DSO’s Terry Loftis
DSO’s Terry Loftis works to build bridges between classical music and LGBTQ communities
RICH LOPEZ | Staff writer
The Dallas Morning News once described Terry Loftis as a “rainmaker” for the arts — certainly an apropos description of his time leading The Arts Community Alliance, which doles out grants to area arts organizations which has been helping theaters, dance companies and the like rebuild their foundations post the height of the pandemic.
But today, the out arts advocate, who left TACA late last year, is on the other side of that equation as chief advancement and revenue officer for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, the largest arts organization in the southwest.
“TACA is a grants funder for the cultural arts,” Loftis explained. “Now I’ve moved from an ecosystem where I was making grants to working for a grantee.”
The position of chief advancement and revenue officer was created by DSO President and CEO Kim Noltemy, and Loftis assumed those duties in December.
In a statement last December announcing his new position, Loftis said he was “delighted” to join the Dallas Symphony executive team in what he expects to be an important role.
“I’ve been privileged to collaborate with Kim Noltemy for several years, admiring her leadership skills up close,” Loftis said at the time of the announcement. “She has set the DSO on a path towards unprecedented growth and innovation, and I look forward to helping fulfill her vision to take the DSO to even greater heights.”
A former Broadway producer and a performing musician and singer, Loftis is no stranger to the arts. For his job at DSO, he fuses his knowledge of the industry both from the perspective of an artist and from the perspective of the administrative side. With the DSO, he oversees marketing, media relations, fundraising, corporate support and guest services teams.
Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s 2023/24 season
The DSO has a hefty schedule of performances set for its next season.
These select performances noted here are high on our radar.
All performances will be at the Morton H. Meyerson unless otherwise noted. To see the full calendar that includes DSO’s Texas Instruments Classical Series, the Pops Series by Capital One and holiday offerings, visit DallasSymphony.org.
• Sept. 1-3: Dallas Symphony Presents: Amadeus Live in Concert
• Sept. 8-10: Pops Series: Prohibition: Music of Moulin Rouge, Boardwalk Empire and More
• Sept. 19: Dallas Symphony Presents: Turtle Creek Chorale: Sing for Our Lives
• Oct. 12-15: Classical Series: Snapshots
• Oct. 27-29: Pops Series: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban in Concert
• Oct. 31: Dia de Los Muertos celebration with conductor Maurice Cohn
• Nov. 6: Classical Series: The world premiere of DSO commission Concert for Cello and Orchestra
• Dec. 1-10: Pops Series: Christmas Pops
• Dec. 31: New Year’s Eve Celebration with conductor Maurice Cohn
• Jan. 26-28: Pops Series: Rajaton Sings Queen
• Feb. 16-18: Pops Series: Uptown Nights: It Don’t Mean a Thing if It Ain’t Got That Swing
• Feb. 22-25: Classical Series: The world premiere of DSO commission Year 2020: Concerto for Trumpet, Violin and Orchestra.
• March 21: Dallas Symphony Presents: Ludmilla by Erich Ziegler and Willy Losen
• April 19: Pops Series: Troupe Vertigo
• May 1-5: Classical Series: Wagner’s Ring Cycle: Das Rheingold and Die Walküre, separate performances
• May 10-12: Pops Series: Country Hits: Songs from Nashville
• May 23:-26: Classical Series: The world premiere of DSO commission of a new work by Andrea Basevi
Putting it in simpler terms, he said, “I’m responsible for all of the development.”
There is a bigger picture here. Loftis shares Noltemy’s vision, and the two are working together to move the DSO into a new space of relevance for Dallas and North Texas.
“All the performing arts were facing challenges for audience engagement and re-engagement from the pandemic,” Loftis said in an interview with Dallas Voice earlier this year. “So we are taking into account our core audience and asking ‘What is our impact in the community?’
“We are 122 years old,” he added, “but we still will maintain and grow our promise to produce great music and programming. We also want to immerse diverse communities into what we do.”
Those diverse communities Loftis hopes to help immerse in the work of the DSO include, of course, the LGBTQ population throughout Dallas and North Texas. Toward that end, last spring the DSO hosted pre-concert Pride Night events. The organization also introduced its Friday Nights OUT series of concerts that have extra appeal to queer music lovers.
That focus on drawing in diverse communities continues as DSO moves into its 2023/24 season, with a series package that includes three concerts for $99 including the Sept. 1, Jan. 26 and April 19 performances (see sidebar).
These are new outreach initiatives launched by the DSO soon after Loftis joined the team. However, he acknowledged with a laugh, “I wish I could take full credit for that!
“One criticism we had received was that this part of the community [the LGBTQ community] that loves the arts wasn’t being marketed to directly. Kim’s vision is to be the DSO for all of Dallas, including LGBTQ communities.”
The organization hired its first vice president of equity, diversity, inclusion and social impact last year in October in order to build bridges to not only the Dallas queer community, but to persons of color, women and disabled populations. And Loftis takes all of these initiatives seriously.
“These are not optics,” he declared. “We definitely want all these people in the building.” he said.
The DSO earlier this year hosted its Young Professionals Gala that featured “The Music of Tchaikovsky X Drake” concert benefiting its Young Musicians Program. This new kind of programming is significant to the direction and appeal in which Loftis wants to lead — even if he admits he had a bit of anxiety about it.
“Drake set to classical music — I was nervous,” he said. “But we sold out, with 75 percent of our audience under 45. So a major part of what we’re doing is to bring these other demographics into what we’re doing.”
Loftis is leading his team to change the narrative and perspective of classical music for Dallas. From there, the organization’s reputation grows as do, potentially, its supporters.
But if he and the DSO are putting Drake in the classical mix for younger audiences, how about some Drag and Dvorak or a Rainbow Ravel?
“We’d be thrilled!” he declared with a laugh. “I want this organization to look like the community we engage with and do business with and educate as well as the staff and the members on stage,” he said. “To do my job in this fashion is a great opportunity to grow and nurture our next generation of supporters.”