Turtle Creek Chorale, gay alliance don’t make the list; Women’s Chorus returns
Black Tie Dinner, Inc. announced the names this week of 18 organizations chosen as local beneficiaries for the 2006 Dallas-Fort Worth Black Tie Dinner. The event will mark its 25th anniversary on Nov. 11 with a dinner at the Adam’s Mark Hotel.
Deiadra Burns, Black Tie co-chair, said the committee is already planning a “wonderful, over-the-top event” to mark Black Tie’s 25th year. “We have been working on it since last November, as soon as last year’s dinner was done,” she said.
Beneficiaries are selected each spring by Black Tie’s board of directors, who choose from among local organizations who have submitted applications, Burns said.
“Selecting beneficiaries is one of the board’s most important tasks each year. The strength of our community depends on the support that is given to these organizations from attendees, sponsors and donors,” Burns said.
She said the board, which has 21 members this year, can include up to 25 people, according to the organization’s bylaws, which allow up to 20 local beneficiaries. Half the proceeds from the dinner each year are divided among the local beneficiaries. The other half goes to the Human Rights Campaign.
Local organizations that want to be beneficiaries are required to fill out detailed applications and then send representatives to a pre-application orientation session. During that meeting, board members go through the applications with representatives, clarifying the requirements and answering any questions, Burns said.
Once the applications have been submitted, each one is reviewed by every board member, she continued.
“Every one of us reads each application in its entirety, and we make our selections based on purely on the information in the applications,” Burns said. “It is a simple process, but it is also a very detailed and time-consuming process.”
The 2006 beneficiaries are AIDS Arms, Inc.; AIDS Interfaith Network in Dallas; the AIDS Outreach Center; AIDS Resources of Rural Texas; AIDS Services of Dallas; AIDS Services of North Texas; Congregation Beth El Binah; Dallas Legal Hospice; Equality Texas; the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund; Legacy Counseling Center; Northaven United Methodist Church; PFLAG/Dallas; the Resource Center of Dallas; White Rock Friends; the Women’s Chorus of Dallas; the Women’s Communities Association and Youth First Texas.
Two organizations who have been perennial beneficiaries the Turtle Creek Chorale and Leadership Lambda, a program of the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance’s Don Baker Education Fund did not make the cut this year. Representatives for both organizations said they were surprised to have been omitted from the list.
“I know that we were not chosen this year, but I don’t know why. They don’t share that,” Erin Moore, alliance president, said after the 2006 beneficiaries were announced. “We are doing more than ever before this year with Leadership Lambda. I guess their [the Black Tie board's] criteria changed, and we didn’t meet it this time.”
Moore said not receiving funds from Black Tie this year will have “a huge impact on funding some of the programs we wanted to get started. We will have to pare down our big ticket programs, tighten the belt and find other funding sources. Hopefully they will reconsider next year.”
Moore said the alliance’s education fund had been a Black Tie beneficiary for “at least the last five years.” She and her partner, Patti Fink, publicly criticized organizers of last year’s Black Tie Dinner for not devoting enough speaking time to efforts against an anti-gay-marriage constitutional amendment on the ballot last November. They also criticized Joe Solmonese, executive director of the Human Rights Campaign, for not addressing the amendment during his speech at the event.
Tim Seelig, artistic director for the chorale, said his organization had been a Black Tie beneficiary for about 20 years. He said chorale representatives were given no reason why the organization was omitted this year.
“When Tom Phipps [Black Tie co-chair] called Eve Campbell [interim managing director of the chorale] to tell her, he just said some people get funded and some people don’t. That’s the way it goes,” Seelig said.
Seelig said he had discussed the matter with chorale members at a rehearsal this week.
“The very first thing in the discussion was how grateful we are for the 20-some years of support we have gotten from Black Tie,” he said. “That has been a very significant part of our funding through the years, and it has been, I feel, a very natural and wonderful partnership between the Chorale and Black Tie, considering the role that John Thomas played in starting both organizations.”
Seelig said the chorale’s next fiscal year begins on Aug. 1, and any funds the chorale received from the 2006 Black Tie Dinner would have been included in that year’s budget.
Not receiving funds this year “will have an impact, but we’re certainly going to be okay. It’s less a financial blow to us than a disappointment at not being named as a beneficiary,” Seelig said. “We will apply again next year.”
Ken Morris, a Black Tie committee member, was one of three Turtle Creek Chorale board members who resigned last fall after conflict with Seelig.
Previous board chair Randy Ray, another Black Tie committee member, resigned as a trustee of the chorale’s endowment fund in support of Morris and the other two resigning board members.
Rick Aishmann, Tom Phipp’s partner, also resigned from the chorale board last year because, Seelig said at the time, he had problems with the way the system was working at the time.
Seelig said this week he would assume that deliberations over choosing Black Tie beneficiaries had nothing to do previous conflicts between him and Morris and Ray. And Burns said such personal issues played no part in selecting beneficiaries.
“There are 21 members on the board of directors, and they all play a part in who is chosen” Burns said. “There are no “‘right’ beneficiaries or “‘wrong’ beneficiaries. We had 26 applicants this year, and the process was based entirely on the applications that were submitted. We wish every applicant could be a beneficiary.”
Burns also said that being chosen as a beneficiary one year is no guarantee that an organization will be selected again the next year.
“That has happened in the past,” she said. “The Women’s Chorus was not a beneficiary last year, but they are this year, and we are happy to have them back. They will be a great partner.”
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, March 31, 2006.