2020 marks the first full year of Terry Loftis’ tenure as the Carlson President and Executive Director of The Arts Community Alliance (TACA). The Oak Cliff native succeeds Wolford McCue, who retires after serving three years as the Dallas arts funding organization’s leader.
McCue has acted as a consultant since TACA named Loftis to the leadership position in October. As he retires, McCue is hopeful about TACA’s future. “The impact of TACA is open-ended,” McCue said.
Developing that impact has been the focus of McCue’s tenure. TACA developed a new strategic plan in 2017, redefining its role in an arts ecology that is changing as fast as the DFW area is growing.
“Part of the solution for us has been to focus on helping arts organizations with capacity-building instead of just grants. That’s been very valuable to help them run more efficiently and help them with audience development,” McCue said.
Under his leadership, TACA began giving grants to visual arts organizations for the first time, developed programs to engage young professionals in the arts and created a toolkit to help arts organizations to understand millennial attitudes about leisure time.
McCue served on the City of Dallas Office of Arts and Culture’s Cultural Plan task force, extending the organization’s influence within the community. “Some of the work we had done and the insights we provided about individual arts organizations had a distinct influence on the Cultural Plan. That was a positive thing,” McCue said.
McCue is confident Loftis can lead TACA forward into its next chapter. “He knows the community well and he has a great vision,” McCue said. “He’s had, both with his work and his volunteering, great opportunities to be a leader and make a difference.”
Loftis is an arts advocate, philanthropist and Tony-nominated Broadway producer who has enjoyed a 25-year career in the advertising and marketing industry. He served most recently as vice president of the Broadway Strategic Return Fund in New York, which co-produced two Tony Award-winning productions, “Once on This Island” and “Hadestown.” He also co-produced “Bandstand” and “The Visit.” He currently serves on the boards of Black Tie Dinner and Resource Center.
A graduate of Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, Loftis now sits on the school’s President’s Council of the Advisory Board and marvels at the Dallas Arts District’s development in the last decade.
“I’m in awe that I get to work in this environment every day and to make TACA the gold standard that it has been for arts funding, but also capacity-building and maintaining that programmatic relevancy. We have to do more,” Loftis said.
As he considered a career transition, leading a nonprofit was not on his radar. His varied experience is a good fit for TACA. “Even in my advertising and marketing career, working with creatives, and my background in the arts, it was this unique skillset to run an organization and understand the demographic within that organization,” Loftis said.
The idea of supporting his hometown’s arts community excited him. “To do that in the arts made me giddy,” Loftis said.
Loftis comes into the leadership role with specific priorities. Fundraising is a necessity. “That’s always our job,” Loftis said. In five years, he would like to double TACA’s funding distribution to arts organizations, and he would like TACA to offer a scholarship for high school students in the arts.
He is focused on enriching TACA’s strategic plan of becoming an educational thought leader in the industry as well as continuing TACA’s initiatives to build stronger arts organizations.
“How are we adding additional value to the grantees and our beneficiaries that receive funding from us?” Loftis said. “Based on their mission statement in the arts, how can TACA enhance what they are doing?”
Loftis wants TACA to be a conduit for donor development. Sitting in the lobby of the Meyerson Symphony Center, he points out the names of major arts supporters chiseled on the walls of the 30-year old arts facility. Several of those donors have passed away. A new generation of supporters is needed.
“Those next givers to that level are out there. How do we engage them now so when we’re both gone, TACA is still relevant and still growing that base of support?” Loftis said. “There’s a lot of opportunity that has been on the radar that we’re going to make a more aggressive approach to bring them in the fold.”
He is looking forward to the challenges of the job. “I’ve come home,” Loftis said. “It will be fun to take the success of the organization and build on it.”
Learn more: https://taca-arts.org/