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A new chapter at TBAAL

Michael McGee | 2/12/2014, 8:06 p.m.
“You know, it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be,” Jiles King remarked as he discussed his return ...
Jiles King Charlse David NYC

Jiles mentioned that he’d also like to attract more theatergoers between the ages of 25 and 40 to come out for the programs offered.

“That’s a market that we have a grip on but I think we can increase and boost that.”

Theater patrons and music lovers above that target demographic have nothing to worry about, Jiles said. Over the years, TBAAL hosted musical programs and other shows featuring the talents of Ossie Davis, Lou Gossett Jr., Cicely Tyson, Esther Rolle and Cab Calloway, as well as numerous other performers. Jiles affirmed that there will always be a place for the “more seasoned” theatergoer; his duty, he said, was to “embellish” the groundwork Curtis has already laid.

“To bring it to that Facebook/Twitter generation …” he affirmed, “… to also not forget that older generation, who’s not on Facebook, and also give them programming that they would enjoy, so it’s kind of a delicate dance, a balancing act …”

Enriching the TBAAL education program is also on the agenda. The academy gets arts and education funding from the Dallas Independent School District every year. As part of a cultural enrichment program through DISD, students can participate with the Summer Youth Institute through TBAAL for free.

“I remember when I was a kid here in Dallas, I was looking for a program like the summer arts program and everything for my family was too expensive for me to take,” Jiles pointed out.

Under the guidance of experienced adults, the youth rehearse, crew and perform a professional-level show in the Naomi Bruton Main Stage Theater within the Dallas County Convention Center. Jiles called the education program “one of our most valuable assets” and wants to step up its profile.

“The number of kids that come through here in just the summer program alone, and what they go on to do past that summer program – some of them come back as interns, others are working in the actual field,” he said.

“I know many are studying theater, dance, music, once they leave our program, so it’s great to come back and listen to those success stories,” Jiles said, calling the program an “incubator” for kids to learn about theater in the real world.

Jiles stated that he had gained new insight for the job as CED since he last worked at TBAAL and called the organization his “home.”

“Honestly, I never left the Black Academy,” he said.

Although specific, solid plans to achieve these goals are still being worked out, Jiles said his knowledge of TBAAL’s inner workings would come in handy in his new position.

He described Curtis as a mentor. “… Which has allowed me to pick his brain and find out the way he thinks and to fully see his vision; having the knowledge as an employee, having the knowledge as a promoter who has rented the venue and produced inside the venue, and having the knowledge of a mentee seeing his vision,” Jiles explained. “Add all three of those together to push a vision of what The Black Academy should be, and take it to the next level, whatever the next level is.”

In the meantime, Jiles said that public should go see for themselves what the academy has to offer.

“People have heard of The Black Academy; [but] they all need to experience [it]. Once they experience the academy, I promise you, they’re hooked.”