September 21st is a special day!

KERA’s Thought Provoking Piece on the City of Dallas Bond Allocations Issue

The amazing buildings that support hundreds of Dallas art groups and many hundreds of artists are falling apart. City investment is needed to keep them from deteriorating to critical condition. It has been seventeen years since there has been any significant investment in the repairs and maintenance of these important and iconic facilities. The longer this situation continues, the more it will cost to correct the damage from deferred maintenance. The bond program being proposed does not increase the tax rate on Dallas homeowners but is part of the normal process for the City to maintain its infrastructure. We can’t let Dallas fall behind other Texas cities and see our beloved arts facilities become shabby or even unusable.

Check out this important article that KERA released last week on the City of Dallas bond allocation issue happening now.


How We Became the Sammons Center for the Arts

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4th of July Recipes from the Sammons Center Staff

As this is a long holiday weekend for the Sammons Center’s staff, we wanted to share a few 4th of July recipes that recipes we’ll be making this year. From salads and soups to BBQ and even dessert, we hope you are able to concoct one of these yummy recipes and have a fun, cool, and creative holiday!

Watermelon Blueberry & Feta Salad

From Running in a Skirt by Julie Wunder, shared by Hannah Garcia | Director of Development


  • ½ seedless watermeloncubed (about 8-10 cups)
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • ¼ cup crumbled feta
  • 2 tablespoons mint leaveschopped (If you love mint, use more)
  • For the dressing: 2 limesjuiced


  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt


  1. Combine the fruit, mint, and cheese in a bowl.
  2. Toss in the lime juice or use the optional dressing.
  3. Serve immediately.

White Gazpacho Soup (Cold)

An original recipe shared by Joanna St. Angelo | Executive Director


  • 3 slices soft sandwich bread, crusts removed and torn in small pieces
  • 1 Leek, washed thoroughly and sliced thin
  • 1 – 2 medium cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 lg. shallot diced
  • 1/4 cup sliced or slivered almonds plus more sliced almonds for garnish
  • 1 English cucumber peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery leaves or inner stalks chopped
  • 2 Tbspn Cream (or Sour Cream or Greek Yogurt)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 Tbspn Sherry Vinegar
  • 1 – 2 cups plain unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 cup water (may not need all of this)
  • Salt to taste


  1. Saute leeks, shallots and garlic until softened but not browned.  Put in refrigerator to cool
  2. Soak torn bread in water for a few minutes
  3. Squeeze excess water from bread and put in blender
  4. Add almonds, vinegar, and cream to blender and process until smooth
  5. Add cooled leek mixture and process until smooth (process after each addition to ensure smooth texture)
  6. Add cucumber and a small amount of almond milk and process until smooth
  7. Add celery and more almond milk and process until smooth
  8. Add the rest of the almond milk and some water if needed for desired consistency
  9. Add salt to taste
  10. Process some more if texture is not as smooth as desired.  Can be strained through a sieve or chinois but not necessary
  11. Chill completely
  12. To serve portion in bowls and sprinkle drops of green oil on top.  Garnish with sliced almonds.
  13. For special presentation also add one or more edible flowers as garnish along with almonds and green oil.


Process 1 Tbspn chopped chives or other herb with ½ cup olive oil and let sit for an hour.  Strain through a sieve and add a few drops to each bowl of soup before serving.  Oil will keep in the refrigerator for about a week.


Saute ¼ cup sliced almonds in oil.  Remove from oil and toss with mixture of 1 Tbspn salt and pinch of ground lavender.

Pork BBQ Skewers

Family recipe shared by Marica Cruz | Assistant Office Coordinator


  • 4 lbs. pork shoulder sliced into thin pieces

Marinade Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup calamansi or lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 cups Sprite or 7Up
  • 3/4 cup banana ketchup
  • 4 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons salt


  1. In a large bowl or storage container, arrange the pork pieces.
  2. Add all the marinade ingredients. Mix well. Cover and marinate for at least 3 hours or overnight for best results.
  3. Pierce about 4 to 5 pieces of pork onto a bamboo or wooden skewer.
  4. Once the grill is ready start cooking the skewers for 3 to 5 minutes per side until the meat is thoroughly cooked flipping occasionally. Make sure to always add glaze to the BBQ when flipping. The glaze sauce ingredients are the same as the marinade ingredients minus the Sprite.
  5. Good eaten with rice or by itself and served with spicy vinegar.

American Flag Strawberry Poke Cake

From Ali | Jam Hands shared by Hannah Garcia | Director of Development



  • 15 oz boxed white cake mix
  • 1 cup water boiling
  • 3 oz box strawberry flavored Jell-o
  • 1/2 cup cold water


  • 8 oz tub Cool-Whip non-dairy whipped topping
  • 8 oz package cream cheese softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


  • 1 pound strawberries sliced thin
  • 1 to 2 cups blueberries amount varies by size of the berries


  1. Make cake as directed on the back of the box for a 9×13″ pan.
  2. Let the cake cool for 20 minutes and “poke” the cake with a large fork all over.
  3. Mix together the boiling water and Jell-o until the Jell-o is completely dissolved. Pour in the cold water and mix well then pour evenly over the cake.
  4. Cover the cake with plastic wrap and refrigerate for three hours.
  5. Combine the Cool-Whip, cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla and beat until smooth with a hand mixer. Spread on top of cake. (Note- If you have any clumps of cream cheese in the frosting, it means your cream cheese was not softened enough. Try heating the prepared frosting in the microwave for 20 seconds and stir well to get the frosting nice and smooth.)
  6. Top with strawberry slices and blueberries to match the flag pattern. Keep in the fridge until ready to serve.

Comment down below one of your favorite 4th of July recipes and if you tried one of ours!

Meet Harry

Meet Harry. Harry is 15 years old and is practicing in Kurth Hall for his piano recital at the Sammons Center later this summer. Harry is a member of the Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra, which offices at the Center and practices here every Sunday. GDYO is one of the first tenants to have a home here, coming on board 35 years ago when we opened our doors in March of 1988. Harry is a great example of what a regular day looks like in our building and who we serve.
While we do accommodate the concerts, galas, and dances, you may be surprised to know that our community more frequently has needs for the rehearsals, meetings, and recitals that come beforehand. Not all art lives in museums and fancy theatres, and artists like Harry need spaces for their art too. They need spaces where their art can be created, developed, and enjoyed. We wouldn’t be surprised if Harry did find himself sitting at a Steinway at Carnegie Hall later down the road, but until then, Harry, we are here to help you get there by giving your art a home where it can grow.

Meet Cynthia and Blake!


These faces may be familiar to you if you have ever attended a Sammons Jazz concert! Cynthia has been the Sammons Jazz MC for many years, and more recently, Blake has joined her as a special guest MC!

Cynthia Dorn Navarrete might be familiar for more reasons than one. She and her larger-than-life personality may have graced your TV screens as she’s an actress with a long television and film career appearing in motion pictures such as The Rookie and Miss Congeniality. Her energetic spirit has led her life in many directions as she has worked in local productions, as a drama teacher for DISD high schools, and as a member of the African American Spiritual Ensemble, which also happens to be a tenant organization of the Sammons Center, New Arts Six. Friend of the Center for decades and enthusiastic jazz supporter, we couldn’t help but shine a spotlight on her and invite her to host our Sammons Jazz evenings as her bright personality fills any room she’s in any way!

When we met Blake Lindsay, all he had to say was “hello” before realizing we needed to put a mic in front of his “voice from God.” You know what we’re talking about if you have heard him at Sammons Jazz or any of his other professional voice-over work! We met Blake after hosting a special jazz concert for the inspiring José André, a blind child prodigy jazz pianist. We became acquainted with the organization Envision Dallas and their Director of Communication and Outreach (Blake) and hoped they might enjoy a few comp tickets to this special event. Envision Dallas is a wonderful organization dedicated to enriching the lives of those who are blind or visually impaired. After learning about Blake’s career and incredible gift for public speaking, we asked him to MC, and the rest is history. Blake is also a motivational speaker and author who recently wrote a book about his life, “Overcoming Obstacles & Getting Extraordinary Results.”

Be sure to say hi the next time you see them!

Photo Credit: Bart Marantz

Celebrating 10 Years of Dallas Jazz Appreciation Month

Presented by a local volunteer collection of jazz presenters, educators, and supporters including the Sammons Center, Dallas Jazz Appreciation Month (D’JAM) is a month-long celebration of jazz venues, artists, legends, and rising stars who call North Texas home. Since 2013, D’JAM has been held each April as part of the Smithsonian’s initiative, Jazz Appreciation Month (JAM), and presents various events celebrating jazz in the North Texas area. This year, D’JAM celebrated its 10-year anniversary with two special events uplifting jazz in North Texas including jazz film screenings in partnership with the USA Film Festival and the first-ever Jazz Stroll in the Dallas Arts District.


For the last several years, D’JAM and the USA Film Festival have partnered together to showcase free screenings of jazz-related films, offering a unique opportunity to learn about the history of the art form through cinematic storytelling. Presented this year were ELLIS, a documentary about the late NOLA jazz pianist, educator, and patriarch of the Marsalis family, Ellis Marsalis, and Bonnie Blue, a documentary about the struggles and impact of the legendary blues musician James Cotton. In attendance for ELLIS was filmmaker Sascha Just and jazz trombonist/son of Ellis Marsalis, Delfaeyo Marsalis. Sammons Jazz Artistic Director Arlington Jones led a post-screening Q&A discussion, opening the floor to learn first-hand about the life and legacy of Ellis Marsalis who passed away in 2020.






This year we also held our first-ever D’JAM Jazz Stroll in the Dallas Arts District. Through partnering with the Dallas Arts District Foundation, we were able to host 9 different ensembles at 8 different locations along Flora St, the main street in the Dallas Arts District, and in doing so, offered the opportunity to celebrate and sample the jazz of Dallas for FREE to hundreds of people. What better way to spend a sunny Saturday in April than listening to the soundtrack of the Dallas jazz scene set against the backdrop of the downtown skyline?



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During this day of jazz, we also hosted our annual Jazz Legends Awards Ceremony at St. Paul UMC to honor 4 different individuals in 4 distinct categories for their incredible contributions to the landscape of jazz in North Texas. This year we honored Mario Cruz – Jazz Artist, Judy Watson – Jazz Benefactor, Paris Rutherford – Jazz Educator (Posthumous), and Daniel Jones – Jazz Innovator. Lynne Rutherford, wife of the late Paris Rutherford, was in attendance to accept his award.



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All in all, the music, weather, and company made for a fine day in the Dallas Arts District and we were delighted to spend the month of April celebrating jazz in our city. Thank you to everyone who was able to come out and celebrate with us! Until next year!



“Creative, Beautiful, Soulful, and Real”

One of the things that we rent space for at the Sammons Center is recitals. We have special rates for them, to allow even very small studios to give their students opportunities to perform on professional instruments in beautiful rooms. These educational performances often showcase the work of students, and they’re typically attended by friends and family. We rent to families and to music teachers; sometimes it will be dozens of kids, sometimes it’s a solo event or even a recording of a piece to send away with a scholarship application. The only rule is that it has to be all about the art; it can’t be a birthday party or a corporate event. This will be a particularly special evening — it’s a senior recital for a music student, hosted by his parents. It’s by invitation only, so you can’t buy a ticket, but I want to share the story with you, and a taste of the music, because they’re both beautiful.


Shreyan Daulat is playing piano. Aadi Khasgiwali is playing cello. Shreyan’s music teacher Jenni VerHagen is taking them through the pieces they’ll play at the recital on Sunday, making minor last-minute adjustments and notes. These young men have been best friends since kindergarten, and the only senior graduation party that Shreyan wanted was a recital where he could play music with his friend and share it with his family. The resonant acoustic of Kurth Hall embraces the sound of the duets, adding just enough reverb to make it sound like sacred music being played in a chapel.


I’ve been working with Shreyan’s mom, Malisha, on getting all the arrangements perfect; working out where to put the tables, how to arrange the food and drinks. They’re doing a mix of charcuterie and traditional Indian sweets and pastries, and they’ll have the recital in Kurth Hall and then reception in the Cree Mezzanine. I’ve enjoyed getting to know Malisha; she and her husband are very keen on music, theater, and the arts, and she is passionate about making sure her children are educated in creative pursuits as well as their other studies. They have taken their kids to performances since they were little. She and I have had a lively discussion about music and theater and the arts and how important they are to quality of life.


Watching the two students play together, I was really touched by how much this is at the core of what we do at Sammons – it’s creative, beautiful, soulful, and real. There is nothing like live music. When I asked permission for our social media guru Marica to take video, Aadi apologized for his casual clothes and told me he wished they were dressed up; I explained that so much of the activity here at Sammons is rehearsals, workshops, classes – getting ready for big stage performances at the Moody, the Meyerson, the Eiseman. T-shirts and shorts are perfect. Aadi knows Kurth Hall from his rehearsals with Texas Cellos, Joseph Kuiper’s all-cello musical performance group; they’re one of the groups in our DARS program, which provides mail services and discounted room rates. I wish Shreyan and Aadi both the best, and good luck on their journey to the next big stage performance.


Michael Cook

Assistant Director, Sammons Center for the Arts

September 2022 Newsletter

September 2022 Newsletter