Published on July 3, 2012 by Philip Poole  

Samford University's Leslie S. Wright Center has been selected as one of ten presenters to be part of South Arts' Dance Touring Initiative (DTI). The DTI is an ambitious three-year project designed to enhance the presentation of modern dance for presenters and audiences throughout the Southeast. Participants receive intensive professional development, peer mentorship, tour development assistance and touring subsidies. 

Sean Wright, Samford's director of venue management, will work with presenters from Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina and Tennessee to more effectively present dance and create a block booking of major dance companies in the region. The presenters will travel to regional and national arts conferences and dance festivals to meet with dance companies and choreographers. Working together, these groups will create tours and residency activities for the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons. 

"It is a tremendous honor to be a part of the Dance Touring Initiative," said Wright. "This will allow us to expand our dance offerings and further cements the Wright Center's standing as the home for fine arts in Birmingham. It is a natural extension of Samford's partnerships with the Alabama Dance Festival and the Alabama Ballet and guarantees that we will be bringing vital dance offerings to the city for at least the next three years.  We look forward to further integrating dance into our community and developing life-long audiences for dance." 

One of the core aspects of the DTI is that the group of presenters will have the opportunity to not only select the dance companies who will participate, but also to work directly with those companies on creating expansive residency programs like master classes, workshops and community projects. Through these residencies, students of all ages and skill levels will be interacting with touring artists, Wright explained. 

The residencies are very important to Wright. "We are extremely excited to have the opportunity to identify companies who are fully invested in the residency component of the tour.  Part of the Wright Center's mission is to provide a true arts laboratory for our Samford students. Through these residencies the students, as well as other constituencies in Birmingham, will get the opportunity to learn from, talk to and even dance with professional companies." 

South Arts (formerly the Southern Arts Federation) is a nonprofit regional arts organization that has been making a positive difference in the arts throughout the South since 1975. South Arts creates partnerships and collaborations, assists in the professional development of artists, arts organizations and arts professionals, presents, promotes and produces southern arts and cultural programming,  and advocates for the arts and arts education. 

The Dance Touring initiative is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts.

 The ten participants in the Dance Touring Initiative:

Samford University Leslie S. Wright Fine Arts Center, Birmingham, Ala.

The Arts Association of East Alabama, Opelika, Ala.

St. Johns River State College Thrasher-Horne Center for the Arts, Orange Park, Fla. 

City of Tarpon Springs, Tarpon Springs Cultural Treasures, Tarpon Springs, Fla.

Palm Beach Atlantic University Department of Dance, West Palm Beach, Fla.

Manship Theatre, Baton Rouge, La.

Acadiana Center for the Arts, Lafayette, La.

University of Mississippi, The Ford Center, University, Miss.

Appalachian State University Office of Arts and Culture Programs, Boone, N.C.

Town of Huntingdon, The Dixie Carter Performing Arts Center, Huntingdon, Tenn.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.