A woman plays an instrument in a library surrounded by children

Texas Touring Roster artist Kim Lehman performs for children in Lamesa in 2019. Photo courtesy Kim Lehman.

Throughout July and August, the Texas Commission on the Arts is funding a completely unprecedented number of writers, musicians, storytellers, dancers, and other artists who will be offering nearly 200 free performances in rural and underserved areas. These events will be held in schools, public libraries, universities, community centers, and in conjunction with nonprofit organizations. All of the artists are established artists listed on TCA’s Texas Touring Roster.

TCA executive director Gary Gibbs says the funding will serve “counties that are defined as rural, which means the county populated is under 50,000 [and] Texas House districts that were not served by TCA in our last completed fiscal year. We are using these tours to close gaps in our service and to forge new, ongoing relationship in those areas.”

After nine albums and 20 years of performing, Stephanie Urbina Jones and the Honky Tonk Mariachi returned to the El Paso area in June as part of the TCA events. I asked Jones how she felt about performing in front of live audiences again post-pandemic, “Having been raised in honky-tonks I know that dancing and music are great healers of hard times. Never have I been more excited to share the intoxicating toe tappin’ joy with Texans of all ages and walks of life.”

An interactive storyteller, author, and drummer, Oba William King will perform in Arlington in July and August, starting with a performance at the Arlington Public Library on July 29. King. defines himself as a “small town storyteller sharing the art form as though it were a sacred gift” and says he is inspired by the “oral tradition: bringing words to life and speaking for the voiceless.”

Since 1991, the Storybook Theatre of Texas has provided family-friendly entertainment. Lynn Draper, SBT’s owner, is excited to perform for children again. “We primarily work with children, encouraging them to read and become successful in life with the choices they make every day,” Draper says.

In 2017, I was granted a Laredo area rural tour and visited community colleges, high schools, and public libraries in Carrizo Springs, Uvalde, Leakey, and Crystal City. It was a beautiful and transformative experience to reach out to readers and students that I might not otherwise ever meet. This August, I’m looking forward to sharing my work with people from my hometown area.

“We’re excited to help Texas communities safely reopen further with high-quality in-person performances by Texas artists,” Gibbs says.

Upcoming TCA events

July 20, 2 p.m.—Bernadette Nason, Alexander Memorial Library, 201 S. Center St., Cotulla.

July 22, 2:30 p.m.—“Two Pigs and T.H.E Wolf” by Storybook Theatre of Texas. American Legion Post 539, 14290 FM 1346 St., Saint Hedwig.

July 24—Virtual performance by Mrs. Dipsworth here.

July 26, 1 p.m.—Master Workshop on Latin Percussion by Henry Brun & The Latin Playerz Quartet, Valley View High School Auditorium, 600 Jackson Road, Hidalgo.

July 26, 1 p.m.—“Two Pigs and T.H.E. Wolf” by Storybook Theatre of Texas. JBSA Randolph AFB (Parr Club), 5th St., Randolph, AFB.

July 26, 5 p.m.—Concert by Henry Brun & The Latin Playerz Quartet, Valley View High School Auditorium, 600 Jackson Rd, Hidalgo.

July 27, 9 a.m. and 11 a.m.—Concert by Henry Brun & The Latin Playerz Quartet, Speer Memorial Library, 801 E 12th St., Mission.

July 27, 1:30 p.m.—Concert by Henry Brun & The Latin Playerz Quartet, 118 Mile E. Wood Ave., Donna.

July 29, 7 p.m.—Oba William King, Arlington Public Library‑Southeast Branch, 900 SE Green Oaks Blvd., Arlington.

July 31—Virtual performance by Mrs. Dipsworth here.

July 31, 10 a.m.—Toni Simmons, George Memorial Library, 1001 Golfview Drive, Richmond.

July 31, 6 p.m.—Paradox Traveling Art, Rio Vista Community Center, 901 N Rio Vista Road, Socorro.

Aug. 1, 6 p.m.—Paradox Traveling Art, Rio Vista Community Center, 901 N Rio Vista Road, Socorro.

Aug. 3, 6 p.m.—Paradox Traveling Art, Rio Vista Community Center, 901 N Rio Vista Road, Socorro.

Aug. 3-5—David M. Parsons, Irving Schwartz Library, 1865 Dean Martin, El Paso.

Aug. 3-5—Donna Ingham will be holding story times for children, writing workshops for adults and teens, and public performances. Joe A. Guerra Laredo Public Library, 1120 Calton Road, Laredo.

Aug. 5, 2:30 p.m.—“Doing What’s Right Can Never Be Wrong” by Storybook Theatre of Texas. American Legion Post 539, 14290 FM 1346, Saint Hedwig.

Aug. 6, 8:30 a.m.—Paradox Traveling Art, Fabens Middle School, 800 Walker St., Fabens.

Aug. 6—David M. Parsons, Ft. Bliss MWR Resiliency Art Program, 820 Marshal Road, Ft. Bliss, El Paso.

Aug. 7—Virtual performance by Mrs. Dipsworth here.

Aug. 10, 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.—J Muzacz hosts mosaic workshops for up to 20 people each. Tomball Renewal Center-Re:Bar Café, 416 W Main St., Tomball.

Aug. 11, 6:30 p.m.—J Muzacz hosts mosaic workshops for up to 20 people. Tomball Renewal Center-Re:Bar Café, 416 W Main St., Tomball.

Aug. 12, 10 a.m.—J Muzacz hosts mosaic workshops for up to 20 people. Tomball Community Library, 30555 Tomball Parkway, Tomball.

Aug. 12—David M. Parsons, St. Theresa Nursing Home, 10305 Montana Ave., El Paso.

Aug. 13—David M. Parsons, Barbed Wire Open Reading Series, 11394 James Watt Suite 306, El Paso.

Aug. 14—Virtual performance by Mrs. Dipsworth here.

Aug. 14—David M. Parsons, Tumble Word Writing Workshops, 6611 Boeing Drive, El Paso.

Aug. 18, noon—Chris Barton, Historic Upshur Museum, 119 Simpson St., Gilmer.

Aug. 19, 10 a.m.—Chris Barton, Sulphur Springs Public Library, 611 N Davis St., Sulphur Springs.

Aug. 26, 7 p.m.—Reading with Rodney Gomez, Celina A Gomez, Edward Vidaurre, Julieta Corpus, and ire’ne lara silva, Edinburg Public Library, 1906 S. Closner, Edinburg.

Aug. 28, 9 a.m.—Paradox Traveling Art, El Paso Community College-Mission del Paso Campus, 10700 Gateway Blvd. E, El Paso.

Aug. 28, 10 a.m.—“Two Pigs and T.H.E. Wolf” by Storybook Theatre of Texas. Universal City Library, 100 Northview Drive, Universal City.

Aug. 30, 10 a.m.-noon—”Dismantling Doubt Workshop” led by ire’ne lara silva. Open to writers of all genres and levels. Elsa Public Library, 711 N. Hidalgo St., Elsa.

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