Jones, 63, said he is feeling the pull to spend more time with his family and further pursue his photography passion.
“I have had a great time here and still love the job immensely,” said Jones. “It’s the point at which you come to--I am still active and healthy and want to spend more time with my family.” Jones and his wife, Polly Nell Jones, have two daughters and two grandchildren.
His portfolio included the performances at the Filene Center, the Barns at Wolf Trap, the Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods, the Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts and the Wolf Trap Opera Company.
Despite the recession, Wolf Trap only had 2 years in Jones’ 16 years without a balanced budget. “We had reserves and the deficit was erased,” said Jones.
Going to the Filene Center is a Washington summer tradition and Wolf Trap’s prime money-maker for its other programs.
The 2011 season was a challenge. “We didn’t meet our sales goals but there was not an overall loss. Our donations were up, particularly corporate donations. We balanced that out,” said Jones. Mother Nature didn’t help, with six weeks of hot weather, then a hurricane, then an earthquake. “And then we are in the midst of the construction to Dulles. It didn’t effect people getting here but some spent 1 1/2 hours getting home. They complained about that.”
After a successful $21 million fund-raising campaign, the foundation created the education center, focusing on early childhood programs but creating arts learning for all ages. Jones has also taken a national role in getting arts organizations to establish good environmental practices.
Most visible has been the commissions to composers, multi-media artists and choreographers that Wolf Trap has underwritten. In Jones’ tenure, 71 new works have been created, including ones by Don Byron, Max Roach, Philip Glass, Robert Wilson, Ann Reinking, Doug Varone and Donald Byrd. It also commissioned a full-length opera, “Volpone” by John Musto and Mark Campbell, which was nominated for a Grammy Award.
“Helping artists create new work is so vital. It is hard for arts institutions to raise that money. But it is something I believe in very strongly,” said Jones. Raising money for an endowment is hard, he said, with Wolf Trap building its to $17 million but needing one in the $30-$35 million range.
Next season, the schedule will include the premiere of a David Parsons dance in the National Parks of South Florida in the “Face of America” series. [Above is a video of Trey McIntyre’s commission in Glacier National Park].
Even before his official retirement, Jones will establish himself as a published photographer. His “Roadtrip: A Photographer’s Journey to America’s National Parks,” based on his visits to 88 national parks, is expected in book stores next March.