Jones, 63, said he wants to spend more time with his family and further pursue his passion for photography.
“I have had a great time here and still love the job immensely,” Jones said. “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.
As president, he oversaw 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.
Jones had only two out of 16 years at Wolf Trap without a balanced budget. “We had reserves and the deficit was erased,” he said.
Going to the Filene Center is a Washington summer tradition and Wolf Trap’s prime moneymaker 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,” Jones said. The weather didn’t help, with six weeks of heat, then a hurricane, then an earthquake. “And then we are in the midst of the construction to Dulles. It didn’t affect people getting here, but some spent 11 / 2 hours getting home. They complained about that.”
After a successful $21 million fundraising campaign, the foundation created the education center in 2003, 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, multimedia artists and choreographers that Wolf Trap has underwritten. In Jones’s 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,” Jones said. Raising money for an endowment is hard, he said, with Wolf Trap building one to $17 million, but an endowment is needed 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.
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 bookstores next March.