As Tim mentioned on FrontBurner, former city council member and longtime champion of the arts and preservation in Dallas, Veletta Lill, announced she will step down as the executive director of the Dallas Arts District, a position she has held since the group’s formation in 2009. In many ways, I have seen Lill over these past years as the district’s saving grace. Sometimes she would joke that her job consisted primarily of negotiating with the city allow food trucks to park on Flora St. during lunch time hours. But her efforts in that regard highlighted Lill’s comprehensive vision for the district and her tireless dedication to stitching together a the loose ends of a complex and ongoing civic project. We can only hope that the district can find someone with as much passion and understanding of what the Arts District really needs to be the cultural heart of Dallas many hope it will become. Here’s the full release:
Veteran Arts Leader Stepping Down
Lill Sees Bright Future for Arts District; New Executive Director Search Underway
DALLAS (September 19, 2012) – The Governance Committee of the Dallas Arts District today announced the resignation of Founding Executive Director Veletta Forsythe Lill effective November 1, 2012. Ms. Lill has headed the nonprofit organization since the group’s formation in 2009 and has been a leading force in the effort to bring vitality to the Downtown Dallas District and coordination among the neighborhood’s organizations.
Dallas Arts District oversees the 68-acre art-centric neighborhood of the same name. Ms. Lill assumed her role as growth of the billion dollar district accelerated and has seen it through the completion of its cultural facilities phase.
Ms. Lill, a former eight-year city council representative and longtime arts and preservation advocate, is leaving to spend more time with her family.
“I have spent 15 years on the frontlines of change,” said Ms. Lill. “With the final opening celebrations this fall and a blueprint for the future of commercial development I believe the time is right to pass the torch to a new generation.”
Downtown’s Dallas Arts District is the largest contiguous arts district in the country drawing more than 1.5 million ticketed visitors a year and creating more than $128 million worth of economic impact. Its distinct cultural facilities have earned Dallas the reputation as one of the most unique arts district models in the world.
With the creation of the Dallas Arts District organization, a partnership with Downtown Dallas, Inc. was established to maximize efficiencies and ensure this critical district of Downtown was integrated into the overall landscape. “The Arts District has been in development for nearly four decades, and the tipping point happened with the completion of the cultural facilities and the creation of the Dallas Arts District organization,” said John Crawford, President and CEO of Downtown Dallas, Inc.
“Because of Veletta’s leadership, the Dallas Arts District has created a brand that is invaluable to our work in stimulating a vibrant and sustainable Downtown environment.”
In the first nearly four years of operation, Ms. Lill spearheaded a program to create vibrant streets and public spaces in the heart of the city, drove public safety and transportation initiatives, and served as an advocate for the districts’ 18 cultural, commercial, religious and educational member organizations.
“Veletta has laid a solid foundation for the structure of the Dallas Arts District as a private citizen and a council member,” said Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings. “From one end to the other, the District is now busy and vibrant, with more people, activity and events every day. It has become the creative and cultural core of our city and the region.”
Among Ms. Lill’s other accomplishments are the legalization of the now prolific food trucks, creation of district-wide festivals and special occasions throughout the year, the launch of traditional and new media platforms to promote art events and dining, and championship of urban growth through beautification projects and easy access initiatives. Furthermore, economic benchmarks have been established for national recognition and measurement.
Graham Greene, a longtime champion of urban vitality and Arts District property owner added, “The future is very bright for the Dallas Arts District with the completion of the cultural facilities, and the beginning of the organic infill of residential, commercial, retail and neighborhood events that will truly create a 24/7 environment. The Dallas Arts District plays a vital role in the connection of these efforts.”
“It has been a privilege to oversee the creation of the Dallas Arts District organization throughout this historic phase of growth from the openings of the AT&T Performing Arts Center in 2009 and City Performance Hall in 2012, to renovation of the St. Paul United Methodist Church in 2010, to the upcoming opening of the Klyde Warren Park this fall, “says Ms. Lill. “I am honored to have had the opportunity to champion the Dallas Arts District for more than 15 years, as a Councilmember, Executive Director and Board Member, as it developed as a cornerstone of civic pride and economic activity for the city of Dallas. The upcoming final phase mixed-used development will provide the additional commercial impact that will be needed to complete the vision of the Dallas Arts District.”
The Dallas Arts District has created a formal search committee which is actively engaged in identifying Ms. Lill’s successor.