Former Dallas City Council Member and Arts District Executive Director Veletta Lill jokes that Dallas likes to open its big, signature civic projects during times of economic turmoil. The Texas Centennial kicked off in a rebuilt Fair Park during the pits of the Great Depression. The Meyerson Symphony Center was completed in the throes of the Savings and Lone Crisis. And ten years ago this month, The AT&T Performing Arts Center opened during the Great Recession.
Although it wasn’t obvious during the jubilant celebration that accompanied the opening of the ATTPAC, the recession would have an impact on the center—and the Arts District—that lingered for nearly a decade. It would take almost 10 years for the ATTPAC to settle its finances, requiring a controversial move by the city to commit millions of public dollars to shore up its debt. During that time, some of the other organizations in the district battled their own financial challenges.
But as we mark the 10th anniversary of the center, the question remains: has Dallas realized its dream of a vibrant Arts District that it began pursuing nearly 40 years ago? In the October issue of D Magazine, I tackle that question and try to understand what the Arts District is and what it can still become now that all the land on Flora Street is spoken for. That article appears on online today. Read it here.