Katherine Wagner at the Nasher Sculpture Center. photography by Joshua Martin

You Need to Know: Katherine Wagner

The CEO of the Business Council for the Arts is merging art and economic development.

Title: CEO of the Business Council for the Arts, a nonprofit arts advocacy organization

Why you need to know her: Because Wagner and her team at the Business Council for the Arts are using culture to reel in Dallas commerce.

The council has dedicated itself to merging two things Dallasites love: art and economic development. “All of our members … subscribe to the idea that you need a strong arts and culture center to create a strong economy,” says Wagner, noting that the arts employ people, boost tourism, and keep dollars in North Texas.

With about 100 members and an annual budget nearing $400,000, the council busies itself organizing research and awareness projects like an economic impact study, Public ArtWalk Dallas, and the Leadership Arts Institute. Membership fees range from $800 to $3,000 and are assessed on a sliding scale, depending on a company’s annual revenue.

Wagner, who headed the Dallas Visual Arts Center for a decade, grabbed the council reins from longtime CEO Pat Porter last year. Now she’s focused on creating new programs and expanding existing ones to further mesh the business community with arts organizations.

Dallas has entered what Wagner calls a modern-day renaissance. She says, “We really need to grab ahold of it, maximize it, optimize it, and enjoy it.”

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