ARTS WARS

The city’s about to carve the financial pie for the arts, and none of them seems ready to diet.

It began in September, 1976 with a meeting at the Mayor’s office in City Hall. The topic wasn’t Renner or the sports arena but, of all things, the arts. It was time, the Mayor indicated, for the city to take a close look at its arts facilities, with an eye to developing some type of master plan for the future. Any organization willing to share in the cost of the study would be included.

It began in September, 1976 with a meeting at the Mayor’s office in City Hall. The topic wasn’t Renner or the sports arena but, of all things, the arts. It was time, the Mayor indicated, for the city to take a close look at its arts facilities, with an eye to developing some type of master plan for the future. Any organization willing to share in the cost of the study would be included.

Heads turned, eyebrows lifted. Was this Mayor Folsom’ talking? No one in the room could recall the arts being men-: tioned in the campaign. Nevertheless, nine organizations finally agreed to pitch in. A committee made up of Parks Board President Sid Stahl, Museum of Fine Arts director Harry Parker, and Lloyd Haldeman, General Manager of the Symphony, was appointed to interview consultants. In April, 1977, Carr-Lynch Associates of Boston was hired. Kevin Lynch had previously been a consultant on the Dallas sign ordinance. Fortunately, he had other credentials, including the University Circle Complex in Cleveland and a number of important projects in Boston and Washington. He had a national reputation as an architect and total environment planner. Those who were holding out for a local firm were told that the situation demanded someone with a proven track record who was also in a position to assess the city’s Heads turned, eyebrows lifted. Was this Mayor Folsom’ talking? No one in the room could recall the arts being men-: tioned in the campaign. Nevertheless, nine organizations finally agreed to pitch in. A committee made up of Parks Board President Sid Stahl, Museum of Fine Arts director Harry Parker, and Lloyd Haldeman, General Manager of the Symphony, was appointed to interview consultants. In April, 1977, Carr-Lynch Associates of Boston was hired. Kevin Lynch had previously been a consultant on the Dallas sign ordinance. Fortunately, he had other credentials, including the University Circle Complex in Cleveland and a number of important projects in Boston and Washington. He had a national reputation as an architect and total environment planner. Those who were holding out for a local firm were told that the situation demanded someone with a proven track record who was also in a position to assess the city’s needs objectively.

The hiring of Carr-Lynch put the arts community on notice that the Mayor was serious. To Harry Parker, it also signalled the start of a horse race. “We were delighted that the city was taking a collective approach, but we also figured that we’d better get our troops in line and start moving.” Parker talks about the Museum in a relaxed, almost self-effacing manner that says he knows that he’s out front and going full-speed in the right direction. He’s known that for several years, in fact, ever since a meeting of the Museum’s Acquisitions Committee at the home of Mrs. Eugene McDermott. After routine business had been disposed of and the small talk had begun, Mrs. McDermott let it be known that she thought it would be a nice idea for the city to have a new museum. The present one was a bit crowded, and nobody liked having all those treasures needs objectively.

The hiring of Carr-Lynch put the arts community on notice that the Mayor was serious. To Harry Parker, it also signalled the start of a horse race. “We were delighted that the city was taking a collective approach, but we also figured that we’d better get our troops in line and start moving.” Parker talks about the Museum in a relaxed, almost self-effacing manner that says he knows that he’s out front and going full-speed in the right direction. He’s known that for several years, in fact, ever since a meeting of the Museum’s Acquisitions Committee at the home of Mrs. Eugene McDermott. After routine business had been disposed of and the small talk had begun, Mrs. McDermott let it be known that she thought it would be a nice idea for the city to have a new museum. The present one was a bit crowded, and nobody liked having all those treasures hidden away in the basement.

Heads nodded, faces brightened. No commitments were made, but everyone in the room knew that the seed had just been planted. “That was Harry’s coup,” says one trustee. “Once Mrs. McDermott and the Acquisitions Committee were with him, there was only one way to go.”

Before long, the Museum was doing a study of its own space and facilities to determine just what its needs were. The list was extensive: more exhibition space, a sculpture garden, improved library and educational facilities, a photography studio, a lab, more storage space, escape from the corny dog and roller coaster atmosphere of Fair Park. Big demands, but nothing that a new building couldn’t satisfy. Staffers suddenly became experts on space problems, and the joke going around was that you could never get them to talk about art any more because they were too busy measuring things.

Months before the arrival of Carrhidden away in the basement.

Heads nodded, faces brightened. No commitments were made, but everyone in the room knew that the seed had just been planted. “That was Harry’s coup,” says one trustee. “Once Mrs. McDermott and the Acquisitions Committee were with him, there was only one way to go.”

Before long, the Museum was doing a study of its own space and facilities to determine just what its needs were. The list was extensive: more exhibition space, a sculpture garden, improved library and educational facilities, a photography studio, a lab, more storage space, escape from the corny dog and roller coaster atmosphere of Fair Park. Big demands, but nothing that a new building couldn’t satisfy. Staffers suddenly became experts on space problems, and the joke going around was that you could never get them to talk about art any more because they were too busy measuring things.

Months before the arrival of CarrLynch, the Museum announced, with much fanfare, the appointment of Edward Larrabee Bames as its architect. He’d already designed the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis and the Scaife addition to the Carnegie Institute of Art in Pittsburgh. Obviously a heavyweight. Without anyone actually saying so, the new museum was moving rapidly from a “nice idea” to a fait accompli. In the public’s mind, the question was no longer if but when.

But the key to the Museum’s strategy was making the city an offer it couldn’t refuse. If the city would buy the land, the museum would not only split the cost of the building, roughly $20 million, but throw in another $5 million to cover operating expenses, thus avoiding a disaster like the one in Atlanta, where new facilities turned into albatrosses for lack of an endowment. A big chunk of this money was already pledged by members of the board of trustees. What’s more, and this was the trump card, some of the same people were prepared to donate their private collections to the city if, but only if, there was a new museum to house them. The new acquisitions would fill gaps in Lynch, the Museum announced, with much fanfare, the appointment of Edward Larrabee Bames as its architect. He’d already designed the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis and the Scaife addition to the Carnegie Institute of Art in Pittsburgh. Obviously a heavyweight. Without anyone actually saying so, the new museum was moving rapidly from a “nice idea” to a fait accompli. In the public’s mind, the question was no longer if but when.

But the key to the Museum’s strategy was making the city an offer it couldn’t refuse. If the city would buy the land, the museum would not only split the cost of the building, roughly $20 million, but throw in another $5 million to cover operating expenses, thus avoiding a disaster like the one in Atlanta, where new facilities turned into albatrosses for lack of an endowment. A big chunk of this money was already pledged by members of the board of trustees. What’s more, and this was the trump card, some of the same people were prepared to donate their private collections to the city if, but only if, there was a new museum to house them. The new acquisitions would fill gaps in the present collection and likely propel the museum from the middle of the second rank into the top ten. It was also pointed out that some of the donors were getting old and couldn’t wait forever for an answer.

Discussions were now on a different plane. “We were no longer talking about only a building and a site,” says Parker, “but about a new institution.” To those who were worried about upstart cities like Fort Worth and Houston, this was a persuasive argument. To the downtown business leaders, accustomed to thinking of arts institutions as freeloaders, it sounded like one hell of a deal. Upwards of $30 million of art for around $10 million, not to mention all the new visitors to the CBD. Better than a fire sale. Critics of the Museum are claiming that the city is being blackmailed by a handful of collectors into building a private museum at public the present collection and likely propel the museum from the middle of the second rank into the top ten. It was also pointed out that some of the donors were getting old and couldn’t wait forever for an answer.

Discussions were now on a different plane. “We were no longer talking about only a building and a site,” says Parker, “but about a new institution.” To those who were worried about upstart cities like Fort Worth and Houston, this was a persuasive argument. To the downtown business leaders, accustomed to thinking of arts institutions as freeloaders, it sounded like one hell of a deal. Upwards of $30 million of art for around $10 million, not to mention all the new visitors to the CBD. Better than a fire sale. Critics of the Museum are claiming that the city is being blackmailed by a handful of collectors into building a private museum at public expense, but when you ask them if that possibility would be enough to halt the Museum’s surge they laugh and say, “Of course not.”

People at the Symphony agree, but for different reasons. They admire Parker’s chutzpah and probably wish they didn’t have to keep such a low profile. They probably also wish that he and Carr-Lynch would take a vacation for a year or two until they get their house in order. There’s a feeling that the DMFA has become a kind of juggernaut rumbling down the road, dragging everyone else along behind. Given the choice, the Symphony would undoubtedly prefer to devote most of its energy to raising the close to $3 million it will need to stay afloat this season (by comparison, the Museum’s annual operating budget is roughly $750,000). Thanks to the belt-tightening policies of Lloyd Haldeman, the new superstar among arts managers, expenses are not zooming out of sight the way they did in 1973-74, when the business community cried “Enough!” and foreclosed on the whole operation. Still, the orchestra did finish last season slightly in the red, and this year’s fund drive is apparently lagging. Some supporters are said to be just plain expense, but when you ask them if that possibility would be enough to halt the Museum’s surge they laugh and say, “Of course not.”

People at the Symphony agree, but for different reasons. They admire Parker’s chutzpah and probably wish they didn’t have to keep such a low profile. They probably also wish that he and Carr-Lynch would take a vacation for a year or two until they get their house in order. There’s a feeling that the DMFA has become a kind of juggernaut rumbling down the road, dragging everyone else along behind. Given the choice, the Symphony would undoubtedly prefer to devote most of its energy to raising the close to $3 million it will need to stay afloat this season (by comparison, the Museum’s annual operating budget is roughly $750,000). Thanks to the belt-tightening policies of Lloyd Haldeman, the new superstar among arts managers, expenses are not zooming out of sight the way they did in 1973-74, when the business community cried “Enough!” and foreclosed on the whole operation. Still, the orchestra did finish last season slightly in the red, and this year’s fund drive is apparently lagging. Some supporters are said to be just plain tired of being dunned every fall for $20,000, while others seem to have adopted a cavalier attitude, feeling that if the Symphony survived the debacle of 1973-74 it will survive anything. All of which leaves the Symphony in a bind. It’s not really sound enough to make a big push, it’s afraid of going out on a limb, and it’s being goosed by the Museum.

The Museum board is scheduled to meet December 1 to decide on a final site, most likely the tract bounded by Ross, St. Paul, and Woodall Rodgers, and it needs to know who its neighbors are going to be. The Symphony is a known quantity. Are they interested? Will they commit? The executive committees of the two organizations will be getting together to work out a solution, and the Museum seems prepared to use a little tired of being dunned every fall for $20,000, while others seem to have adopted a cavalier attitude, feeling that if the Symphony survived the debacle of 1973-74 it will survive anything. All of which leaves the Symphony in a bind. It’s not really sound enough to make a big push, it’s afraid of going out on a limb, and it’s being goosed by the Museum.

The Museum board is scheduled to meet December 1 to decide on a final site, most likely the tract bounded by Ross, St. Paul, and Woodall Rodgers, and it needs to know who its neighbors are going to be. The Symphony is a known quantity. Are they interested? Will they commit? The executive committees of the two organizations will be getting together to work out a solution, and the Museum seems prepared to use a little muscle, although since there is so much cross-over on the two boards it may have to be the nose-tweaking variety. Chances are that, ready or not, the Symphony is going to follow the Museum downtown.

The question of location, which has plagued the Symphony more than the other arts organizations, crystallizes many of the social and political issues involved in trying to set up an arts district.

All the surveys done by the Symphony indicate that the overwhelming percentage of its support comes from North Dallas. Moving downtown means moving away from that market, something that many board members don’t like. It could also mean the loss of substantial private backing, something they like even less.

Last summer, for example, Ross Perot subsidized the orchestra’s Starlight Series on the EDS grounds in North Dallas to the tune of $80,000, in addition to turning over all proceeds from ticket sales. Officials are hopeful that this arrangement will continue. But Perot has also reportedly offered to subsidize construction of a new concert hall, provided that it is part of an existing complex, presumably at EDS, so that he can take advantage of the substantial tax break.

A number of trustees have argued that the Orchestra is in no position to look a muscle, although since there is so much cross-over on the two boards it may have to be the nose-tweaking variety. Chances are that, ready or not, the Symphony is going to follow the Museum downtown.

The question of location, which has plagued the Symphony more than the other arts organizations, crystallizes many of the social and political issues involved in trying to set up an arts district.

All the surveys done by the Symphony indicate that the overwhelming percentage of its support comes from North Dallas. Moving downtown means moving away from that market, something that many board members don’t like. It could also mean the loss of substantial private backing, something they like even less.

Last summer, for example, Ross Perot subsidized the orchestra’s Starlight Series on the EDS grounds in North Dallas to the tune of $80,000, in addition to turning over all proceeds from ticket sales. Officials are hopeful that this arrangement will continue. But Perot has also reportedly offered to subsidize construction of a new concert hall, provided that it is part of an existing complex, presumably at EDS, so that he can take advantage of the substantial tax break.

A number of trustees have argued that the Orchestra is in no position to look a gift horse in the mouth and would like to pursue the offer; others are talking about it as a “flyer,” along the lines of Perot’s “business school” project in 1970. Grants of $50,000 were made to four universities (SMU, TCU, NTSU, A&M) for internships, curriculum development, and a general upgrading of business education in the Southwest. According to Bobby Lyle, then Executive Dean of the SMU business school, the Perot Foundation made no promises beyond the terms of the initial grant. But he does concede that there were expectations of additional funds. “I can’t say whether these were generated internally or not. All I know is that we were told that the Foundation would be willing to back any project they liked. They must not have liked ours because we never got any more money.”

For its part, the city has made it clear gift horse in the mouth and would like to pursue the offer; others are talking about it as a “flyer,” along the lines of Perot’s “business school” project in 1970. Grants of $50,000 were made to four universities (SMU, TCU, NTSU, A&M) for internships, curriculum development, and a general upgrading of business education in the Southwest. According to Bobby Lyle, then Executive Dean of the SMU business school, the Perot Foundation made no promises beyond the terms of the initial grant. But he does concede that there were expectations of additional funds. “I can’t say whether these were generated internally or not. All I know is that we were told that the Foundation would be willing to back any project they liked. They must not have liked ours because we never got any more money.”

For its part, the city has made it clear that if the Symphony locates in North Dallas, it can forget getting on the April 1978 bond election. The reasons are obvious. Downtown is socially neutral and North Dallas is not. If the city is going to spend public funds for new facilities, they have to be accessible to the entire population, not just a select few. “It would be a mistake to locate any of these institutions in North Dallas,” says Sid Stahl. “They would cease to be civic institutions.”

Nor would they help to revitalize down-town or serve as landmarks of civic pride and accomplishment. Opportunities for developing joint programs and sharing facilities, one of the appeals of an “arts district,” would disappear. “I really feel sorry for Lloyd,” says one city official, “He would like to go North probably, his business instincts tell him it’s the thing to do, but he knows he could never finance it. The public and the city council would clobber him.”

In all of this, the CBDA has stood squarely behind the city, shouting “right on!” It’s no secret that they consider new arts facilities as one of the keys to a down-town renaissance, just as they consider every new development beyond North-west Highway as a grim sign that Dallas that if the Symphony locates in North Dallas, it can forget getting on the April 1978 bond election. The reasons are obvious. Downtown is socially neutral and North Dallas is not. If the city is going to spend public funds for new facilities, they have to be accessible to the entire population, not just a select few. “It would be a mistake to locate any of these institutions in North Dallas,” says Sid Stahl. “They would cease to be civic institutions.”

Nor would they help to revitalize down-town or serve as landmarks of civic pride and accomplishment. Opportunities for developing joint programs and sharing facilities, one of the appeals of an “arts district,” would disappear. “I really feel sorry for Lloyd,” says one city official, “He would like to go North probably, his business instincts tell him it’s the thing to do, but he knows he could never finance it. The public and the city council would clobber him.”

In all of this, the CBDA has stood squarely behind the city, shouting “right on!” It’s no secret that they consider new arts facilities as one of the keys to a down-town renaissance, just as they consider every new development beyond North-west Highway as a grim sign that Dallas is going to become another Los Angeles. Does this mean that downtown money might disappear if any of the major arts organizations decided to go elsewhere?

“There’s been some talk of that,” says CBDA head Jim Cloar. “It’s difficult to say how serious it is, but it is something that would have to be considered.”

Members of the association are known to be unhappy with certain parts of the Carr-Lynch report. For example, the idea that the different arts facilities be located in some kind of a district instead of being sprinkled around the central core, as the CBDA wanted, has left some merchants feeling cheated.

Some wrangling has already taken place over which end of Main Street should have a Museum and which a concert hall. There’s also some uneasiness about the possibility of special zoning for an arts district, especially if it would affect existing structures. That’s downright un-American. “The best way to generate support for the arts is not to infringe on private property,” says Cloar. Yet the CBDA knows it’s getting a good deal and is unlikely to press its objections very is going to become another Los Angeles. Does this mean that downtown money might disappear if any of the major arts organizations decided to go elsewhere?

“There’s been some talk of that,” says CBDA head Jim Cloar. “It’s difficult to say how serious it is, but it is something that would have to be considered.”

Members of the association are known to be unhappy with certain parts of the Carr-Lynch report. For example, the idea that the different arts facilities be located in some kind of a district instead of being sprinkled around the central core, as the CBDA wanted, has left some merchants feeling cheated.

Some wrangling has already taken place over which end of Main Street should have a Museum and which a concert hall. There’s also some uneasiness about the possibility of special zoning for an arts district, especially if it would affect existing structures. That’s downright un-American. “The best way to generate support for the arts is not to infringe on private property,” says Cloar. Yet the CBDA knows it’s getting a good deal and is unlikely to press its objections very strongly.

The one issue on which the Symphony is totally clear is the need for a concert hall of its own, preferably a shoe-box structure along the lines of the Kennedy Center Orchestra Hall. The Music Hall, they announce daily, is too large for their needs and an acoustical horror, particularly under the balconies. They get support on this point from many quarters, including Dallas News music critic John Ardoin, not known as a friend of Symphony management. “We’ll never get a true measure of the quality of the orchestra until it gets out of the Music Hall,” he says emphatically.

An even bigger problem is scheduling. With musicians now being paid on a 52-week basis, it is imperative that the orchestra have a continuous season. Under the present arrangement, however, it hardly begins its fall subscription series in September before it has to vacate for the State Fair and the Opera until Destrongly.

The one issue on which the Symphony is totally clear is the need for a concert hall of its own, preferably a shoe-box structure along the lines of the Kennedy Center Orchestra Hall. The Music Hall, they announce daily, is too large for their needs and an acoustical horror, particularly under the balconies. They get support on this point from many quarters, including Dallas News music critic John Ardoin, not known as a friend of Symphony management. “We’ll never get a true measure of the quality of the orchestra until it gets out of the Music Hall,” he says emphatically.

An even bigger problem is scheduling. With musicians now being paid on a 52-week basis, it is imperative that the orchestra have a continuous season. Under the present arrangement, however, it hardly begins its fall subscription series in September before it has to vacate for the State Fair and the Opera until December. It often finds itself sandwiched between the Nutcracker and Annie Get Your Gun, not to mention all the rock groups and bands of gypsy yodelers that come through. Last season it played more than half its concerts outside the Music Hall, generally in surrounding cities or in makeshift facilities. It insists that going into a new multi-purpose hall, as the Opera has proposed, would not solve its scheduling problems – it estimates it needs a hall about 300 days a year – while committing it to enormous additional expenses for a stage house, special lighting and so on.

“Construction of a multi-purpose hall would mean we’d have to go to our supporters twice,” says Philip Jonsson, board chairman. “Once for the large facility, then again for a concert hall. We couldn’t cember. It often finds itself sandwiched between the Nutcracker and Annie Get Your Gun, not to mention all the rock groups and bands of gypsy yodelers that come through. Last season it played more than half its concerts outside the Music Hall, generally in surrounding cities or in makeshift facilities. It insists that going into a new multi-purpose hall, as the Opera has proposed, would not solve its scheduling problems – it estimates it needs a hall about 300 days a year – while committing it to enormous additional expenses for a stage house, special lighting and so on.

“Construction of a multi-purpose hall would mean we’d have to go to our supporters twice,” says Philip Jonsson, board chairman. “Once for the large facility, then again for a concert hall. We couldn’t get away with it.”

Implicit in this statement, of course, is the Symphony’s determination to establish its own identity as a cultural institution, artistically and architecturally. It plans to be the hub of the performing arts revival, and while it needs the Opera to help pay the bills, it’s not about to exist in its shadow. The consensus is that in the same house the two organizations would be about as compatible as a cobra and a mongoose.

The Opera doesn’t deny there are problems with a multi-purpose hall (they want their own opera house as badly as the Symphony wants a concert hall), but in making its case it tends to talk in terms of the realities of funding. “You have to build your most expensive facility first or it won’t get built,”says Jay Jacks, president of the Opera. After ticking off a few examples, he adds, “When people in Europe talk about the arts in Dallas, they talk about the Opera, not the Symphony or the Museum. We brought Callas and Zeffirelli here when nobody else would take a chance on them.’’ Few dispute the Opera’s claim to artistic preeminence in Dallas. The gut issue is money, however, and opera takes a lot of it. As one theater trustee remarked, “The Opera probably get away with it.”

Implicit in this statement, of course, is the Symphony’s determination to establish its own identity as a cultural institution, artistically and architecturally. It plans to be the hub of the performing arts revival, and while it needs the Opera to help pay the bills, it’s not about to exist in its shadow. The consensus is that in the same house the two organizations would be about as compatible as a cobra and a mongoose.

The Opera doesn’t deny there are problems with a multi-purpose hall (they want their own opera house as badly as the Symphony wants a concert hall), but in making its case it tends to talk in terms of the realities of funding. “You have to build your most expensive facility first or it won’t get built,”says Jay Jacks, president of the Opera. After ticking off a few examples, he adds, “When people in Europe talk about the arts in Dallas, they talk about the Opera, not the Symphony or the Museum. We brought Callas and Zeffirelli here when nobody else would take a chance on them.’’ Few dispute the Opera’s claim to artistic preeminence in Dallas. The gut issue is money, however, and opera takes a lot of it. As one theater trustee remarked, “The Opera probably spends more on one set than we do on an entire season, and until that changes they can’t expect to get very far.”

This seems to reflect the general view that the city plans to be hard-nosed in evaluating the requests from each arts organization. “No bucks, no building” is the rule of thumb, and certainly no building for a 16-production season. To expand to 48 productions, which it hopes to do by 1980, the Opera has a lot of work to do. Like the Symphony, it has to cover a large annual budget, nearly $1,350,000 this year, before it can think about additional-fund raising. But there are no Jons-sons, Marcuses, and McDermotts on its board.

Both Jay Jacks and the executive director of the Opera, Plato Karayanis, are newcomers without access to the cor-idors of power. Finding a key to that inner sanctum is one of Karayanis’ top priorities, along with broadening the Opera’s base of support in the community at large. “We’ve got an image problem, no doubt about it,” he says. “We’re generally perceived as the art for the wealthy and the ultra-sophisticated, whereas we need to be selling ourselves as a great spectator sport.” Whether the Opera becomes the spends more on one set than we do on an entire season, and until that changes they can’t expect to get very far.”

This seems to reflect the general view that the city plans to be hard-nosed in evaluating the requests from each arts organization. “No bucks, no building” is the rule of thumb, and certainly no building for a 16-production season. To expand to 48 productions, which it hopes to do by 1980, the Opera has a lot of work to do. Like the Symphony, it has to cover a large annual budget, nearly $1,350,000 this year, before it can think about additional-fund raising. But there are no Jons-sons, Marcuses, and McDermotts on its board.

Both Jay Jacks and the executive director of the Opera, Plato Karayanis, are newcomers without access to the cor-idors of power. Finding a key to that inner sanctum is one of Karayanis’ top priorities, along with broadening the Opera’s base of support in the community at large. “We’ve got an image problem, no doubt about it,” he says. “We’re generally perceived as the art for the wealthy and the ultra-sophisticated, whereas we need to be selling ourselves as a great spectator sport.” Whether the Opera becomes the Cowboys of the Dallas arts organizations is an open question at the moment. They’ve hired an outside ad agency for the first time in memory and have been conducting an impressive media blitz. Things are beginning to shape up, but obviously not fast enough for them to get out of the Music Hall in the immediate future.

Of the other organizations prominently mentioned in the Carr-Lynch report, only Theatre Three and the Theater Center appear to have any chance of being ready by the January 1 deadline, the first because it won’t need that much money ($1 million), the second because it already owns the land for a building and has engaged an architect, Kenzo Tange, to design it. (The Ballet has said flatly that it’s concentrating on developing a professional company of area dancers and has no plans to move, unless it’s to the renovated Majestic Theater, which appears high on the list of priorities at the moment.)

Theater Center spokesmen say they’re ready to go, but the folks at City Hall are expressing doubts. “Lots of talk but no dollars so far,” says one planner. Theatre Three has been scouting the terrain for a single donor, and has talked with several downtown developers about becoming a resident company. So far nothing has come of this or of negotiations with the Symphony for a joint theater-music conservatory. “But we’re working at it,” says Jac Alder. “We don’t want to sit this Cowboys of the Dallas arts organizations is an open question at the moment. They’ve hired an outside ad agency for the first time in memory and have been conducting an impressive media blitz. Things are beginning to shape up, but obviously not fast enough for them to get out of the Music Hall in the immediate future.

Of the other organizations prominently mentioned in the Carr-Lynch report, only Theatre Three and the Theater Center appear to have any chance of being ready by the January 1 deadline, the first because it won’t need that much money ($1 million), the second because it already owns the land for a building and has engaged an architect, Kenzo Tange, to design it. (The Ballet has said flatly that it’s concentrating on developing a professional company of area dancers and has no plans to move, unless it’s to the renovated Majestic Theater, which appears high on the list of priorities at the moment.)

Theater Center spokesmen say they’re ready to go, but the folks at City Hall are expressing doubts. “Lots of talk but no dollars so far,” says one planner. Theatre Three has been scouting the terrain for a single donor, and has talked with several downtown developers about becoming a resident company. So far nothing has come of this or of negotiations with the Symphony for a joint theater-music conservatory. “But we’re working at it,” says Jac Alder. “We don’t want to sit this one out. We may never get another chance.”

This “now or never” attitude is widespread, even among organizations to whom long-range planning is as foreign as tai chi. The word is that the outlook for the arts in Dallas has never been better, but no one really knows what to expect. “We’ll be as good as the Met in a few years, maybe even La Scala,” gushes one opera enthusiast, as though she’d suddenly found herself in the Florence of the Medicis. “What’s going to happen is that the Museum and the Symphony will get new homes and everyone else will get screwed,” says a long-time arts watcher. “In three years the Carr-Lynch report will be forgotten just like all the other reports. That’s the way things go here.”

As usual, the truth is probably somewhere in between. No doubt the city is going to be tough-minded in screening proposals. ’Tis not the time to be Utopian or philosophical. “Fiscal responsibility,” measured in terms of cash in the bank, is going to be just as important as “artistic merit.” On the other hand, there are real signs that the arts’ time has come. When ads for Rigoletto start turning up on KVIL and politicians start talking about the importance of the arts, then things are changing.

The remarkable turn-around of the Symphony is a good example of what Dallas can do once it makes up its mind. In 1974, the orchestra was destitute and one out. We may never get another chance.”

This “now or never” attitude is widespread, even among organizations to whom long-range planning is as foreign as tai chi. The word is that the outlook for the arts in Dallas has never been better, but no one really knows what to expect. “We’ll be as good as the Met in a few years, maybe even La Scala,” gushes one opera enthusiast, as though she’d suddenly found herself in the Florence of the Medicis. “What’s going to happen is that the Museum and the Symphony will get new homes and everyone else will get screwed,” says a long-time arts watcher. “In three years the Carr-Lynch report will be forgotten just like all the other reports. That’s the way things go here.”

As usual, the truth is probably somewhere in between. No doubt the city is going to be tough-minded in screening proposals. ’Tis not the time to be Utopian or philosophical. “Fiscal responsibility,” measured in terms of cash in the bank, is going to be just as important as “artistic merit.” On the other hand, there are real signs that the arts’ time has come. When ads for Rigoletto start turning up on KVIL and politicians start talking about the importance of the arts, then things are changing.

The remarkable turn-around of the Symphony is a good example of what Dallas can do once it makes up its mind. In 1974, the orchestra was destitute and demoralized, without money, a season, credit, or credibility. It had become a national joke told each evening by Walter Cronkite and David Brinkley. Something had to be done, and fast.

Enter Lloyd Haldeman, an “orchestra doctor” from the Cincinnati Symphony with a reputation as a solid, bottom-line man. Within two years he had wiped out the orchestra’s debt, expanded the season to 52 weeks, started the system of regional concerts and the very lucrative Summertop series, and in general managed to convince the business community that the Symphony is no longer an irresponsible child that couldn’t be trusted with its allowance. Credit has become available once again, fund drives sailed through screening committees without a hitch.

With the budget more or less balanced, attention turned to finding a conductor of international stature who would demoralized, without money, a season, credit, or credibility. It had become a national joke told each evening by Walter Cronkite and David Brinkley. Something had to be done, and fast.

Enter Lloyd Haldeman, an “orchestra doctor” from the Cincinnati Symphony with a reputation as a solid, bottom-line man. Within two years he had wiped out the orchestra’s debt, expanded the season to 52 weeks, started the system of regional concerts and the very lucrative Summertop series, and in general managed to convince the business community that the Symphony is no longer an irresponsible child that couldn’t be trusted with its allowance. Credit has become available once again, fund drives sailed through screening committees without a hitch.

With the budget more or less balanced, attention turned to finding a conductor of international stature who would restore the orchestra’s tarnished image. The first choice was Daniel Barenboim, who declined because his wife, Jacqueline DuPre, was ill with multiple sclerosis and couldn’t leave London. The Symphony persisted, reportedly offering to have her case reviewed by specialists at Southwestern Medical School. The answer was still no.

Next, a search committee led by Halde-man and Stanley Marcus flew to New York, where they were greeted with the news that chronic labor problems, salary disputes, and a sorry record of public support for an orchestra made Dallas the least attractive post in the country for a major conductor. Isaac Stem reportedly told them he would never set foot in the city again – a vow he has since broken. Focus shifted briefly to Thomas Schippers of the Cincinnati Symphony and Leonard Slatkin, then with the St. Louis Orchestra and now conductor in New Orleans. Same story. Dallas was a musical wasteland. restore the orchestra’s tarnished image. The first choice was Daniel Barenboim, who declined because his wife, Jacqueline DuPre, was ill with multiple sclerosis and couldn’t leave London. The Symphony persisted, reportedly offering to have her case reviewed by specialists at Southwestern Medical School. The answer was still no.

Next, a search committee led by Halde-man and Stanley Marcus flew to New York, where they were greeted with the news that chronic labor problems, salary disputes, and a sorry record of public support for an orchestra made Dallas the least attractive post in the country for a major conductor. Isaac Stem reportedly told them he would never set foot in the city again – a vow he has since broken. Focus shifted briefly to Thomas Schippers of the Cincinnati Symphony and Leonard Slatkin, then with the St. Louis Orchestra and now conductor in New Orleans. Same story. Dallas was a musical wasteland. Realizing that they were going to have to settle for a “brilliant comer” instead of an established star, the committee set out on another round of visits, listening to concerts all over the country, talking with every promising young conductor they could.

The name Eduardo Mata came up. He was with the Phoenix Symphony, no great shakes by any standards, but he had a considerable reputation in England and Europe. Better yet, he was Mexican and Dallas was a southwestern city with strong cultural and ecomomic ties to Mexico. The circumstances seemed right, so he was invited to Dallas a number of times. Lunch at the City Club, dinner at Arthur’s, cozy receptions at the homes of all the important orchestra backers.

People were impressed, but not completely convinced. The clincher came during a lengthy interview in Mata’s suite at the Fairmont. Conversation turned to strategies for building an orchestra, obviously a crucial subject for the committee. Realizing that they were going to have to settle for a “brilliant comer” instead of an established star, the committee set out on another round of visits, listening to concerts all over the country, talking with every promising young conductor they could.

The name Eduardo Mata came up. He was with the Phoenix Symphony, no great shakes by any standards, but he had a considerable reputation in England and Europe. Better yet, he was Mexican and Dallas was a southwestern city with strong cultural and ecomomic ties to Mexico. The circumstances seemed right, so he was invited to Dallas a number of times. Lunch at the City Club, dinner at Arthur’s, cozy receptions at the homes of all the important orchestra backers.

People were impressed, but not completely convinced. The clincher came during a lengthy interview in Mata’s suite at the Fairmont. Conversation turned to strategies for building an orchestra, obviously a crucial subject for the committee. How would Mata go about doing this? How would he attract new musicians? What would he do to generate public support? After two hours, the committee came away convinced that. Phoenix or not, here was the man to lead the Symphony out of the dark ages. Mata was hired. The “Mexican Connection” was made.

The city is going to have to show similar determination in building its new arts program. Unlike older cities like Boston and New York, Dallas is only beginning to formulate a coherent arts policy. In the past, money for the arts has been appropriated by the city council and funneled through the Parks Board, which then dealt directly with the individual organHow would Mata go about doing this? How would he attract new musicians? What would he do to generate public support? After two hours, the committee came away convinced that. Phoenix or not, here was the man to lead the Symphony out of the dark ages. Mata was hired. The “Mexican Connection” was made.

The city is going to have to show similar determination in building its new arts program. Unlike older cities like Boston and New York, Dallas is only beginning to formulate a coherent arts policy. In the past, money for the arts has been appropriated by the city council and funneled through the Parks Board, which then dealt directly with the individual organizations, sometimes acting as a landlord, as with the Museum and the Theater Center, other times providing outright grants and subsidies, as with the Opera and Symphony. Policy was established more or less by accident, and little attention was paid to setting priorities for funding and expansion.

Now that proposals are descending on City Hall like confetti, such a casual approach will have to change. The City Arts Program, headed by Richard Huff and Diana Clark, was set up last year to help shape city policy. A peek at its quarters in City Hall shows where things stand at the moment: books and papers stacked in one comer, tables overflowing with maps and posters for special events, with barely izations, sometimes acting as a landlord, as with the Museum and the Theater Center, other times providing outright grants and subsidies, as with the Opera and Symphony. Policy was established more or less by accident, and little attention was paid to setting priorities for funding and expansion.

Now that proposals are descending on City Hall like confetti, such a casual approach will have to change. The City Arts Program, headed by Richard Huff and Diana Clark, was set up last year to help shape city policy. A peek at its quarters in City Hall shows where things stand at the moment: books and papers stacked in one comer, tables overflowing with maps and posters for special events, with barely enough room for a desk and a couple of chairs.

“You could say we’re the liaison between the arts groups and city government,” Richard explains, tilting back in his chair until he can almost touch three walls simultaneously. “More precisely, we try to help arts groups become better organized, while explaining to the city fathers that being organized doesn’t mean being like General Motors.”

Undoubtedly the toughest task facing the Arts Program will be determining who gets what, not only the big organizations but groups such as the Dallas Minority Repertory Theater and the Classical Guitar Society. General criteria such as “artistic maturity” and “range of services” will have to be translated into dollars and cents. Should city support be 50 percent? 75 percent? 25 percent? The Carr-Lynch Report suggests a 50-50, public-private split for the cost of enough room for a desk and a couple of chairs.

“You could say we’re the liaison between the arts groups and city government,” Richard explains, tilting back in his chair until he can almost touch three walls simultaneously. “More precisely, we try to help arts groups become better organized, while explaining to the city fathers that being organized doesn’t mean being like General Motors.”

Undoubtedly the toughest task facing the Arts Program will be determining who gets what, not only the big organizations but groups such as the Dallas Minority Repertory Theater and the Classical Guitar Society. General criteria such as “artistic maturity” and “range of services” will have to be translated into dollars and cents. Should city support be 50 percent? 75 percent? 25 percent? The Carr-Lynch Report suggests a 50-50, public-private split for the cost of land and building, dropping to around .35-65 65 if public improvements are taken into account. These are soft ratios, of course, but Huff believes they are about right. “The city obviously has a role to play in sustaining any new facilities, but it shouldn’t be the dominant role. Fifty percent or less is reasonable.”

Tell that to the arts organizations, however, and you hear a chorus of groans and protests. The Museum is resigned to a 50-50 split but would like more, citing the fact that the city owns the collections and, unlike the Symphony and the Opera, it doesn’t sell tickets or have a season. The Theater Center is looking for a better split because it has given the city a landmark building, whereas the Symphony is worried about the 50-50 arrangement and is positively apoplectic about the prospect of less.

To avoid squabbling and the appearland and building, dropping to around .35-65 65 if public improvements are taken into account. These are soft ratios, of course, but Huff believes they are about right. “The city obviously has a role to play in sustaining any new facilities, but it shouldn’t be the dominant role. Fifty percent or less is reasonable.”

Tell that to the arts organizations, however, and you hear a chorus of groans and protests. The Museum is resigned to a 50-50 split but would like more, citing the fact that the city owns the collections and, unlike the Symphony and the Opera, it doesn’t sell tickets or have a season. The Theater Center is looking for a better split because it has given the city a landmark building, whereas the Symphony is worried about the 50-50 arrangement and is positively apoplectic about the prospect of less.

To avoid squabbling and the appearance of favoritism, the city is seriously considering equalizing subsidies on a percentage basis. Theater Three would be delighted with this because it currently receives nothing at all, but the Museum would balk because it would then be lumped together with all the performing arts organizations. Not that that would be so bad. except officials feel they ought to get a little better treatment for having led the parade from the beginning. “We’re going to see a lot of maneuvering on this point,” says City Manager George Schrader, in a tone that suggests he isn’t looking forward to it one bit.

But the public maneuvering may be tame compared to what will go on in the private sector. If it’s no longer true that by shooting the members of one board of trustees you’d kill off the other boards as well, there is still a lot of overlap, particularly when you count nephews, cousins, aunts, and sons-in-law. A handful of people sit on the boards of three of the Big Four (Museum, Symphony, Opera, Theater Center), considerably more sit on at least two. What’s going to happen if ance of favoritism, the city is seriously considering equalizing subsidies on a percentage basis. Theater Three would be delighted with this because it currently receives nothing at all, but the Museum would balk because it would then be lumped together with all the performing arts organizations. Not that that would be so bad. except officials feel they ought to get a little better treatment for having led the parade from the beginning. “We’re going to see a lot of maneuvering on this point,” says City Manager George Schrader, in a tone that suggests he isn’t looking forward to it one bit.

But the public maneuvering may be tame compared to what will go on in the private sector. If it’s no longer true that by shooting the members of one board of trustees you’d kill off the other boards as well, there is still a lot of overlap, particularly when you count nephews, cousins, aunts, and sons-in-law. A handful of people sit on the boards of three of the Big Four (Museum, Symphony, Opera, Theater Center), considerably more sit on at least two. What’s going to happen if several of these organizations launch fund drives at approximately the same time? “That’s a fact of life here in Dallas,” says one director, “and we’ll just have to deal with it.” “Go away, I don’t even want to think about it,” pleads another. So far, no organization has printed up “reserved” signs for its key supporters, and all claim that they want to avoid a wild and divisive scramble for pledges that would only leave the powerful organizations flush and the others destitute.

Yet whenever an alternative is proposed, such as some kind of a joint fund drive, a United Way for the arts, it gets hooted down. It’s said that such a move would only reopen old wounds and destroy the budding spirit of camaraderie among the various organizations. It would also mean that everyone would end up with a smaller slice of pie, and at the moment nobody seems to be in a dieting mood.

Considering what’s at stake and the amount of pressure the organizations are several of these organizations launch fund drives at approximately the same time? “That’s a fact of life here in Dallas,” says one director, “and we’ll just have to deal with it.” “Go away, I don’t even want to think about it,” pleads another. So far, no organization has printed up “reserved” signs for its key supporters, and all claim that they want to avoid a wild and divisive scramble for pledges that would only leave the powerful organizations flush and the others destitute.

Yet whenever an alternative is proposed, such as some kind of a joint fund drive, a United Way for the arts, it gets hooted down. It’s said that such a move would only reopen old wounds and destroy the budding spirit of camaraderie among the various organizations. It would also mean that everyone would end up with a smaller slice of pie, and at the moment nobody seems to be in a dieting mood.

Considering what’s at stake and the amount of pressure the organizations are under to get their proposals ready (the deadline for declarations is January 1), tempers have remained remarkably cool. No bloodlettings so far, no contracts put out, no indications that one or another power bloc is about to rise up and sabotage the whole effort, something that might have happened a decade ago.

Most of the harsh words, in fact, have been saved for Fair Park, to the point that Musicals director Tom Hughes complained at a recent meeting on the Carr-Lynch Report that the Opera and the Symphony were ruining his business by attacking the Music Hall so vigorously. Someone else suggested there might be other factors, but Hughes does have a point. However dreary and inaccessible Fair Park may be, its critics have also been indulging in a bit of rhetorical over-kill to further their own ends. The public can’t be expected to understand acoustics and the problems of storing precious works of art, but it does realize that it’s not a under to get their proposals ready (the deadline for declarations is January 1), tempers have remained remarkably cool. No bloodlettings so far, no contracts put out, no indications that one or another power bloc is about to rise up and sabotage the whole effort, something that might have happened a decade ago.

Most of the harsh words, in fact, have been saved for Fair Park, to the point that Musicals director Tom Hughes complained at a recent meeting on the Carr-Lynch Report that the Opera and the Symphony were ruining his business by attacking the Music Hall so vigorously. Someone else suggested there might be other factors, but Hughes does have a point. However dreary and inaccessible Fair Park may be, its critics have also been indulging in a bit of rhetorical over-kill to further their own ends. The public can’t be expected to understand acoustics and the problems of storing precious works of art, but it does realize that it’s not a good idea for the city’s major cultural institution to be on “condemned land.”

So to an extent, attacking Fair Park is part of the arts organizations’ strategy for getting out. Once they have gone, Fair Park will undoubtedly be examined in a cooler, less prejudicial light. Plans for the Texas Sesquicentennial in 1986 are underway, and there’s talk of a World’s Fair as well as the Olympics (although business leaders are saying privately they hope that last chronic money loser ends up on the moon). The Carr-Lynch Report contains suggestions for turning Fair Park into an educational center. They aren’t well thought out but they are obviously meant to be more than a sop to the locals. The city has recently revived plans for a boulevard linking the Park with down-town, and the Parks Board is in the middle of a feasibility study on ways to use the area the other 11 months of the year. “In the 1975 bond program, we couldn’t good idea for the city’s major cultural institution to be on “condemned land.”

So to an extent, attacking Fair Park is part of the arts organizations’ strategy for getting out. Once they have gone, Fair Park will undoubtedly be examined in a cooler, less prejudicial light. Plans for the Texas Sesquicentennial in 1986 are underway, and there’s talk of a World’s Fair as well as the Olympics (although business leaders are saying privately they hope that last chronic money loser ends up on the moon). The Carr-Lynch Report contains suggestions for turning Fair Park into an educational center. They aren’t well thought out but they are obviously meant to be more than a sop to the locals. The city has recently revived plans for a boulevard linking the Park with down-town, and the Parks Board is in the middle of a feasibility study on ways to use the area the other 11 months of the year. “In the 1975 bond program, we couldn’t get a cent for Fair Park improvements,” says Sid Stahl, “so you could say things are looking up.”

Nobody is claiming that Fair Park is upthere with the new sports arena on Mayor Folsom’s list of priorities, but it’s probably moved from the debit to the creditside of the ledger. “We have to think ofall our discussions in terms of possibilitiesrather than problems,” says GeorgeSchrader. “The Carr-Lynch Report isnot an ultimatum. It simply outlines whatthe city can do if it wants to. A lot depends on the kinds of proposals we getfrom the arts organizations and how wellthey lobby for them.” Just as much depends on how intelligently they compromise.



get a cent for Fair Park improvements,” says Sid Stahl, “so you could say things are looking up.”

Nobody is claiming that Fair Park is upthere with the new sports arena on Mayor Folsom’s list of priorities, but it’s probably moved from the debit to the creditside of the ledger. “We have to think ofall our discussions in terms of possibilitiesrather than problems,” says GeorgeSchrader. “The Carr-Lynch Report isnot an ultimatum. It simply outlines whatthe city can do if it wants to. A lot depends on the kinds of proposals we getfrom the arts organizations and how wellthey lobby for them.” Just as much depends on how intelligently they compromise.

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