Marilyn Morris says she isn’t an artist, but she knows about art. She gives the Dallas Independent School District the credit for that. She took art classes when she was in elementary school during the Sixties, and she’s glad she did because these days, she says, math and science programs have accelerated and art has taken a back seat in education.
She thinks that fact puts the community in a real predicament: “Dallas is now spending millions of dollars on an art museum and the arts district. But in 20 years, who will be their patrons? Who will be raising funds and licking stamps?” Well, Morris has 15 people in mind: the students in her cultural arts program.
Four years ago, Morris opened The Magic Door, a company that specializes in self-improvement. As a former schoolteacher and model, she found that courses in personal appearance, exercise and poise were in demand for junior high and high school students. She’s since instructed more than 2,000 students in self-improvement courses. This fall, she’s teaching Cultural Arts, an in-depth grab bag of finishing-school lessons.
These students, she says, receive cultural edification through trips to the Dallas and Richardson symphonies as well as from several musicals, ballets, gallery tours and theater productions. And they will also attend lectures and demonstrations on various art forms. Morris also will teach them personal-improvement lessons in hair and skin care, makeup and nutrition.
Morris graduated from Baylor University in 1976 with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. She taught in the Richardson Independent School District for three years but says that when she saw her first paycheck, she knew she would need supplemental income.
At that time, her friend, Sarah Norton, was opening a modeling agency, and Morris began moonlighting as a model. When Morris’ two careers conflicted, she quit teaching and opened The Magic Door. In the beginning, Morris gave in-home demonstrations on makeup and hair care to some of her ex-students. In those days, whoever gave the party received the lessons for free; the others had to pay $15.
Morris has come a long way from those in-home demonstrations. She now has a large studio and charges considerably more: The fee for the cultural arts program is $750 per person.
Morris says that her students come from all areas of the city and that word of mouth has been The Magic Door’s best marketing tool. Mothers of students in various programs tell other mothers; students tell other students.
The result: a number of poised, well-rounded young ladies and one very happy teacher.
“The worst thing in the world for me,” says Fred Meyer, “is a Sunday afternoon without anything to do. I want to be busy.” That’s lucky for all those who enlist the services of Fred Meyer-he never quits. The latest recruiter of the chairman of the Dallas County Republican Party and the president of Tyler Corp. is the City of Dallas. Fred Meyer is the chairman of the Host Committee for the 1984 Republican National Convention, and so far, he’s going at the project full-throttle.
Although the convention is still months away, Meyer is busy. He has scheduled meetings with the heads of the 16 different host committees. On this particular day, he has meetings at 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 4 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. The purpose of the meetings, says Meyer, “is to encourage them [the committee leaders] and get them started.” After this initial set of meetings, there will be several more sets before the convention begins. “You’ve got to go a long way to get 20,000 volunteers going. It’s gonna take a lot of work. You need computer workers, operators and programmers. There are newsletters to be sent to the delegates and volunteers. There are VIPs to take care of. I want to have 48 hours’ worth of things planned for every 24 hours those delegates are here. They’ve got to get the feeling for the real Dallas.”
Meyer says that he has convention meetings spread across every week and spends a “fair number of nights doing phone work.” But if you think that all this planning will make it easy for him to sit back and relax during the convention-think again. “When you have a party at your house,” Meyer says, “you don’t have nearly as much fun as you do at a party at your neighbor’s house. The big difference is that you get your satisfaction later. We in Dallas will have to get our satisfaction from doing well.”
Will Meyer slow down after the convention? Hardly. Meyer, host committee chairman, will then become Meyer, county party chairman, and with the presidential election right around the corner, there won’t be time to slow down in between.
Ask Anne Hall any question imaginable about leg-hold traps and she can rattle off one of the most authoritative responses possible. At first glance, this dubious talent may not seem too impressive. It is, however, testimony to her drive and ability to completely submerge herself in an issue-whatever it may be. Anne Hall is a mover.
Leg-hold traps (devices that trap foraging animals) used to be a primary business concern for Hall. At the time, she was living in Ohio and working on a referendum for the Ohioans for Wildlife Conservation in an effort to keep the state from banning the use of such traps. Some people claimed that the use of these traps was inhumane; but Hall and the members of her organization believed that the traps were necessary for the state’s farmers. In the end, the Ohioans for Wildlife Conservation won the referendum in 86 of the state’s 88 counties. Chalk one up for Anne Hall.
Although the executives at Warner Amex Corp. cared little about leg-hold traps, they did care about winning the battle for the Dallas cable-television franchise. Hall, who had grown up in a political atmosphere (her rather had been a justice of the peace, a city solicitor, a mayor, a U.S. district attorney and a congressman) was known for her savvy in dealing with sticky issues. When she was only 19, she had already gained a reputation as the one person who could ask for campaign contributions-delicately and not so delicately-while working on the reelection campaign of Ohio Gov. John J. Gilli-gan. Warner Amex wanted her on its side.
Hall took the job for Warner Amex in July 1979 and moved to Dallas. The rest is history: After a long battle, Warner Amex won the franchise, and Anne Hall has been trouble-shooting for the company ever since.
But it’s time for a change for Hall. She recently left the Dallas franchise; on September 1, she opened Anne Hall and Co., a public-affairs firm. Hall says there’s a big difference between public affairs and public relations. The former, she says, is a specialty of the latter. In short, public affairs is troubleshooting.
Hall believes that public affairs is an emerging field in Dallas because the business environment is becoming more diverse. Like it or not, she says, corporations must deal with non-business entities, namely, the public sector. A public-affairs specialist is needed, for example, when a corporation is developing property in an area in which neighborhood groups are apprehensive about the project. The specialist steps in and mediates. “Many companies are desperately-and perhaps not successfully-trying to deal with the community,” she says. “They’re being dragged, kicking and screaming, out of the board room. But to complain or ignore dealing with the public is useless. It is a tact of corporate life.”
So far, Anne Hall and Co. is composed of Hall and an answering service. Her first account is Warner Amex in New York, the parent company of the local franchise. (Hall has agreed to continue working for the Dallas franchise until her replacement and the replacement for the local president, who also left Warner Amex, have settled into their new jobs.) Hall says she is pitching her services to a number of area corporations but wants to be careful about which accounts she accepts.