Guest blogger Danielle Marie Georgiou is a Dance Lecturer at the University of Texas at Arlington where she serves as the Assistant Director of the UT Arlington’s Dance Ensemble. She is also a member of Muscle Memory Dance Theatre – a modern dance collective. Danielle is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Arts and Humanities at UT Dallas, and her first book, The Politics of State Public Arts Funding, is out now.
With Arts Advocacy Day coming up (August 20 to be exact), and the budget cuts crossing county lines and heating up in the papers, here’s a little reminder about what the city of Dallas is trying to do to the Office of Cultural Affairs and what you can do to help.
Nearly 20 years ago, Dallas arts organizations won a political struggle to establish the Office of Cultural Affairs (OCA) and a Cultural Affairs Council. Since then, the department has continued to evolve and improve the quality of life in the city. Literally thousands of jobs for artists, administrators and technicians have been added over the years, and despite the recent recession, the artistic corps of Dallas has never been stronger. Case in point, the construction of the Dallas Center for Performing Arts (DCPA).
But now the City Council wants to absorb the OCA into the Libraries Department, thus reducing the transparency and public visibility of the organization. Supporters of the move claim that nothing will change, that the move won’t hurt the opening of the DCPA or scare private donors away. But what message are we sending when we are opening a multi-million facility while hiding our cultural affairs office? Do we really want to become a premier cultural center?
Yes, we do. If OCA is to remain an independent arts agency and if Dallas wants to be an active competitor in the arts, everyone needs to help.
The following are recommendations from the Dallas Area Cultural Advocacy Coalition (DACAC) for how you can get involved:
- Attend several Budget Town Hall meetings and urge your friends to also attend one or more meetings. You can attend any of the meetings, not just those in your district. Make sure to voice your opinion at the meetings focusing on an independent Office of Cultural Affairs.
- Fill out the City’s questionnaire and make support for Arts and Culture your No. 1 priority.
- Write or e-mail the mayor and Dallas City Council. And ask your friends to do so as well.
- Place special emphasis on your council member. They will pay special attention to their constituents.
The budget will be approved on Sept. 23. Don’t let that date roll around without doing something.