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The Big Week Begins


by Jerome Weeks 12 Oct 2009

The eyes of the arts world are on Dallas this week as a 30-year-old dream for the downtown Dallas Arts District comes true. Downtown will be basking in accolades during dedication ceremonies this morning.

CTA TBD

smaller lobbyKERA’s BJ Austin reports on the dedication of the AT&T Performing Arts Center this week.

  • KERA radio story:
  • Expanded online story:

The eyes of the arts world are on Dallas this week as a 30-year-old dream for the downtown Dallas Arts District comes true.  The district will be basking in accolades during dedication ceremonies this morning.

After days and days of rain, workers had to scrape mud off Flora Street in the center of the Arts District to get it ready for opening week. Dallas is touting its 68-acre downtown Arts District as the largest in the world with the opening of the Winspear Opera House, the Wyly Theatre and the renovated Annette Strauss Artists’ Square, for outdoor performances.  The City Performance Hall is to be completed next year.

AT&T Performing Arts Center CEO Mark Nerenhausen says people are taking notice.

Nerenhausen:  “You know there’s a full page story in the New York Times about the curtain in the theatre; not the buildings, just the curtain alone.  That really says something when the New York Times writes a full page story about the curtain in the Opera House.

Tickets for early performances are going fast. Arts District Executive Director Veletta Forsythe Lill says the Arts District will redefine the arts in Dallas and Dallas in the cultural world.

Lill:  “There’s so much energy right now.  I feel the arts scene in Dallas accelerating. You’re seeing literally all of these changes come alive at one time.”

Phillip Jones, President/CEO of the Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau is just back from trips to New York, Washington DC and San Francisco. He says everyone was talking about the new venues designed by world-renowned architects. Jones says this is a game-changer for the city.

Jones:  “Dallas is well known as a sports town. We’ve never been known, per se, for arts and culture. The performance venues that are coming on line will round out the product from the arts the cultural perspective; but also conventions and meetings. We have the most unique and some of the most beautiful buildings available in the country today for private parties and events. And I think that’s going to give us a competitive edge.”

Mark Nerenhausen says it’s impossible to put a dollar figure on anticipated economic impact. But he says thriving arts districts have transformed other cities in many ways. He expects Dallas to draw top artists, national and international tourists, and invigorate the arts citywide.

For more information on the Arts District happenings or for more background and videos on the individual buildings, check out our new micro-site dedicated to the district.

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