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The New Oak Cliff Cultural Center Opens
by Jerome Weeks 12 Aug 2010

Dallas’ cultural funding may be facing a 17 percent cut, but with 2003 bond election money, the city is opening the new Oak Cliff Cultural Center — right next to the Texas Theatre on W. Jefferson Blvd. How the city is going to operate it is another matter.


Mary Suhm, the city manager of Dallas, proposed a number of budget cuts earlier this week, including a 17-percent reduction in cultural funding. But that’s for next fiscal year. KERA’s Jerome Weeks reports that the city will still open a new cultural center in Oak Cliff — as planned.

KERA radio report:

Expanded online report:

The city of Dallas operated the Ice House Cultural Center in Oak Cliff for a decade. There was increasing demand during that time for the facility’s gallery and studio spaces. But the Ice House is a rented facility, which limited what could be done with it. So the city closed its operations there last fall.

Gary Sanchez is the cultural programs coordinator for the Office of Cultural Affairs.

Sanchez: “Because of the success of the Ice House, the city recognized that this part of Dallas needed a permanent cultural center, owned and operated by the City of Dallas. Jefferson Boulevard is a very, very active corridor. It’s sort of the heart of Oak Cliff, and we think it’s just a perfect location for it.”

The city built the new Oak Cliff Cultural Center with $1.5 million from the 2003 bond election. The money went to purchase and renovate a 5000–square foot storefront at 223 West Jefferson Boulevard, a former furniture rental store not far from the Ice House. The gallery in the new Cultural Center opens tonight with “Perspectives from the Cliff,” an exhibition of works by 17 Oak Cliff artists. There’s also a dance studio and a meeting room. But unlike the city’s Latino, Bath House and South Dallas cultural centers, the Oak Cliff center does not have room for a theater or auditorium.

Sanchez: “However, we are located right next door to the Texas Theatre. And we’re hoping to do some programming with them in the future.”

While bond money paid for the new center, operating it depends on the city budget. The new venue will open only 10 hours a week. And Sanchez will be the only staff person. But the city’s new budget does propose adding a second staff member and expanding the center’s schedule to 25 hours a week. If those proposed additions pass the City Council, they’ll begin in October.

The Oak Cliff Cultural Center’s grand opening is Sunday. The full release follows:

The City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs proudly announces the grand opening of the Oak Cliff Cultural Center, located at 223 West Jefferson Boulevard, Dallas, Texas 75208, and will mark the event with a dedication ceremony on Thursday, August 12, 2010 and a community open house and street fair on Sunday, August 15, 2010.

The dedication ceremony for the new center will be held on Thursday, August 12, 2010 at 11:30 AM, and will be hosted by the Office of Cultural Affairs Director and the Cultural Affairs Commission. Council Member Delia Jasso and City officials will dedicate the new facility and will unveil the Cultural Center’s inaugural art exhibition, Perspectives from the Cliff: Recent Work by Oak Cliff Artists. This juried exhibition features 25 artworks by 17 artists who live or work in Oak Cliff: Sal Barron, Chris Bingham, Carrie Cook, Christa Diepenbrock, Bryan Steven Gooding, Cynthia Garrison, Keirston Jacobs, Santiago Lopez III, Cynthia Maute, Wendy Medling, Brent Mitchell, Lyndon Ardell Mitchell, Terri Neal, Kenda North, Larry Pile, Sam Theis and Jessica Trevizo. Serving as jurors were Dallas artists Tina Aguilar and Charley Mitcherson.

On Sunday, August 15, 2010, from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m., the community is invited to an open house and street fair to celebrate the new center. The 200 block of Jefferson Boulevard will be closed for a street fair, which will feature three musical acts on stage, face painting, booths offering information on City services, the Dallas Public Library’s Bookmobile, and more. Inside the center, activities will include artist talks in the gallery and dance demonstrations in the studio by Alegre Ballet Folklórico. More information on these events can be found at www.dallasculture.org/occc.

“We are thrilled with our new space in Oak Cliff, in the midst of the vibrant commercial district of Jefferson Boulevard,” notes Maria Muñoz-Blanco, director of the Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs. “The Oak Cliff Cultural Center will serve as a family-oriented arts venue, bringing a variety of dance classes, arts workshops and exhibitions that showcase the diversity and creativity of Oak Cliff.”