By a unanimous vote, the Dallas City Council approved a new Cultural Plan today – the first the city’s had since 2002. After 16 months of neighborhood meetings, hiring consultants and surveying artists and arts groups, the Office of Cultural Affairs presented a 112-page draft to the council. It proposes such strategies as finding private sources of funding to remedy issues created by Dallas’ deferred maintenance of its cultural centers as well as developing artist residencies with area schools. It even suggests the city improve the quality of life for local artists by trying to find a group healthcare plan or co-op for them.
Kenneth Novice, president of Dallas Summer Musicals, Charles Santos of TITAS Presents and Joshua King, co-founder of the AURORA festival, all spoke before the vote. They encouraged council members to support it, emphasizing not only its benefits but the enthusiastic input and hard work from community members that it took to shape the final proposal and usher it through the council’s Arts & Cultural Advisory Committee.
The only hiccup came when Councilmember Philip Kingston, who represents District 14, offered a “friendly amendment” that some of the plan’s wording be corrected. The Arts & Cultural Advisory Committee, for example, was regularly referred to by its older title, the Cultural Affairs Committee. In the end, 8 of the 13 council members spoke in favor of the plan, praising Councilmember Sandy Greyson (District 12) for her work as chair of the committee. In particular, they all hailed the plan for emphasizing arts support for different ethnic and minority groups – and in neighborhoods outside the downtown Arts District.
Omar Narvaez, who represents District 6, which includes West Dallas, was typical in saying, “The thing that I like the most about this plan is the attention to diversity and inclusion. This is paramount for the city that we understand that our city’s changing. It changed a while ago, and we just haven’t caught up.”
You can read the draft plan here.