- KERA radio story:
- Expanded online story:
It looks as though all the hard work at the Dallas Center for the Performing Arts has been done:
$334 million have been raised for the center. The Winspear Opera House and the Wyly Theater are well on their way to opening in October. Bill Lively, who raised all that money as president of the center, has gone on to running the host committee for the Super Bowl in 2011.
But the center’s new president, Mark Nerenhausen (above), says the real work has just started. It’s not simply to fill those performance halls. It’s to connect them to North Texas arts goers, and to serve the local arts groups, big and small, that will be using them.
NERENHAUSEN: “This really is a community enterprise. What attracted me here was the strong message I got that this center matters to the community at large.”
In fact, Nerenhausen cautions that it usually takes a performing arts center three or four years before it balances its budget and finds its audience in an area. The good news is that it can expand that audience. Nerenhausen, for example, believes that both the Performing Arts Center and the Dallas Summer Musicals can successfully bring Broadway tours to Dallas.
NERENHAUSEN: “The south Florida market has three Broadway touring presenters, and that’s a metro area that has a million fewer people than here.”
Nerenhausen comes to Texas from Fort Lauderdale, where he ran the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. Growing up, he lived in a small Wisconsin town. From high school through college, he helped fix up an old red barn and ran what became a treasured community arts center.
NERENHAUSEN: “It’s so easy for that concept of building the community through the arts to be a platitude because we have these great buildings. So again, for me, it still comes down to just trying to build the red barn. I’ve just got a bigger red barn now.”