UNHAPPY ALL AROUND: The Dallas Morning News looked into the Dallas arts community’s dissatisfaction with the proposed merging of the Library Department and the Office of Cultural Affairs in a front-page story on Sunday. (I discussed the move and other budget-related items in this post on Friday.) Phillip Jones, head of the Dallas Conventions and Visitors Bureau, makes an interesting point in the story. One of the rallying cries for those opposing the move is the questionable timing of lowering the OCA’s profile as the Dallas Center for the Performing Arts opens its doors this fall. Jones doesn’t see the move having much of an effect on the DCPA. “My perception and perspective is that the Office of Cultural Affairs is very focused on the smaller arts organizations and not so much on the big-ticket events and items.” In other words, the DCPA will be fine. To borrow a recent news term, it’s “too big to fail.” The question, though, is how much support will smaller arts groups receive without a free-standing OCA? The Dallas Area Cultural Advocacy Coalition has put together a useful page with the list of all the scheduled town-hall meetings to discuss the new city budget proposal, talking points about OCA and the economic impact of the arts, the city’s cultural affairs commission, plus resgistration for Arts Advocacy Day Aug. 20 at the Wyly Theatre.
THE BIGGER PICTURE: It’s pretty easy to draw a correlation between the plight of the OCA and the struggle the National Endowment for the Arts is facing to return to prominence. The NEA’s current appropration is about $20 million less than it was in 1992. Its new chief, Rocco Landesman, is, of course, working to change that. He tells The New York Times, “We need to have a seat at the big table with the grown-ups. Art should be part of the plans to come out of this recession.” Sounds like an argument we’ve been hearing around here of late.
STARTING SMALL: This weekend, Arts Fifth Avenue in Fort Worth presents this year’s edition of SceneShop. If you are unfamiliar with SceneShop, the idea is to present a collection of short scenes, monologues and staged readings. And the event’s founders tell Fort Worth Weekly that the short format was born out of necessity. When the show was conceived in 1996, the idea was to allow its founders to regularly perform while holding down day jobs. Shorter scenes equal shorter rehearsal time. Expect the performers to bring the funny at this year’s show, titled You Gotta Laugh.