A collective of 29 Dallas nonprofit cultural groups — theaters, museums, symphonies, dance troupes, performance venues — is issuing a series of social media videos meant to encourage, even to urge, audiences to return in person to performances and exhibitions.
The group effort, called We Are Dallas Arts, was spearheaded by Lily Weiss, executive director of the Dallas Arts District. The videos are meant to convey the whole range of offerings, settings and organizations currently open and available — including Klyde Warren Park, Bandan Koro African Drum and Dance Ensemble, Dallas Summer Musicals and the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum. The message: “Engage with the magic that is art. We are Dallas arts. Everybody is welcome. Let your spirit soar.”
The videos send viewers to www.WeAreDallasArts.org and the Culture Calendar, a comprehensive listing of upcoming programs and events presented by the Dallas nonprofit arts community. The calendar is compiled from KERA’s Art&Seek calendar and managed by the AT&T Performing Arts Center. The English-language videos are voiced by Dallas Theater Center acting ensemble member Liz Mikel and the Spanish-language videos are voiced by Theatre Three associate artistic director Christie Vela.
The entire campaign is a sign of how slowly people are returning to visiting museums in person and seeing live performances – or Hollywood films. And with inflation – ticket prices inevitably going up, the difficulty in finding and hiring the right, experienced people – audiences are trickling back but are nowhere near pre-COVID levels.
Yet this is not the first time a large number of Dallas-area arts groups joined together to take public, collective action in the face of the pandemic. In July 2020, 51 organizations — including most of the 29 involved with We Are Dallas Arts — established a list of safety protocols they would all follow and guidelines that needed to be met before re-opening to the public. The intention was to simplify audience expectations and address audience concerns across the board from face masks and timed entrances to “low-touch” environments.
As with We Are Dallas Arts, the effort was initiated by Lily Weiss.
The full press release:
We Are Dallas Arts Initiative
Welcomes Audiences Back
29 Dallas Groups Collaborate to Proclaim the Arts are Back!
(DALLAS) Arts and culture are back in Dallas! And the city’s diverse arts community has launched an initiative, We Are Dallas Arts, urging audiences and patrons to return and again enjoy live, in-person cultural experiences.
“We all took a serious hit during the pandemic when our venues and spaces closed and audiences stayed home,” said Lily Weiss, executive director of the Dallas Arts District who helped spearhead the effort. “But now, with the holidays ahead and safety protocols in place, people are ready and eager to return, and we want everyone to know – we’re open and ready to welcome them back!”
In this unprecedented collaboration, twenty-nine nonprofit organizations joined forces to create three We Are Dallas Arts video spots for social media and broadcast. The 15-, 30-, and 60-second spots reflect the wide range of artists, genres, art forms and venues in the diverse and vibrant Dallas cultural community. Organizers say it is unique, pioneering, and forward-thinking in its inclusivity of Dallas.
“This is a natural outgrowth of the tremendous cooperation between our groups throughout the pandemic,” said Weiss. “Individually, most of our organizations would not have the resources to do this alone. But together, we realized we could make a strong statement about our community – that Dallas culture is back – and these spots will help spread the word!”
The spots will be shared through social media channels and by participating broadcast media. They refer viewers to www.WeAreDallasArts.org and the Culture Calendar, a comprehensive listing of upcoming programs and events presented by the Dallas nonprofit arts community. The calendar is powered by KERA’s Art&Seek and managed by the AT&T Performing Arts Center. The high-energy spots include video and photography of local arts groups. Two veteran Dallas actresses provided the voiceover work. Liz Mikel recorded the English version and Christie Vela the Spanish version. A task force of community arts leaders worked with a media firm to create this campaign in less than a month.
During the pandemic, the arts community collaborated to create comprehensive Covid-19 safety protocols for reopening. They cooperated on surveys to track the devastating impact of the pandemic: $95M in economic losses, more than 1,000 jobs lost, and three million in lost attendance. They collaborated to advocate for government financial resources. They even worked together to find the best prices on things like air filters, hand sanitizer, and masks. The community credits its survival to funding support from patrons; city, state and federal government; private, corporate, and foundation philanthropy; and the community’s willingness to work together.
“This ‘can do’ spirit and the collaborative support of each other is why the Dallas arts community has survived these last 20 months,” said Weiss. “And with one voice, we are saying, the arts are back – come out and let your spirit soar!”
Participating Cultural Arts Organizations:
1. Anita N. Martinez Ballet Folklorico
2. AT&T Performing Arts Center
3. Bandan Koro African Drum and Dance Ensemble
4. Bishop Arts Theatre Center
5. Bruce Wood Dance
6. Crow Museum of Asian Art – University of Texas at Dallas
7. Dallas Arts District
8. Dallas Black Dance Theatre
9. Dallas Chamber Symphony
10. Dallas Museum of Art
11. Dallas Summer Musicals
12. Dallas Symphony Orchestra
13. Dallas Theater Center
14. Dallas Winds
15. Fine Arts Chamber Players
16. Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra
17. Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum
18. Klyde Warren Park
19. Nasher Sculpture Center
20. Perot Museum of Nature & Science
21. Sammons Center for the Arts
22. Shakespeare Dallas
23. Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza
24. Teatro Dallas
25. Texas Ballet Theater
26. Theatre 3
27. TITAS | DANCE UNBOUND
28. Turtle Creek Chorale
29. Visit Dallas