News and Features

Dallas Arts Budget Cuts: Part II

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Categorized Under: Arts Funding or Budgets

Just moments ago, we posted a commentary from KERA commentator Lee Cullum, in which she worries aloud about potential cuts to arts and culture programs from the City of Dallas. KERA’s BJ Austin is also on the story; she filed this report this morning:

July is a vacation month for Dallas city council members, but in the City Manager’s office, it’s all hands on deck. They’re crafting a final “balanced” budget that will require deep cuts.

Employees in the Cultural Affairs department are waiting for the axe to fall – again. A 45 percent overall cut is anticipated. Grants for arts programs, as well as money for utilities at the new venues in the AT&T Performing Arts Center, are on the cut-list.

Christopher Head has worked in Cultural Affairs for 12 years.

Head: “We were 14 staff members. Now we’re down to eight. We hardly have any of the strength that we used to have. One of the things that’s been saving us has been retention. Unfortunately, that’s starting to fragment as well because basically everybody’s seen the writing on the wall and they’re all trying to leave the ship as it sinks.”

Before the council break, the City Manager had the budget deficit whittled down to $35 million. The final budget proposal will be presented to the City Council August 9.

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Cuts to Dallas Arts Budget Leave Some for Dead

Next fiscal year’s budget for Dallas is still weeks away from approval. But KERA commentator Lee Cullum doesn’t like what she’s seen and heard so far in the spending plan for arts and culture:

Click the audio player to listen to the commentary:

Online version:

Our summer battle for the Good, the True and the Beautiful has begun again. Or the Bad and the Ugly, the Naked and the Dead, however you like your art. It’s budget season at City Hall, and culture, whether high, low or middle-brow, has seldom been so threatened. City Manager Mary Suhm has done a heroic job of paring the predicted shortfall from $130 million to $35 million with painful measures like furlough days for firefighters and police.

But she is not leaving them without hope. In mid-May, city staff presented a five-year plan to restore lost funding not only to the police and fire departments but also to the zoo; parks and recreation and the library, which is partially redeemed in the latest Suhm proposal; plus mid-level maintenance for streets, also now slated for renewal.

However, Veletta Lill, former Council member and now our number one guardian of culture as head of Dallas Arts District, was quick to note that nothing was mentioned in that report about the arts. It’s as if the city is ready to renounce 40 years of active support of performance in Dallas and a commitment to cultural facilities reaching back much farther than that.

The axing of the arts this year will be dramatic, drastic and in some cases fatal. Veletta Lill pointed out the extent of the carnage: Cuts in cultural services grants are budgeted at 73 percent; neighborhood touring programs, 100 percent; conservation of public art, 100 percent; the AT&T Center for the Performing Arts, 95 percent.

In happier days, before the opening of the Winspear Opera House and the Wyly Theatre, the AT&T Center had a contract with the city for $2.5 million a year for maintenance. That was reduced to $800,000 for 2009 and an equal amount this year, none of which has been paid. Maria Munoz-Blanco, head of the Office of Cultural Affairs, said these funds would be forthcoming once the Annette Strauss Artists’ Square opens in the fall. As for 2011, all that these spectacular assets can expect from the city is $200,000, a staggering shortfall from the original agreement.

“Let them eat the proceeds from Moby Dick,” the Dallas Opera’s enormously successful world premier, will be the rallying cry for cost-cutters. Perhaps patrons will indeed make up the difference, though it will be a stretch in this economy. But who will salvage the Lone Star Wind Orchestra, the Orpheus Chamber Singers, the Allegro Guitar Society or the Asian Film group or the Holocaust Museum when they falter, deprived of the certifying city funding that helps attract matching grants from foundations? It will be a case of a thousand graces gone, or seriously diminished.

Maria Munoz-Blanco declared a “new paradigm” for the arts at City Hall, a paradigm based on “less money.” The Meyerson Symphony Center, which she oversees, might deploy volunteer ushers, she said, and charge presentation fees to groups that use the facility. That certainly is a brave and necessary way of muddling through. But it is not the plan for the future that Veletta Lill and Councilwoman Ann Margolin believe we must have. They are right. The arts bring magic to a city, and make that city sing, and prosper. If you don’t have the magic, you don’t have anything.

Lee Cullum hosts the monthly program C.E.O. on KERA 13. Her conversation with Bob Best, CEO of Atmos Energy, airs July 30.

Next fiscal year’s budget for Dallas is still weeks away from approval. But commentator Lee Cullum doesn’t like what she’s seen and heard so far in the spending plan for arts and culture.

Our summer battle for the Good, the True and the Beautiful has begun again. Or the Bad and the Ugly, the Naked and the Dead, however you like your art. It’s budget season at City Hall, and culture, whether high, low or middle-brow, has seldom been so threatened. The manager, Mary Suhm, has done a heroic job of paring the predicted shortfall from $130 million to $35 million with painful measures like furlough days for firefighters and police.

But she is not leaving them without hope. In mid-May, city staff presented a five-year plan to restore lost funding not only to the police and fire departments, but also to the zoo; parks and recreation and the library, which is partially redeemed in the latest Suhm proposal; plus mid-level maintenance for streets, also now slated for renewal.

However, Veletta Lill, former Council member and now our number one guardian of culture as head of Dallas Arts District, was quick to note that nothing was mentioned in that report about the arts. It’s as if the city is ready to renounce 40 years of active support of performance in Dallas and a commitment to cultural facilities reaching back much farther than that.

The axing of the arts this year will be dramatic, drastic and in some cases fatal. Veletta Lill pointed out the extent of the carnage: Cuts in cultural services grants are budgeted at 73 percent; neighborhood touring programs, 100 percent; conservation of public art, 100 percent; the AT&T Center for the Performing Arts, 95 percent.

In happier days, before the opening of the Winspear Opera House and the Wyly Theatre, the AT&T Center had a contract with the city for $2.5 million a year for maintenance. That was reduced to $800,000 for 2009 and an equal amount this year, none of which has been paid. Maria Munoz-Blanco, head of the Office of Cultural Affairs, said these funds would be forthcoming once the Annette Strauss Artists’ Square opens in the fall. As for 2011, all that these spectacular assets can expect from the city is $200,000, a staggering shortfall from the original agreement.

“Let them eat the proceeds from Moby Dick,” the Dallas Opera’s enormously successful world premier, will be the rallying cry for cost-cutters. Perhaps patrons will indeed make up the difference, though it will be a stretch in this economy. But who will salvage the Lone Star Wind Orchestra, the Orpheus Chamber Singers, the Allegro Guitar Society or the Asian Film group or the Holocaust Museum when they falter, deprived of the certifying city funding that helps attract matching grants from foundations? It will be a case of a thousand graces gone, or seriously diminished.

Maria Munoz-Blanco declared a “new paradigm” for the arts at City Hall, a paradigm based on “less money.” The Meyerson Symphony Center, which she oversees, might deploy volunteer ushers, she said, and charge presentation fees to groups that use the facility. That certainly is a brave and necessary way of muddling through. But it is not the plan for the future that Veletta Lill and Councilwoman Ann Margolin believe we must have. They are right. The arts bring magic to a city, and make that city sing, and prosper. If you don’t have the magic, you don’t have anything.

Lee Cullum hosts the monthly program C.E.O. on KERA 13. Her conversation with Bob Best, CEO of Atmos Energy, airs July 30

Next fiscal year’s budget for Dallas is still weeks away from approval. But commentator Lee Cullum doesn’t like what she’s seen and heard so far in the spending plan for arts and culture.

Our summer battle for the Good, the True and the Beautiful has begun again. Or the Bad and the Ugly, the Naked and the Dead, however you like your art. It’s budget season at City Hall, and culture, whether high, low or middle-brow, has seldom been so threatened. The manager, Mary Suhm, has done a heroic job of paring the predicted shortfall from $130 million to $35 million with painful measures like furlough days for firefighters and police.

But she is not leaving them without hope. In mid-May, city staff presented a five-year plan to restore lost funding not only to the police and fire departments, but also to the zoo; parks and recreation and the library, which is partially redeemed in the latest Suhm proposal; plus mid-level maintenance for streets, also now slated for renewal.

However, Veletta Lill, former Council member and now our number one guardian of culture as head of Dallas Arts District, was quick to note that nothing was mentioned in that report about the arts. It’s as if the city is ready to renounce 40 years of active support of performance in Dallas and a commitment to cultural facilities reaching back much farther than that.

The axing of the arts this year will be dramatic, drastic and in some cases fatal. Veletta Lill pointed out the extent of the carnage: Cuts in cultural services grants are budgeted at 73 percent; neighborhood touring programs, 100 percent; conservation of public art, 100 percent; the AT&T Center for the Performing Arts, 95 percent.

In happier days, before the opening of the Winspear Opera House and the Wyly Theatre, the AT&T Center had a contract with the city for $2.5 million a year for maintenance. That was reduced to $800,000 for 2009 and an equal amount this year, none of which has been paid. Maria Munoz-Blanco, head of the Office of Cultural Affairs, said these funds would be forthcoming once the Annette Strauss Artists’ Square opens in the fall. As for 2011, all that these spectacular assets can expect from the city is $200,000, a staggering shortfall from the original agreement.

“Let them eat the proceeds from Moby Dick,” the Dallas Opera’s enormously successful world premier, will be the rallying cry for cost-cutters. Perhaps patrons will indeed make up the difference, though it will be a stretch in this economy. But who will salvage the Lone Star Wind Orchestra, the Orpheus Chamber Singers, the Allegro Guitar Society or the Asian Film group or the Holocaust Museum when they falter, deprived of the certifying city funding that helps attract matching grants from foundations? It will be a case of a thousand graces gone, or seriously diminished.

Maria Munoz-Blanco declared a “new paradigm” for the arts at City Hall, a paradigm based on “less money.” The Meyerson Symphony Center, which she oversees, might deploy volunteer ushers, she said, and charge presentation fees to groups that use the facility. That certainly is a brave and necessary way of muddling through. But it is not the plan for the future that Veletta Lill and Councilwoman Ann Margolin believe we must have. They are right. The arts bring magic to a city, and make that city sing, and prosper. If you don’t have the magic, you don’t have anything.

Lee Cullum hosts the monthly program C.E.O. on KERA 13. Her conversation with Bob Best, CEO of Atmos Energy, airs July 30..

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Dallas Contemporary Names New Exec Director

Dallas Contemporary is going international. Replacing the previous director, Joan Davidow, who led the artspace into its new warehouse home near the Design District, will be Peter Doroshenko. He is the recent artistic director of the Pinchuk Art Centre in Kiev — which is dedicated to the “contemporary art of the 21st century” aimed at “the dynamic interlacing of new production, presentation, and collection bridging national identity and international challenge.”

Doroshenko is a curator with international connections and experience. But despite the Kiev link and his Ukranian name (twice, he was the commissioner for the Ukranian Pavillion at the Venice Biennale), Doroshenko was actually born in Chicago. Before heading up the Pinchuk, Doroshenko ran the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in England. And he has had experience in Texas: He’s worked at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston as well as lecturing at the Glassell School of Art there.

Here’s the full press release:

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Wednesday Morning Roundup

THE RENAISSANCE MAN: You may know Mathew Bourbon from a number of ways. He’s an Associate Professor of Art at the University of North Texas. He’s been a commentator for KERA (he most recently reviewed the William Kentridge show at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth). And he’s also a successful artist in his own right. His current one-man show, “Matthew Bourbon: Our Splendid Defeat,” is up at the Rudolph Blume Fine Art/ArtScan Gallery in Houston. And it caught Glasstire’s attention. “Bourbon plays with both formal tensions and narrative, infusing each with the other to create work that is intriguing and complex,” Garland Fielder writes in his review.

MUSIC BITS: A few Dallas Observer Music Awards nominees have come up with a bright idea – cover songs by other nominees. It gets your name out there without seeming too vote-hungry. Up first is Air Review playing Ishi. (DC9 at Night) … Mates of State is in town tonight at the Granada. Jason Hammel talks about playing in a band with his wife, Kori. (Front Row). Speaking of Mates of State, we’ve got a couple of pairs of tickets to tonight’s show if you’d like to go last minute-style. E-mail me ([email protected]) and their yours.

RAINY DAYS: Rain is in the forecast for each of the next several days. (Not that I’m complaining.) And that’s a rarity for July. The Amon Carter blog has taken note of the meteorological phenomenon by posting photos of some rain-soaked works from the collection.

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Flickr Photo of the Week

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Categorized Under: Visual Arts

Congratulations to  Jon Breazeale of Richardson, the winner of the Flickr Photo of the Week contest! This is Jon’s first victorY in our contest. He follows last week’s winner, Teresa Rafidi.

If you would like to participate in the Flickr Photo of the Week contest, all you need to do is upload your photo to to our Flickr group page. It’s fine to submit a photo you took previous to the current week, but we are hoping that the contest will inspire you to go out and shoot something fantastic this week to share with Art&Seek users. If the picture you take involves a facet of the arts, even better. The contest week will run from Monday to Sunday, and the Art&Seek staff will pick a winner on Monday afternoon. We’ll notify the winner through FlickrMail (so be sure to check those inboxes) and ask you to fill out a short survey to tell us a little more about yourself and the photo you took. We’ll post the winners’ photo on Wednesday.

Now here’s a bit more from Jon:

Jon Breazeale

Title of photo: Island of the Mist

Equipment: Canon  EOS 350D

Tell us more about your photo: This was taken at Kimball Bend State Park on the Brazos River. There was a nice fog over the river at the time. The friend I was with, also a photographer, just had to stop and get some shots.

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Asian Film Festival of Dallas Announces Complete Lineup

Films from 10 countries will be included in the 2010 edition of the Asian Film Festival of Dallas. The includes 33 features and 21 shorts for the event, which runs July 23-29 at both the Magnolia and Angelika Film Center in Dallas.

Keep reading for the news release, a full list of films and a schedule of events:

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Tuesday Morning Roundup

DREAM ON: Dreamgirls is in the middle of a nearly three week run at the Music Hall at Fair Park. If you’ve only seen the movie, the onscreen moment you probably remember most is Jennifer Hudson as Effie ripping into “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” – the song that pretty much won her the supporting actress Oscar. So how does the tour’s Moya Angela handle the role? Lawson Taitte says she “drives the audience wild” but that, “The most distinctive thing she brings to the role, though, is her forthright, sassy sex appeal.” Still, the role is largely about that one big song. And Mark Lowry says there comes a point where more is just more. “When she stands up and really rips into it, her physical reaction is a conniption fit,” he writes on theaterjones.com. “She convulses so much through the song that some of the words are lost, and she loses control of a major moment in Effie’s life. Her performance is not one of rage that stems from heartbreak. It’s forced and bordering on crazy.” Dreamgirls runs through July 18.

MUSICAL CHAIRS: The New York Times reports that a number of major orchestras are looking to fill spots. Included in that list is the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, which has three open positions. (The story doesn’t say which spots are open; I’ll see if I can’t run that down later.) So why all the help wanted signs? The Times says there are a few reasons: a) some groups have left positions unfilled to save money during the economic downturn b) some outgoing music directors have left the seats unfilled so that their replacements at the top can make the decision and c) auditioning for an orchestra is a long process. The part of the story that details that process is pretty interesting.

MORE THAN JUST BOOKS: If you’ve been to a library lately, you know that lending books is only one service that they provide. And the Los Angeles Times says that we need to consider just how important these institutions are. Marilyn Johnson, who wrote the column, goes so far as to say that libraries are, “one of the most effective levelers of privilege and avenues of reinvention — one of the great engines of democracy.” Just something to think about as local library hours continue to dwindle.

UPDATE: The open positions for the DSO are all due to retirement. The orchestra is in need of a concertmaster, a violin and a cello.

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Scenes from the Class Struggle in the Park Cities

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Categorized Under: Books, Culture

“With more shopping centers per capita than any other place in the country, is Dallas the most American city? Shopping is the primeval activity here in the Queen City of the Southwest . . . ”

North Texas author Ben Fountain (Brief Encounters with Che Guevara) reported on the  local, trendy, upscale retail economy for The New York Times’ opinion page July 2. He first visited Rich Hippie, the two-mom-founded, woman’s clothing boutique on Lovers Lane which seems to be doing well enough with its independent, non-designer-label fashions and its practical business model. Then he toured Highland Park Village and heard lots of happy news but saw few customers.

But as my fashion-sensible daughter told me as we stood outside Ralph Lauren admiring the psycho-preppie window displays, you can’t expect hordes of customers in the high-end shops: “Different market, Dad.” …  Meanwhile, average debt per Dallas resident ranks second in the country, with the lowest consumer credit quality of the nation’s largest metro areas.

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Monday Morning Roundup

STILL CHASING THE WHALE: After years of work on his Moby-Dick opera, which the Dallas Opera debuted in the spring, you’d think Jake Heggie would be tired of Melville for a while. But the opposite seems to be the case. Heggie has been commissioned to compose a new work – tentatively called Ahab Symphony. It’s all part of his being named artist-in-residence for 2010-11 at the University of North Texas. He’ll be taking over the position from filmmaker Guillermo Arriaga. “I have been wanting to expand the journey of Moby-Dick,” Heggie tells dallasnews.com, “to broaden it and really look at some of the Ahab monologues I was not able to include in the opera. I want to create a symphonic work that is in the universe of the opera, but is new material.”

BROADWAY IS WATCHING: I’ve been wondering if The New York Times was going to take an interest in the Dallas Theater Center’s It’s a Bird … It’s a Plane … It’s Superman. With all the talk of it possibly heading to Broadway one day, it seemed like the sort of thing The Times would take an interest in. Well, Sunday, it finally did. If you’ve been following the show’s path to the stage and the many local features and reviews over the past few months, there’s not much in the way of new information in this story. But it is worth a look for the slideshow, which gives you a pretty good idea of what the production looks like.

ON THERE OWN: While we were busy celebrating our independence from Britain this weekend, Mexico is busy for all of 2010 celebrating its independence from Spain. This year marks the 200th anniversary of Mexico’s independence, and the Dallas Museum of Art is recognizing the occasion with a pair of exhibitions: “José Guadalupe Posada: The Birth of Mexican Modernism” and “Tierra y Gente: Modern Mexican Works on Paper.” Gaile Robinson of dfw.com took in the shows and was most impressed by the work of Posada, a political cartoonist. If you’ve ever seen the art from Mexico that features those cartoonish skeletons, Posada is largely to thank.

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The Paul Slavens Show: Live Blog for July 4, 2010

Happy 4th everybody!
Well, I never do themes, but in order to make sure I keep with my no-theme rule, that means that I must sometimes do a theme, lest my no-theme actually becomes a theme.
So, with that explained, tonight we will have a considerable amount of music about America. Then, in celebration of six years on the radio, I will play some of my all-time favorite music. Hope you enjoy – leave comments and suggestions for future shows and have a great night.

Tonight’s setlist:

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