Arts district thrives because the city wasn’t in charge

Interesting perspective on the new arts district Downtown by the DMN over the weekend. The architecture is being roundly praised, as is the planning and goal of centralizing Dallas’ prominent arts programs. And the stories point out that what will open next month is part of a plan that was put in place 38 years ago and has cost more than $1 billion — much of it put up by wealthy Dallas residents, instead of pried completely from city and taxpayer coffers.

One of the stories, by the DMN‘s Rodger Jones, raises an interesting issue: If the point of the arts district is to bring more of the rest of us (not just wealthy arts partrons) Downtown, where is the planning for the rest of us? The few restaurants in the immediate area are a little high-brow, and there’s not much chance of that changing anytime soon because the few people who live nearby could barely keep a Subway open anyway. And sadly, now that the arts district could use a little city love money, there’s none left to pass around, thanks to all of the money sunk into subsidizing relatively far-away residential projects Downtown, as well as the money sunk into the convention center hotel, clear on the other side of Downtown.

The arts district is a testament to what private enterprise and creative vision can do with just a shot of city money — it’s creative, dynamic and inspiring, as far as it goes. Look at the city’s convention center hotel design and planning if you want to see the other side of that coin — that’s what you get when city employees and politicians sidestep professional developers and cram a quickie design together just to have something to put in front of voters.

Too bad we don’t have any money left to help keep the momentum going on the side of town that has earned it.

 



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