When budget cuts become inevitable in cities or schools, arts traditionally get reduced first. When Dallas budget cuts came up, they decided to ax the Office of Cultural Affairs all together.
The Office of Cultural Affairs provides opportunities for all Dallas residents to have access to the arts and the means of cultural expression via the cultural services procurement process, facilities development and administration, a public art program and special projects/services, according to their program description.
Understandably, City Hall Manager Mary Suhm had quite a task on her hands being asked to shrink a city deficit from $190 million to $38 million, arts bring a significant amount of revenue to the city, and cutting back could prove counterproductive.
It’s hard to quantify the importance of culture with hard data, because its significance goes beyond financial reward, but in cases such as these, it’s a must.
The most recent study found that the arts brings $289 for every dollar the City spends on programming and facilities. In that year, the arts provided an economic impact to the City of Dallas of $549.7 million.
Ironically, the city recently approved a $500 million hotel, where visitors drawn here for the vibrant arts scene would potentially stay.
Currently the best those interested in saving a 20-year-old integral city office can do is attend one of the Town Hall Meetings in their community beginning Aug. 10 or attend Arts Advocacy Day on Aug. 20.
Holly LaFon has written and worked for various local publications including D Magazine and Examiner.