A Haitian-Cuban American with vast experience in the arts hired as Dallas’ arts director
Martine Elyse Philippe will become the director of the city’s Office of Arts and Culture on Dec. 5.
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Martine Elyse Philippe, a Haitian-Cuban American who has spent the past 15 years in arts administration in Los Angeles, has been hired as the new director of the Dallas Office of Arts and Culture, City Manager T.C. Broadnax announced Monday afternoon.
Philippe’s appointment comes at a critical time in the life of Dallas’ arts and cultural community. The city’s boldly ambitious Cultural Plan, adopted in 2018, was essentially put on hold by the devastating effects of the pandemic that are only now beginning to subside.
Broadnax cited two elements of Philippe’s vast portfolio as being the most noteworthy: She served as national community art manager of the Los Angeles-based A Window Between Worlds and as chairwoman of the district 12 Arts Task Force, which operated under the umbrella of the Atlanta City Council.
Broadnax said Philippe had done nothing less than “transform trauma” by creating “community-based methods of change and social justice through art.” He also cited her ability to forge private-public partnerships that span “city government and the non-profit sector.”
Among those saluting the hire were David Lozano, executive artistic director of Cara Mía Theatre Co., who has been an outspoken voice in attempting to move the city toward a greater degree of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
“This is a step in the right direction,” Lozano said. “It’s an opportunity for us to take a much bigger-than-expected step toward racial equity in the arts. And I applaud the city manager’s office for making this transformational hire.”
Philippe began her career as a trained dancer, before advancing to arts administration with the City of Atlanta, for which she developed a dance curriculum before becoming Cultural Affairs Project Coordinator for the Atlanta Office of Cultural Affairs.
She is no stranger to executive roles, having served as executive director of the Atlanta Resource for Entertainment & Arts. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in African American Studies from the University of Georgia and a Master of Arts degree in Education Leadership from Argosy University.
“Martine is devoted to diversity, equity, and inclusion in every facet of art and culture and the proud child of immigrants from Haiti and Cuba,” Broadnax said. “She has a desire to utilize the breadth of her experiences to make a tremendous impact in the City of Dallas.”
Philippe succeeds Benjamin Espino, who served as interim director after the March resignation of Jennifer Scripps, who held the position for almost six years before becoming the CEO of Downtown Dallas Inc.
As Scripps noted in 2018, the city is changing, and nowhere is that more evident than in the Cultural Plan, a $600,000 public-private endeavor formulated by what was then known as the Office of Cultural Affairs.
Jennifer Scripps, Director of Arts and Culture for the City of Dallas, inside a suite at The National Residences in downtown Dallas, on Monday, March 7, 2022.(Ben Torres / Special Contributor)
“We don’t live in a Camelot world any more,” Scripps said at the time. In contrast for today’s generation, which embraces multiculturalism: “It’s all about Hamilton.”
“Don’t we want to be like Hamilton?” she added. “Don’t we want to be more like Black Panther? Our children today take it for granted that culture includes this richer, more exciting, more diverse offering. And if you don’t embrace it, you get left in the dust.”
Philippe will begin the job on Dec. 5.
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