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Dallas arts groups won’t take May bond package for granted. ‘It ain’t over 'til it’s over’

The Bath House Cultural Center located near White Rock Lake needs repairs. Officials are seeking funding from the upcoming 2024 bond package.
Yfat Yossifor
The Bath House Cultural Center located near White Rock Lake needs repairs. Officials are seeking funding from the upcoming 2024 bond package.

Editor's note: This story is part of an ongoing series for Arts Access examining the health and well-being of our North Texas arts economy.

Dallas residents will vote on a $1.25 billion bond package in May, which includes one of the largest allocations for cultural facilities in decades.

The Dallas City Council allocated $75.2 million of the package last Wednesday for cultural facilities or a little over 6% of the package, which local arts leaders have fiercely advocated for in recent months.

Chris Heinbaugh, chief advocacy officer at the AT&T Performing Arts Center, says it would be a “historic investment.” It would be the most funding Dallas cultural facilities have received in the last five bond programs, going as far back as 1998.

“It ain't over ‘til it's over, and it's still got to go to the voters,” he said. “But in general, I think we feel that this is just a real strong affirmation of the cultural and artistic resources that our city has.”

He said the money would go toward basic repairs and maintenance. That includes replacing electrical panels at the Bath House Cultural Center, roof repair at the Dallas Black Dance Theatre and security cameras and updated lighting at the AT&T Performing Arts Center.

Zenetta S. Drew, executive director of Dallas Black Dance Theatre, said the funding would help maintain the theater’s historic building.

“The 2024 bond program for Dallas cultural facilities will have a tremendous impact on ensuring the maintenance and critical repairs needed to preserve the historic former Moorland YMCA building as the home for Dallas Black Dance Theatre and as one of only three buildings in the Dallas Arts District remaining from the early African American community,” she said.

The city of Dallas cost inventory for cultural facilities reached $133.2 million in 2024, according to the city’s needs inventory.

One of the things that we have made very clear from the start, there is nothing shiny and new in this. This is all about taking care of what we've got,” he said.

Dallas residents will vote May 4 on city infrastructure projects for the next five years.

The current planned breakdown of funding to individual cultural facilities is subject to change but includes:

  • Dallas Museum of Art: $20 million 
  • Kalita Humphreys Theater: $8.98 million 
  • Majestic Theatre: $8.43 million
  • Meyerson Symphony Center: $7.32 million 
  • Winspear Opera House: $6.6 million 
  • Wyly Theatre: $5 million 
  • Latino Cultural Center: $4.24 million 
  • Sammons Center for the Arts: $3.79 million 
  • Dallas Black Dance Theatre: $3.13 million 
  • Moody Performance Hall: $2.31 million 
  • South Dallas Cultural Center: $2.28 million 
  • Bath House Cultural Center: $1.47 million 
  • AT&T Performing Arts Center: $881,000 
  • Strauss Square: $576,000 
  • Oak Cliff Cultural Center: $450,000 

Arts Access is an arts journalism collaboration powered by The Dallas Morning News and KERA.

This community-funded journalism initiative is funded by the Better Together Fund, Carol & Don Glendenning, City of Dallas OAC, The University of Dallas at Texas, Communities Foundation of Texas, The Dallas Foundation, Eugene McDermott Foundation, James & Gayle Halperin Foundation, Jennifer & Peter Altabef and The Meadows Foundation. The News and KERA retain full editorial control of Arts Access’ journalism.

Elizabeth Myong is KERA’s Arts Collaborative Reporter. She came to KERA from New York, where she worked as a CNBC fellow covering breaking news and politics. Before that, she freelanced as a features reporter for the Houston Chronicle and a modern arts reporter for Houstonia Magazine.