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Dallas Cultural Plan Aims To Bring Equity To Arts Funding

Hady Mawajdeh
Joy Bailey-Bryant of Lord Cultural Resources speaks to Dallas residents at Red Bird Mall.

The city of Dallas hasn’t been distributing arts funding equally across races and neighborhoods, according to a new blueprint for the city’s cultural future — and the city wants to do better.

After twelve months and 150 community meetings with Dallas residents, the city’s Office of Cultural Affairs has drafted a new cultural plan.

“It’s been a really long and really fun process,” Jennifer Scripps says about the process of crafting a cultural plan. Scripps is Dallas’ director of Cultural Affairs. “It’s brought 8,000 Dallas residents out to talk about arts and culture in their lives and how they experience it, how they participate in it, how it affects their lives.”

Their plan has six priorities which include finding arts spaces, improving communication and making the arts sustainable. But equity is at the top of the list.

“The City of Dallas, through the Office of Cultural Affairs, has acknowledged that historically different communities and different artists, arts organizations have been supported at different levels,” Joy Bailey-Bryant read aloud to a crowd of Dallas residents. “And that the city has been instrumental in supporting some organizations more heavily than others.”

Bailey-Bryant is vice president with Lord Cultural Resources. Her firm helped create the new plan. It asserts the right for all residents to have access to arts and culture. And it acknowledges that racism and bias have shaped today’s arts landscape.

“Now,” Bailey-Bryant continues, “what the city is saying is what we’re going to do is look to and act on opportunities to bolster those places where there’s been an inequitable investment in arts and culture.”

Read a longer version of this story, see the full equity statement and hear an audio report here at

Hady Mawajdeh has been a reporter, producer, and digital editor at KERA since 2016. He is the creator and the co-host of KERA's first narrative podcast, Gun Play. And prior to his work in engagement, he also reported on arts and culture, social justice, and gun rights for the newsroom.