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City Council: Vote NO to $15M ATTPAC Bailout & Vote YES to Neighborhood Arts Districts

This petition had 975 supporters


We want to give the Dallas City Council an alternative to the $15 million bailout for the AT&T Performing Arts Center, and offer council the opportunity to transform every city district through the DALLAS CITYWIDE ARTS IMPACT PROJECT which will improve the quality of life, create enthusiasm for our communities, cultivate social and civic responsibility in our citizens, spark economic activity, and prepare young people for successful academic and professional careers through the arts and culture. The DALLAS CITYWIDE ARTS IMPACT PROJECT will not add funding to the existing 2016-2017 city budget but will provide an opportunity for this City Council to transform our neighborhoods. This kind of opportunity may never present itself again, and we hope this City Council takes advantage of the unique opportunity to establish its legacy on arts and culture by either bringing arts and culture to every city district or by bailing out the Arts District. 

THE DALLAS CITYWIDE ARTS IMPACT PROJECT

1. We ask that City Council vote 'NO' to awarding ATTPAC with a $15 million bailout over the next ten years and and we ask that City Council introduce a new amendment - DALLAS CITYWIDE ARTS IMPACT PROJECT. We ask that City Council vote "YES" on the DALLAS CITYWIDE ARTS IMPACT PROJECT and redirect $15 million originally earmarked for the ATTPAC bailout to this dynamic new project. Read on for more details. 

2. For $6 million, the Dallas Citywide Arts Impact Project will bring Neighborhood Arts Districts (roving cultural centers) and community arts projects to every city council district. Currently, Dallas is home to several cultural deserts. Only four of the 14 districts in Dallas have a cultural center. Over the next ten years, each district would receive $42,857 annually to program performances, exhibitions, public art, and other initiatives. Members from each neighborhood would curate programming and identify locations for events with an artistic liaison, perhaps through the City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs. As an example, in 2014, a group of citizens in the Pleasant Grove area of Dallas organized and developed a plan and programming for a roving cultural center. However, funding from the city never came. To this day, Pleasant Grove is waiting for their cultural center, and this alternative could bring them what they need. Moreover, each Neighborhood Arts District can also raise private funds to compliment city funding. For example, at the Oak Cliff Cultural Center, Cara Mia Theatre receives a $17,000 services contract from the city to produce a summer camp experience for kids ages 7-14. To double the impact on the community, Cara Mía Theatre raises an additional $17,000 each year to increase the capacity and the impact of the summer camp. This turns out to be a great partnership because the $17,000 from the city serves as seed money to raise another $17,000 from private sources. Artists and organizations like Cara Mia Theatre throughout the city would be eager to support each district in developing their own Neighborhood Arts District.

3. The Dallas Citywide Arts Impact Project will provide $9 million to begin building a Phase 2 Flexible Performing Arts Space at the Latino Cultural Center or the Dallas City Performance Hall. This will create vital opportunities for small and mid-size companies to establish a theatre home in order to develop consistent seasons, cultivate an audience base, and strategically build revenue that will act as an economic generator for the City of Dallas. Currently, the lack of theatre spaces are strangling the growth and evolution of young, small and midsize performing arts organizations in Dallas. During the course of construction, we ask that the city bring back the ATTPAC Elevator Series curated by the City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs.

4. We ask that City Council vote ‘NO’ on the public-private partnership with the Texas Fair Park Foundation, Inc. until there is a complete and transparent plan. The city's current contract with the foundation does not assure community involvement and accountability, and the Fair Park Foundation could make the Margo Jones Theatre unavailable to small theatre groups. (http://www.wfaa.com/news/local/investigates/letter-about-meeting-on-fair-parks-future-raises-questions/287260589

5. We urge City Council to immediately modify and / or introduce new procedures in zoning in relation to art galleries and theatre performances in non-traditional spaces. Recently, the Dallas Fire Marshall has shut down a string of several theatre performances, art shows, and gallery receptions due to the inability of the city’s Codes of Occupancy to accommodate vital cultural spaces. This has contributed to the stifling of the growing arts community in Dallas. (http://artsandculturetx.com/artspace-crackdown-in-dallas/

6. We ask that members of the artistic community co-draft and approve the next cultural policy for the City of Dallas. This will impact arts practices in the city of Dallas for several years to come and there must be a transparent process that includes the artistic community.

7. Moving forward, we want the Office of Cultural Affairs to create clear procedures for transparency, accountability, community engagement and equity. We insist that concerns voiced by the community and the Cultural Affairs Commission regarding questionable or inappropriate practices by OCA, arts organizations or individuals be formally addressed by OCA staff and the Cultural Affairs Commission in an open, transparent and documented review. 

8. To lead the City of Dallas towards greater transparency and accountability, we ask that all Office of Cultural Affairs staff participate in equity training.

WHY THE ATTPAC BAILOUT IS A BAD DEAL FOR DALLAS

1. ATTPAC has not announced an austerity plan in response to the $15 million bailout. This is concerning when the CEO's salary is $411,769 per year, the total executive salaries are $1,237,192, and according to the most recent public 990, ATTPAC finished with an operating deficit of $1,320,275. These facts demand the question: What is the bailout actually paying for?

2. As part of an austerity plan, we believe that the organization can focus more on managing the ATTPAC buildings and reducing programming, the number of productions, and expenses. Other arts organizations and private businesses have to observe these rules of business management. ATTPAC should do the same.

3. The $1.5 million bailout for the next ten years will not be listed as a contract for debt relief from the City of Dallas to ATTPAC. Instead, the $1.5 million is added to ATTPAC's proposed services contract through the City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs. Apparently, the legal contract will show that ATTPAC simply receives $1.5 million more money per year for its regular services, an increase from $2.5 million per year to $4 million per year without clarification that this funding is earmarked as a bailout and not increased funding for program support.

4. No Dallas City Council Member has seen a contract detailing the list of services that ATTPAC will provide to the community in exchange for the $15 million bailout money over ten years.

5. The tentative list of services that ATTPAC is providing for the additional $1.5 million per year includes e-marketing and ticketing, free performances by area schools in front of the Winspear, marketing support for Arts Month, and "Other City event support: DPD Let's Talk Program, increased parking support, etc." This hardly merits a $1.5 million increase for ATTPAC's annual services contract with the City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs.

6. The community needs performance spaces. The absolute least that ATTPAC can do for the community is bring back the Elevator Series in which community theatre companies are allowed to use the 6th floor black box theatre for three week production runs. This Elevator Series should last 10 years, the duration of the bailout. Without the Elevator Series, the ATTPAC bailout is not palatable for local groups. I would also suggest that the OCA curate the series to assure fair selection of groups.

7. The ATTPAC bailout benefits a small collection of performing arts groups with some of the most high-powered fundraising boards in the city. Moreover, we believe that it is unfair that ATTPAC's Board of Directors is holding the City of Dallas hostage by refusing to raise an additional $1.5 million per year, and not demanding that ATTPAC management take necessary austerity measures to compensate for this $1.5 million per year that the City of Dallas is being asked to provide. 

8. There is no proof on the record - on contract, letter, or even the press - that states that the banks will release ATTPAC from their loan debt only on the condition that Dallas City Council votes to provides $15M in bailout money. On the record, the only reference to this matter is found in Robert Wilonsky’s article in the Dallas Morning News, June 9th, 2016: “I asked if the deal tanks if the council votes against the $15 million. Curtis said it will make settling harder, but not impossible.” If the banks need an extra $15 million to pay for the building, the Board of Directors from ATTPAC and / or every resident organization should offer to pay the remaining debt instead of asking the City of Dallas to pay. Citizens of Dallas do not appreciate the use of privilege and power that is compelling City Council to spend tax payers' money on a bailout.

9. Finally, the buildings in the Arts District belong to the city as a gift from the Board of Directors of ATTPAC, and a $15 million payment of loans was never part of the deal. The argument that this arts complex serves the entire city is not sound. Tickets are not affordable for the majority of Dallas citizens and such an exclusive number of organizations cannot reach the entire city. 

We ask that the Dallas City Council vote "NO" on a $15 million bailout to the AT&T Performing Arts Center (ATTPAC), and we ask that City Council introduce an amendment to redirect the $15 million to fund the DALLAS CITYWIDE ARTS IMPACT PROJECT (DCA) over the next ten years. 

 



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