Dallas area arts organizations, ever in survival mode, have to hate the Irving Arts Center and the 13 small local arts groups that benefit from IAC's total funding by the city of Irving. Public funding means no pledge drives, no schmoozing of corporate sponsors. IAC's financial plan for fiscal year 1999-2000 seemed simple: Formulate a $6.9 million budget based on projected revenues from Irving's hotel-motel tax; get city council approval; and dance, sing, act, and exhibit your heart out. But this year, the IAC got stuck with a $450,000 shortfall from lower-than-expected tax revenues that sent executive director Richard Huff and marketing director Jo Trizila scrambling. Huff is committed to solving the problem by internal belt-tightening like reducing travel and advertising expenses. "But not one staff member will be cut," says Trizila, "and the budget for our 13 community organizations will not change." Apparently, tourism was way off last year in Irving, which draws heavily from Cowboys games and Asian business types who visit corporate headquarters in Los Colinas. "If the Cowboys have a winning season," she says, "and if the Japanese markets recover, things would be a lot better." Who says football isn't good for the arts?
A league of their own
As if Jo Trizila didn't have enough on her professional plate, she was just named president of the Dallas Theater League, a group that's suffered over its five-year history from member apathy and infighting. DTL may actually become more of an advocacy group for local theater than simply the producer of the annual Leon Rabin awards, Trizila says, or it may die trying. "This is our do-or-die year," she says. "You know that 'Got Milk?' campaign? We're using that approach." With a new board-committee structure including Dallas powerhouses like Dallas Theater Center managing director Edith Love; Pegasus Theater's Dan Cunningham; and Matthews Group ad-guy Craig Boleman, DTL will get its "We've got theater" message out in a cooperative marketing effort. "We're not supporting one theater," Trizila says. "We're supporting live theater in Dallas." The DTL's annual Rabin awards will honor the best of Dallas theater this year at the Meyerson on November 1, and the "Standing Ovation" top trophy will go to The Meadows School of the Arts for its ongoing support and cultivation of Dallas theater artists. Perhaps next year, they could hold the Rabin awards at a swank Irving hotel, which would then help pay for the Irving Arts Center's budget shortfall.