ArtPrize Dallas Is a Big Thing That Won't Happen Here Next Year

Ariel Saldivar tried to bring a big idea to Dallas, but it wasn't the right "Big Thing" to happen here.EXPAND
Ariel Saldivar tried to bring a big idea to Dallas, but it wasn't the right "Big Thing" to happen here.
Can Turkyilmaz

And just like that, a populist citywide art event pulls out from Dallas. A letter that went out to ArtPrize Dallas stakeholders says lack of resources and disappointing resistance to an event perceived by some "as threatening to the status quo" were among the reasons for the cancellation.

This was to be the first franchise of an event in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and its failure to make it here is a reminder that the art patrons in Dallas will show up dressed to the nines for galas like TWOxTWO last week, raising millions of dollars for the Dallas Museum of Art and amfAR, but aren't interested in seeing an event like ArtPrize come to life, which allows artists of any caliber to participate. Maybe if the folks behind ArtPrize Dallas had thrown a few celebrity-driven galas they would have received the support they needed. Maybe they'll try again year after next. 

Here's the letter that went out to the stakeholders: 

Dear ArtPrize Dallas Stakeholder,

Dallas has worked hard to build an urban infrastructure that can support a variety of cultural destinations that appeal to all walks of life. And, the visual arts have played an especially important role in defining and stimulating the city center. Therefore, we were very excited to propose a local event that would celebrate Dallas as a diverse and visionary city — an incredible occasion to unite our citizens with varying people and ideas of the world.

ArtPrize Dallas was a tangible realization to what had previously been a dialogue. The effort, intentionally populist, was designed to open up a world that was too often limited by exclusivity, and make that world accessible to every citizen that entered our downtown area. Hopes of a student, a day laborer, a merchant — all directly engaging in the cultural landscape that called out to them in their own unique way.

During the process of planning and working with stakeholders it became clear that many were thrilled and excited to see new avenues of growth and opportunity for all. Despite the visionary understanding of our supporters, there were a few who saw the concept as threatening to the status quo. The resistance was especially disappointing since ArtPrize Dallas would have had a tremendous, positive economic impact. Regardless, ArtPrize Dallas aimed to create opportunity and advancement that supported and celebrated artists, and engaged the nation in our local context.

Never the less, we made tremendous progress in this effort, and we truly believe that one day our city will be ready for such an inclusive and unique undertaking, but unfortunately, today is not that day. Many of us have worked tirelessly to make this happen, however, we do not currently have the resources necessary to launch this event in the timeline provided. It has been a joy to deepen connections with colleagues and engage in a dialogue that focused on finding opportunities to extend our collective efforts.

There have been many lessons learned along the way, not the least of which is that no effort is in vain. When the results are not what we strived for, being disappointed is okay but being discouraged is not. Our charge is to continue pursuing and celebrating the spirit of creativity and innovation. What we have attempted is nothing short of extraordinary. We will continue to champion the arts and support the culture and people that make our city great in hopes of working together with you for the betterment of this city we all love so much.

My deepest thanks for your support and advocacy,

Ariel Saldivar
Executive Director 


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