| Arts |

PAC It Up, or: Why Dallas Is "Lucky" the Original Arts District Master Plan "Failed"

Keep Dallas Observer Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Dallas and help keep the future of Dallas Observer free.

Monday's the big day -- the grand opening of the AT&T Performing Arts Center, which kicks off at 8 a.m. with South Pacific star Keala Settle performing the "The Star-Spangled Banner" before AT&T PAC president and CEO Mark Nerenhausen, Mayor Tom Leppert and other city officials play ball. Hence yet another national-press piece concerning the AT&TPAC's impact on Dallas and downtown -- this one from former Observer-er Tom Korosec, writing for Bloomberg News that it's just as well the original Arts District plan, conceived in '78 and formalized in '82 by Sasaki Associates didn't work out as quite as planned. Says Margaret McDermott, "We were lucky it failed." (Alexander Garvin, who wrote critically about it in his 2002 book The American City: What Works, What Doesn't, would agree.)

Still, as Newsweek pointed out one week ago, a performing arts center doesn't a city make. And ancillary developments around the AT&TPAC have been put on hold for myriad reasons, most of which, say Lucy Billingsley, rhyme with "economy." To which SMU prof and Dallas historian Darwin Payne says, "Dallas civic leaders and big-money people love to say we're the biggest and best. I can't imagine another city trying to build it in quite the same way."

Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Observer community and help support independent local journalism in Dallas.


Join the Observer community and help support independent local journalism in Dallas.