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This year, Dallas’ Office of Cultural Affairs is creating the city’s first cultural plan since 2002. A yearlong schedule of public events such as town halls, online surveys and meetings allows city leaders to hear from the people who mean the most: us.

Here’s why each of us should take the responsibility of letting the Office of Cultural Affairs know how we want to see the relationship between community and art change.

1. Financial support for artists

The arts are, without a doubt, necessary for society and humanity to function. But we are not adequately supporting our artists financially. Where is our International Cultural Calendar? Where are the abundance of artists, writers and poets who draw and write pieces on the spot? It is clear that artists do not feel financially secure; this cultural plan could give them a chance. Artists from all socioeconomic backgrounds should be able to find opportunity in the arts industry here in Dallas.

2. Better arts education for children

In Texas, it comes as no surprise when a public school district decides to spend $70 million to renovate a football stadium. It is crucial that we prioritize the arts just as much as we prioritize athletics. By promoting the arts from an early age, schools would send an inclusive and important message. An arts education does not have to come with an expensive price tag. Schools simply need to implement more creative activities in order to foster a more thoughtful learning environment that could help motor skills, language development and decision making as children grow older.

3. More accessible events in the Arts District

There is a very real divide between the communities that can easily access resources, arts and cultural events in the Arts District and the communities that live near Dallas. There are several ways in which the funding for the cultural plan could change this. The plan could bring about new and improved ideas about public transportation. It could also be a forum to discuss more neighborhood and local arts programs, creating cultural spaces that are more individualized and accessible for people who do not reside in Dallas.

4. Tax money

Here’s a simple reason for everyone to actively participate in this process: This is your tax money. If we voice our concerns, thoughts and ideas, we help decide how our money is being spent. By actively participating, we will be helping the Office of Cultural Affairs make decisions about what next year’s budget will ultimately look like.

Personally, I hope the cultural center will focus on better supporting our artists and working toward a more inclusive and accessible environment for artists and families. Cultural centers and resources are concentrated right in the heart of Dallas. It is time the Office of Cultural Affairs considers how it can reach residents of all areas and how it can nurture artists and writers of all backgrounds.

It is vital to keep our passion for the cultural plan alive. Continue to stay involved and informed. As Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings puts it in his Cultural Plan Announcement, “Long live Dallas, and long live the arts.”

Julianne Yu is a student at Carroll Senior High School in Southlake and a Dallas Morning News Community Voices columnist.

Email: julianne8763@gmail.com

Originally Published by DallasNews.com on October 25, 1017
Julianne Yu, Contributor
Photo details:┬áMichelle Gibson, grand marshal of The Kickin’ Brass Band, performs on stage at the Arts District Block Party on Friday, June 16, 2017 in Dallas. (Credit: Jeffrey McWhorter/Special Contributor)

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