Director of Programming at the AT&T Performing Arts Center

HOW THE DALLAS ARTS SCENE IS BEING SHAPED BY THIS ROCK STAR

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By Abbie Kopf, Communications Manager

If you’ve even dipped a toe in the Dallas arts scene, you’ve probably enjoyed the work of Becki Howard in one form or another. As Director of Programming at the AT&T Performing Arts Center, Becki’s responsible for bringing some of the hottest acts to town, a fitting position for someone who is one of the hottest acts in town.

Becki plays violin for Bethan, a local quintet whose latest record, Time Gone By, is being described as “phenomenally accomplished.” When she’s not wowing music critics, Becki serves on the executive committee of Art Conspiracy, a ten-year-old organization that seeds local arts nonprofits, and serves as a massively popular stage for up-and-coming artists.

I sat down with Becki in her office overlooking the Arts District and, like the rest of the Center’s space, it feels less like an office and more like a monument to Dallas culture. A few of the many posters plastered on Becki’s wall highlight the acts she has brought to the Center, like the elusive Rodriguez, living legend Loretta Lynn and musical Xanax Explosions in the Sky. Other artwork is devoted to her baby – Patio Sessions.

Patio Sessions, which won the Dallas Observer’s 2012 Best Outdoor Music Series, is part of the Center’s strong commitment to providing completely free programming to the community at large, so that everyone can be enriched by the arts. Each year, Patio Sessions’ two-season arc features local musicians in the picturesque Sammons Park, and has set a standard of quality for local showcases.

“I believe in quality over quantity,” Becki explains. “I look at everything with a curatorial eye.”

Becki’s goal for the Center is the same as it is for her city. “I want Dallas to be a destination, not a pass through – where you go if you want the same kind of quality that you would get if you went to New York or London.”

Already, the Center’s Broadway Series, which Becki also helps oversee, has become synonymous with monster hits like The Book of Mormon and The Phantom of the Opera, but Becki believes it is important to balance the enormous with the emerging, so that everyone can find their place within the Dallas arts offerings.

“When we are deciding what shows to bring in to the Center, it’s a practical risk analysis, and sometimes we intentionally decide that something might come in that won’t bring in that much money, but is culturally significant,” says Becki. It’s the “mission-driven” shows – ones that are experimental, less well known, or even provocative – that Becki believes reflects the artistic integrity of the Center and will ultimately drive diversity in audiences and genres.

Becki reflects back on the early days of the Center. “We were very grassroots,” she says. “The Center staff would print flyers and walk places and hand them out in order to spread the word about our programming.”

Since then, Becki’s programming prowess has established the Center as a vital component of the cultural health of the community. It makes sense considering her other endeavors.

“The bottom line is that I’m a performer, so I can look at things from the perspective of an artist or the audience and have a holistic view of what will make someone’s experience at the Center extraordinary,” Becki says.

If you would like to experience an amazing show, or to contribute to the free community programming, visit www.attpac.org

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