The district’s director surveyed 10 of the 12 organizations that call it home. They’re in a tailspin, she says.
By Michael Granberry
From The Dallas Morning News
Lily Cabatu Weiss, executive director of the Dallas Arts District, shared the shocking news Friday that 10 of the 12 organizations in the city’s Arts District have sustained collective losses of $18.5 million since March 13, the day President Trump declared a national emergency in response to the coronavirus.
“It’s more than 200 shows or exhibits canceled, collectively,” she added, noting that lost attendance combined is now “closer to 300,000.”
And the problem, of course, is that “no one knows when it’s going to end.”
The same is true across the rest of the country. A recent nationwide survey released by Americans for the Arts estimates that the coronavirus’s total economic impact on nonprofit arts and cultural organizations is around $3.7 billion. (It also breaks down losses at the local level, though those numbers are outdated for Dallas Arts District groups, many of which have seen their situations worsen dramatically since they responded to the survey weeks ago, Weiss said.)
She contends that, once the worst of the pandemic lifts, the arts will undergo a renaissance, not only because people need them for their own well-being but also because of the positive economic impact they bring to a city. Data from five years ago, she said, put the economic impact of the arts in Dallas at $1 billion a year. For the Arts District alone, she said, it was $400 million five years ago.
In order to heal, arts organizations may need to take advantage of an uptick in charitable giving, which changes enacted in the $2 trillion stimulus package have made easier. In other words, wealthy donors are in a better position to help arts organizations stanch the bleeding than government sources.
“In Dallas and Texas, we have major philanthropists, and we are counting on them to know how important this is,” Weiss said.