As writers, we always look for a hook to lure in readers, and when writing about anything Texas-related, the temptation is strong to fall back on the "everything's bigger in Texas" trope. It's predictable, it's lazy, and in the case of recent news that the Arts Community Alliance (TACA) gave out the most money to Dallas area arts organizations in its history, it's completely and totally accurate.
TACA, the Dallas metropolitan area's preeminent arts umbrella organization, will be handing out $1.3 million to 46 Dallas-area arts groups in 2014, an impressive 18 percent funding increase over 2013. Recipients range from the Avant Chamber Ballet ($5,000) to the Dallas Opera and Dallas Theater Center ($110,000 a piece). Furthermore, past grant recipients are also getting a raise from the amounts they saw in 2013. The Bruce Wood Dance Project, for example, will see their funding jump from $17,500 in 2013 to $22,000 this year.
So we have to ask: Why are Dallas arts organizations not only receiving funding, but getting a raise? Four reasons come to mind.
- There's a market. The Dallas metropolitan area covers approximately 6.7 million people and includes dozens of universities. They have the key foundational ingredient — a prospective audience pool — and they have it in abundance.
- There's affluence. Of course, the sheer existence of millions of possible "consumers" doesn't guarantee success. And while there's evidence that economically-distressed communities can nonetheless thrive artistically, it certainly helps when your residents have disposable income. That is the case in Dallas, where the metropolitan mean income is $56,954, placing it 26th on the list of the country's most affluent cities. It also doesn't hurt to have independently wealthy Dallas philanthropists like Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.
- TACA is a fundraising juggernaut. The citizens of Dallas may be relatively affluent, but they're not cutting TACA checks unprovoked. The fact is that the alliance does a phenomenal job at fundraising and partnering with the city's corporate stakeholders. For example, a cursory look at their upcoming events list two fundraisers, both of which include local and deep-pocketed corporations (Lexus and RBC Wealth Management, respectively.)
- Success builds upon success. TACA has a proven track record of creating "repeat customers." In fact, they predict that in 2014 their funding will help stage 5,000 unique performances that will be viewed by 1.2 million attendees.
This news is all the more impressive when you consider that funding is drying up in many cities across the country. One can only imagine what 2015 will bring.