This past weekend Art House Dallas was highlighted in the Dallas Morning News on the front page of the Arts & Life Sunday feature. For those of you who have followed our journey over the past year and a half and watched Art House build its Dallas chapter we are honored to share this story with you, humbled by the time that author, Michael Granberry spent with us, and very excited about publicly spreading the foundation of cultivating creative community to the city of Dallas. If you haven't seen the article, take a moment to check out the story below. Thank you to everyone has played a part in our successes and community role -- we see great things ahead!
Art House Dallas fuels creativity by bringing artists together
Jenny White and Trey Bowles begin the conversation at the soon-to-be home of Art House Dallas by playing a video, a powerful two-minute presentation that says it all:
“Over the years,” the narrator says, “Dallas natives have started to shape this city into their own masterpiece. They have built arts districts, amphitheaters, museums, concert halls, film studios and more.”
There is, however, a glaring void.
“Compared to other large cities,” the film notes, “Dallas is far from reaching its artistic potential. Texas is cutting its school art programs by 46 percent. It falls into the bottom 30 percent in live music. Dallas should be a major artistic hub — and can be.”
That’s where Art House Dallas comes in. Founded in October 2010, Art House Dallas sprang from Art House America, which began 20 years ago in the musical mecca of Nashville, Tenn. Art House America defines itself as “a unique artistic hub for rich hospitality, conversations of consequence and imaginative creativity.”
Even without a home of its own, Art House Dallas has staged 38 events in 20 months. White, a Dallas native who serves as executive director, says Art House Dallas seeks “to equip artists.” In the parlance of the day, “We connect them with each other. We also just want to encourage them, because artists are so isolated.”
White, 29, is a Texas A&M grad who grew up in Highland Park and worked in the administration of President George W. Bush from 2006 to 2008. She oversees an emerging nonprofit that in 2013 will open its own home, on the third floor of a building adjacent to Munger Place United Methodist Church in East Dallas.
It’s a $1.75 million, 7,320-square-foot project that will house under one 30-foot roof a coffee bar, a culinary arts kitchen, a recording studio, a film-editing bay and classrooms, not to mention a fireplace. The rent? $10 a year. People of any age can take part in events offered by Art House Dallas.
White, programs director Marissa Miller and their 13-member creative council hope to champion artists by giving them a place to meet, to connect and to build relationships that lead to something big.
"We serve writers, we serve photographers,” she says. “Musicians were our primary target group, because Art House America was founded by Charlie Peacock, a music producer. So much of its influence was through the music community, so we started with musicians.”
That led to a quarterly event called Feedback, which sprang from a song project instituted in early 2011.
“We had more than 60 singer-songwriters — which we were shocked by,” White says. “The musicians said, ‘We love this, but what we really need is a place to get critiques on our music before we try it on an open-mike stage.’”
Bowles, 35, who teaches entrepreneurship at Meadows School of the Arts at Southern Methodist University, is a member of White’s creative council. He sees the local chapter of Art House America as being able to provide “a collaborative ecosystem of creativity in Dallas.”
That led to Art House Exchange, which broadened the scope beyond musicians. “We can’t just serve musicians,” White says. “We need so many more creative people in the city.” She calls Art House Exchange “a pub gathering that allows everyone to come and connect — no agenda. It’s two hours where people can be introduced and take it from there.”
The future promises classes for kids and adults, films, songs, books and recipes produced by Art House Dallas alumni. Art House Dallas already boasts one success story. Singer-songwriter Cameron Ernst, a 2010 graduate of the University of Southern California, met a producer and an engineer through Art House Dallas. They’re helping him record a song titled “Love Never Fails” that will serve as the cornerstone of an anti-bullying campaign he takes into schools called “Love on the Road.”
In his case, Art House Dallas “provided the right circumstance to bring artists together for a bigger cause,” Ernst says. “I got to meet people that were passionate about the work I was doing and were willing to work alongside me.”
Bowles uses the Ernst example to note that “our overarching goal is cultivating creativity for the common good.”
It also won’t hurt a bit, White says, to start to put homegrown artists into all those buildings the city has built for celebrating art.
Dallas’ next phase, White says, should be “to focus on training and keeping the artists we have. My 10-year vision is to make Dallas a place where artists will want to move but also to keep the artists already here, who will stay and invest in our city.”