The contents of this document were authored, originated, organized and presented as part of the official Cultural Planning process submitted to the City of DeSoto, Texas. Any partial or whole use of this document must have the express written permission of Margie Johnson Reese. ©





i appendix


Over the span of about eighteen months (August 2019 – October 2020), the DeSoto Arts Commission guided a planning process to discover opportunities for further development of the arts in DeSoto. Through this process, Commissioners looked deeply at their own operations, analyzed trends in the field of arts management and considered the city’s geographic positioning between the neighboring mega arts cities of Dallas and Ft. Worth. Commission members reviewed ways to build a stronger arts and cultural sector for DeSoto by envisioning opportunities to embed creativity into the city’s comprehensive plan and across other city departments. Throughout the planning period, the Commission focused on the idea of collaboration as a key lever for boosting public participation in the arts. The planning process responded to several key questions posed by members of the Arts Commission and DeSoto residents, which frame the recommendations included in this plan. Key Questions • What is the potential for the arts in DeSoto? • How have like-sized communities developed their arts sectors? • What are some immediate steps the Commission can take to encourage greater public participation in the arts? • How might a strong arts community affirm DeSoto’s identity as a great American city? • What can the DeSoto Arts Commission do to increase the number of artists and arts organizations producing cultural programs in the city? • Where are the spaces and places that can invite the public to see that the arts are readily available to audiences of all ages? Responses to these questions have led to some exciting new ways to “Imagine DeSoto!”

Margie Johnson Reese, Principal MJR Partners


Context American cities are working to create expanded opportunities for residents to experience the arts as a part their everyday lives. The recent interruption of arts programs due to the onset of


COVID-19 will have a long-term effect on how audiences participate in arts activities. This reality makes it more important to project new ways of servicing the public’s interest in the arts. Moving toward the end of 2020, and still in an unresolved pandemic, civic leaders are making the necessary adjustments to provide meaningful responses to the isolation and disconnectedness that their residents are grappling with. We applaud the City of Desoto and its Arts Commission for taking the time to consider the role the arts can play in supporting the interests, needs and aspirations of this community. The City ’ s 2015 Strategic Plan refers to quality of life as the “attributes or amenities that combine to make an area a good place to live.” This planning process offered the chance to investigate how arts, culture and creativity can be a more visible component of civic life in DeSoto. "An advanced civilization must not limit its e ff orts to science and technology alone, but must give full value and support to the other great branches of scholarly and cultural activity in order to achieve a better understanding of the past, a better analysis of the present, and a better view of the future.” ~ National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities Act of l965 Background In November 1997, the DeSoto City Council passed an ordinance establishing the DeSoto Arts Commission as an advisory body to the City Council. The seven-member City-Council-appointed body oversees the Cultural Arts Grant process and makes recommendations to the City Council. The arts grants process is funded by a portion of receipts from Hotel Occupancy Tax in accordance with the State of Texas Tax Code and underwrites citywide cultural events, which have generated consistent and reliable arts programs for the public. Recommendations presented in this document challenge the City to examine its current methods of allocating arts dollars and proposes strategic approaches to realizing the Arts Commission ’ s vision to “make DeSoto the epicenter of the arts in the Best Southwest Region - DeSoto, Lancaster, Duncanville and Cedar Hill, Texas.”


The arts are fundamental to our humanity. They ennoble and inspire us— fostering creativity, goodness, and beauty. The arts bring us joy, help us express our values, and build bridges between cultures. The arts are also a fundamental component of a healthy community—strengthening them socially, educat ional ly, and economical ly— benefits that persist even in difficult social and economic times.

10 Reasons to Support the Arts

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9.

Arts improve individual well-being.

Arts unify communities.

Arts improve academic performance.

Arts strengthen the economy.

Arts drive tourism and revenue to local businesses.

Arts spark creativity and innovation.

Arts drive the creative industries.

Arts have social impact.

Arts improve healthcare. 10. Arts for the health and well-being of our military.


Establishing Value for the Arts in DeSoto

Imagine. DeSoto, TX

A recent poll conducted by Americans for the Arts found that “Americans are highly engaged in the arts and believe more strongly than ever that the arts promote personal well-being, help us understand other cultures in our community, are essential to a well- rounded K-12 education, and that government has an important role in funding the arts.” 1 While city leaders acknowledge that money spent on the arts in DeSoto is vital to stimulating ongoing growth of the city, it is important for tax payers to feel assured that investing in the arts is an investment in the lives of residents. Conveying these tangible benefits will require constant and relevant communication with the public, offering many points of entry for active engagement. DeSoto citizens represent lifelong residents and newcomers who now call DeSoto home. To gain public trust, the City must demonstrate how the arts have direct and positive impacts on individuals and families.

When public spaces are vibrant and reflect the life of a community, arts, culture and creativity are among its most powerful assets. They distinguish each community and allow residents to better understand and celebrate the uniqueness of their shared experiences. Arts, culture and creativity are competitive tools. They add value to our lives by strengthening the economy, supporting workforce development, increasing options for education and youth development, incentivizing redevelopment, increasing and elevating cultural equity. Now more than ever, the City through its Arts Commission, can provide a variety of ways to demonstrate and measure how “the arts bring value to a community.” As elected officials look ahead at budget limitations and increased demands for civic resources, continued arts funding will depend on strong leadership and visible advocacy for the arts.



The planning process solicited input from over 200 individuals; reviewed existing City plans; and gathered data from online surveys. The process also included an extensive investigation of existing arts programs, procedures and a review of data related to funding, audience participation and public engagement in the arts. Finally, a review of the City’s most recent Comprehensive Plan, a draft of the City of DeSoto Youth Master Plan and other related materials provided important background knowledge for developing strategic and innovative goals. Concurrently, MJR Partners team members toured the city in order to experience and better understand current and potential sites for future arts and cultural programs. Two specific underutilized spaces stood out: the Black Box Theatre (often referred to fondly by residents) and the historic Nance Farm.

One-on-one interactions with city department leaders from the Library, Public Works, Parks and Recreation, and Economic Development departments focused on potential collaborations for commissioning public art projects in the city.


The Youth Master Plan, currently being finalized by the Parks and Recreation Department, promises to amplify the voices of the city’s young people and will inform the ways that the arts might serve as a responder to their ideas. It is highly recommended that the Arts Commission be briefed on the Youth Arts Plan as it becomes available to determine opportunities for collaboration. A Town Hall meeting early in the process invited residents to participate in a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis of the arts in DeSoto. Participants were prompted to explore opportunities related to increasing the range of arts and culture services provided for the city’s growing and dynamic population. Citizen Thought Leaders, chaired by Rolanda Brigham, contributed valuable direction-setting during the period of inquiry.



The Arts Commission Chair appointed a Task Force to focus on the structural and operational procedures of the Commission. The Task Force participated in four virtual work sessions that allowed them to research and discuss the following topics:

• Presenting vs. producing arts programs • Understanding state and national public funding opportunities • Public aesthetics/art in public spaces • Arts learning for multi-generational audiences

These sessions led to an examination of current practices of the Commission and pointed to new ways of work that could advance the vision and values of the Arts Commission. Discoveries from initial research, survey results, findings from a review of background materials and learnings from the work of the Task Force were shared with the Arts Commission for their consideration. Review of Comparable North Texas Cities Although DeSoto is by population smaller than many North Texas cities with a history of supporting the arts, its practices and infrastructure are on par with cultural systems in larger regional suburban cities. The cities chosen as comparison cities for this study, show a range of structures – from all-volunteer agencies to facility managers with fully staffed city departments. An examination of the selected comparison cities offers background information for further developing the cultural system in DeSoto. (Appendix A) Case Study Wichita Falls, Texas, was identified as a nearby case-study city, where recent intentional arts planning and investment in the arts continue to generate visible impact. An in-person trip to visit Wichita Falls was unfortunately cancelled as the COVID-19 pandemic posed a risk to travelers. However, the Arts Commission and city leaders were able to engage in a video-meeting with grants review panel members, funders and staff of the Wichita Falls Alliance for Arts and Culture. The virtual visit focused on grant review procedures, private philanthropy and showcased examples of community-based public art projects. (Appendix B)


Emerging Themes DeSoto residents were asked to respond to a series of questions that would give insight into their understanding of “culture.” This understanding is important in the process of making recommendations for a cultural plan. For the purposes of this plan, DeSoto residents considered that culture includes traditions, historical resources, new digital forms of art making, craftsmanship and arts activities presented by student groups and multi-generational audiences.

photos from MJR partners Imagine DeSoto spring community engagement meeting


A sampling of what we heard from the public regarding preferred goals for an Arts and Cultural Plan (Additional public responses found in Appendix C)

stimulate collaboration with surrounding cities

maintain the “Small Town

restore the black box Theater as a designated space for producing/presenting live theater build on the natural beauty of the DeSoto landscape to make the city more walkable help establish and identify opportunities for using DeSoto’s parks and open spaces for displaying art

Vibe” of DeSoto

the arts should represent the “soul of the city” and to create a new identity for the city

look for ways to make the city’s funding process more transparent

consider ways to encourage formalized arts learning and engagement with children and senior audiences

improve communications about cultural activities happening in the City


Imagine. DeSoto, TX

THE PLAN The goals for Imagine Desoto, as outlined in this document, are intended to build on one another. They present an approach that argues for flexibility, managed risk and bold thinking. Each goal should be considered as a suggestion for actions that can be accomplished on varying timelines, with multiple civic and private sector partners, but with intentionality to affect real change. DeSoto has enormous potential for capitalizing on the resources available in the surrounding cities. It is also poised to recruit and retain artists who can bring new energy and can influence a new look and feel to community growth. As the City continues to consider implementation of larger planning and development initiatives, the arts can play a significant role in the activation of spaces, recruiting new businesses to the city and creating new landmarks that create a civic identity














1 The consideration of creating a cultural plan for the City of DeSoto has not only uncovered opportunities for growing the expanding quantity and quality of arts experiences offered in the city but also has presented structural challenges that, once addressed, will allow the City to achieve its goals for advancing the arts. These challenges are not unlike those found in other cities where the goal to move from a program -based commitment to the arts toward a policy- based approach appears to undermine the progress that has already been achieved in this area. In DeSoto, the program -based approach has been met with a welcoming response from the community, and over time, the consistency of arts programs is considered an asset by residents. Growing the arts sector, however, will mean investing in people (volunteers leadership, artists and arts patrons). Work sessions with current Arts Commissioners revealed opportunities for developing a stronger Arts Commission to provide increased guidance for advancing the arts in DeSoto. OBSERVATIONS • While the staff overseeing the City’s arts and culture programs has demonstrated strong stewardship of resources, the City would benefit from hiring a professional Arts Administrator with the necessary background and experience to focus attention on the goals of this plan. • In order to move beyond the current focus on grant-making, the City should charge the Arts Commission with developing a shared vision and guiding principles for catalyzing and growing the arts sector in DeSoto. These principles should be reviewed and approved by the City Council on a regular basis. • Arts Commission Members are steeped in the grant-making process, responding to funding requests as presented by non-profit organizations. As a group, Commissioners should see themselves as visionaries or “cultural procurement officers” on behalf of the residents. • Commission Members and Thought Leaders expressed interest in becoming more knowledgeable about ways to broaden public access to the City’s arts resources. • Identifying DeSoto based artists should be a priority. INVEST IN PEOPLE



Recruit and hire a full-time Cultural Programs Manager and a part-time Technical/Productions Coordinator; and support professional development for Arts Commissioners.

STRATEGIES 1. Create job descriptions for use in recruiting and hiring a Cultural Programs Manager and a Technical/Productions Coordinator. (sample job descriptions included in Appendix D) 2. Make available a series of training activities for Commissioners to recognize and acknowledge best practices in arts administration from a policy perspective. For example, an annual visioning retreat facilitated by an outside arts administrator could help Commission members plan for the year ahead and review successes of the prior year. 3. Provide opportunities for Commission members to participate as panelists for other city and/or state grant review processes. 4. Review annually the goals of the City’s comprehensive plan with Commission members as a way to signal the role of the arts in achieving citywide goals. 5. Offer and fund opportunities for Commission members to participate in regional and national arts conferences and workshops. 6. Designate a percentage of available funds to secure memberships in regional, statewide or national arts service organizations. (e.g., Texas Accountants and Lawyers for the Arts, Texas Non-profit Theatre Association, Texans for the Arts) 7. Develop and publish Guiding Principles that set directions for meeting the current and future cultural needs of residents, artists and visitors. (example guiding principles included in Appendix E)



INVEST IN ARTISTS Develop Nance Farm as a Cultural Hub

A community that respects its history respects itself. The preservation of that history through the preservation of sites is important to help a community realize its strengths and use them to educate new generations of residents about the origin stories of their community. Historic sites can also be incubators for arts innovation. An intentional look at the Nance Farm is a high-value response to the call for creating and maintaining distinguishing elements in the city. Suburban sprawl and roadside development make DeSoto and its neighboring cities “look” the same. Nance Farm and its striking historic buildings can help add depth to the story of DeSoto, call attention to the city’s history and contribute to community pride. The site has enormous potential for being a location for enhancing student learning in the areas of social studies; and the sciences can situate DeSoto as a heritage tourism destination. STRATEGIES 1. Review the Nance Farm Master Plan to determine current needs of the site. (Nance Farm Master Plan Appendix F) 2. Retrofit Nance Farm to serve as the office location for the proposed Cultural Programs Manager. 3. Preserve the historic integrity of the buildings on the site and develop a programming plan that offers a range of cultural activities (i. e., artists-in-residence opportunities, arts classes, exhibitions and public tours). Additional staffing support for operating the site could be provided by existing Park Department staff, volunteers, interns and members of the historic preservation community. CASE STUDY An interesting example of the potential for the Nance Farm can be considered against the success of The Arts Barn, an adaptive re-use project in Gaithersburg, Maryland. The Arts Barn is a beautifully renovated stable that once housed horses on a private family estate. Today, the Arts Barn is part of Arts on the Green, the City’s home for visual and performing arts. In addition to a 99-seat theater, the Arts Barn offers rotating art exhibits, artists-in-residence studios, a gift shop featuring artist-made items and an active schedule of visual and performing arts classes, workshops and camps for children and adults.


above - Nance Farm Main House; below - Red Barn at Nance Farm Facing West (photo: city of DeSoto




OBSERVATIONS The City of DeSoto has a strong history of presenting cultural programs for the public and has consistently provided grants to applicants soliciting funding to produce arts activities. Compared to suburban Texas cities of like-size, DeSoto’s arts funding commitment is strong. Given the uncertainty of the effects of COVID-19 on Hotel Occupancy Tax receipts in the coming years, area cities have already begun to limit the number and size of city-produced arts programs. Likewise, City governments have reduced the amount of funds projected to be available for arts grant-making through 2022. The next two years offers the City of DeSoto new opportunities for allocating anticipated arts dollars to focus on building the sector, attracting artists to work in DeSoto and reshaping the policies and practices associated with grant-making. The recommendations that follow may be viewed as temporary measures that could lead to new ways of doing business for the Arts Commission and open new opportunities for experimental service delivery models.

Local Arts Agency Model

Guardians of the public trust

Grant makers and grant seekers

Advocates for the arts

DeSoto Arts Commission

Guides process for aesthetics to the city

Provides space for people to gather



Revise and publish new grant guidelines that devote special attention to nurturing and developing DeSoto- based artists and arts organizations.

STRATEGIES 1. Require all applicants seeking City grant funding to participate in management and technical assistance workshops provided by the City. These may include grant writing, non-profit board development, budget planning, arts marketing and non-profit organizational management and program evaluation workshops. 2. Encourage and give priority to grant requests that feature collaborations between artists, civic organizations, other City agencies and private enterprise. 3. Incentivize programming presented in neighborhood locations by providing additional stipends for facility use, technology grants and other hard costs associated with broadening public access to the arts. 4. Devote special attention to fund requests that engage children in sequential arts learning experiences. 5. Review current grant-making process to allow for increased public participation in the grants review process. 6. Establish grant review panels composed of 50% Arts Commission members and 50% citizen reviewers. Provide orientation sessions for all panel reviewers. 7. Establish bi-annual grant deadlines (fall and spring) and provide online grant application and reporting systems. Consider consulting with regional arts resource agencies on best practices for creating an online grant application system for DeSoto. 8. Designate a percentage of annual funding available for the arts that would be restricted for citywide initiatives. 9. Require a dollar-for-dollar or in-kind match of City funds for cultural grants awarded by the City. City funding should not exceed 50% of the project budget.




Build a Corps of Artists for DeSoto

Identify a cohort of mid-career artists through an application process to engage in a year-long arts management training program – The DeSoto Artists Lab. 2 Participants for this experimental, 10-month learning opportunity would commit to monthly learning activities, strengthen their arts management skills, develop arts programs for the public and work in tandem with the Arts Commission to develop arts programs that align with the Commission’s vision for the arts in the city. Participants in the Artists Lab will receive a stipend for their participation and a one-year membership to Americans for the Arts allowing them to build a national network of their peers. The DeSoto Artists Lab roster (six to eight participants) should consist of no more than 50% out-of-city artists and include artists working in the visual and performing arts disciplines. STRATEGIES

1. Hire a Project Manager to design a curriculum for the cohort. 2. Identify funding from city, state and private sector sources.

CASE STUDY The Community Arts Training (CAT) Institute is an innovative program offered by the St. Louis Regional Arts Commission. The CAT Institute provides professional development, workshops and networking opportunities for a limited cohort group. Since its inception, the CAT Institute has trained over 400 artists of all disciplines. The CAT Institute alumni continue to create relevant, impactful arts programs that are facilitated in a variety of settings, including neighborhood organizations, social service agencies, churches and schools, as well as development initiatives. CAT Institute alumni create a powerful network of creative leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs, all focused on building a stronger, more vibrant St. Louis.

2 Case Study II – THRIVE, a program of the Nashville Metro Art’s Commission designed to build, strengthen and cultivate communities in Nashville and Davidson County by supporting artist-led projects that encourage: artistic and cultural experiences, community investment, neighborhood transformation.


21 Top: Detroit Artists' Test Lab lounge, Detroit Michigan (photo via; Bottom: Community Arts Training Institute of St. Louis Artist 2017 Cohort, St. Louis, Missouri (photo by Sara Wilson)


MAKE SOME NOISE! Design and implement diverse media communication methods that broadly disseminate information regarding the city’s arts, cultural and heritage resources.

OBSERVATIONS Serving citizens at a high level has always been a foremost priority for local government. Through the public engagement phase of this planning process, residents asked for greater transparency regarding the grants allocation process and more timely and frequent communications about arts activities. When it comes to the arts, public information is as much about actual program schedules and locations as it is about educating larger numbers of residents about the “why’s” of public investment in the arts. If cities don’t get the communication aspect right, residents will make their own assumptions and question the arts as a public activity limited to only a select population. A strong and ongoing system of communications with the public also helps set directions for the arts and encourages participation. For residents who question the allocation of public resources for the arts, it is important to provide data that connects to the economic impact of the arts, as well as frequent demonstrations of how the arts support a broad constituency – parents, educators, business owners and community builders. Contemporary and relevant communications plans should focus on four key areas: 1. INSIGHT – Give the public multiple ways to see how the arts can be a meaningful part of their everyday lives. 2. IDEAS – Solicit input from the public to better inform arts policy. 3. IMPLEMENTATION – Being situated alongside strong cultural centers of Dallas and Fort Worth, requires creative strategies for making DeSoto's arts activities take center stage within neighborhoods - making the arts visible in unexpected places. 4. IMPACT – An annual report on the arts, digital and in print, will help residents see how the sector is growing and how the arts underscore the city’s goals for development.



RECOMMENDATION Allocate funding to specifically implement Public Information and Communications strategies for promoting the arts as a core civic investment.

STRATEGIES 1. Hire a marketing professional/team to develop and implement new communications strategies that promote the arts in DeSoto. 2. Enlist the support of the Chamber of Commerce and/or the Convention and Visitors Bureau to embed messages about the arts in DeSoto in all marketing materials. 3. Canvas City departments to learn how they provide public information and share costs associated with joint messaging. 4. Acquire, learn and leverage the latest tools, technology and purposeful relationships with local, regional and national media and social media influences to track current communication trends. 5. Increase the use of the city’s PEG system to share arts experiences with students and their parents. 6. Update and create consistency of the look and feel of all web sites associated with the arts in DeSoto.




Create a buzz around “ Imagine DeSoto! ” Artist-Led Media Campaign!

Invest in a campaign that engages artists, cultural producers, other creatives and public relations experts to package a messaging strategy that reaches across local, regional, national and virtual communities. Designing and launching a themed marketing campaign branded as “ Imagine DeSoto ” should be a suite of fun, cohesive and compelling messages that signal a shift in the City.

Examples for “Imagine DeSoto” campaign ideas • What do you see? Commission area photographers to create photo exhibitions of the hidden gems (people, nature, activities) in DeSoto. Exhibitions can be displayed virtually and/or in public spaces. • Mayor’s Poetry Award – Organize a festival of poems written by any and everyone in the city and make those poems available in public spaces and through various forms of digital media. April is National Poetry Month, a great opportunity to challenge residents to write a poem about DeSoto and compete for the Mayor’s Poetry Award! • Pop up Sculpture Garden – Cities are partnering with artists and arts organizations to present outdoor arts activities – many of them drive-thru experiences. Consider offering a stipend to artists for the opportunity to showcase their sculpture in a City of DeSoto public park. (Anticipated costs: Stipends to artists range from $1,000 to $2,000, insurance for the art, plus a curator’s fee up to $5,000 to assemble and organize the pop-up experience.) Artwork could rotate to offer two different exhibitions each year. Parallel student exhibitions could be organized in area schools.


Top Left: Palm Desert, CA El Paseo sculpture drive, Topiaries by Christie Beniston (photo courtesy of the artist); Top Right: “Rain Poetry,” Columbia South Carolina; Bottom: Murals of La Jolla, CA (rotating mural) Playing La Jolla (for all it's worth) digital photograph 2015, Terry Allen (photo courtesy



ACTIVATE PUBLIC SPACES “Cities gain value through public art – cultural, social, and economic value. Public art is a distinguishing part of our public history and our evolving culture. It reflects and reveals our society, adds meaning to our cities and uniqueness to our communities. Public art humanizes the built environment and invigorates public spaces. It provides an intersection between past, present and future, between disciplines and between ideas. Public art is freely accessible.” 3

Grauwyler dinasaur

MARISA THE MAGICAL BIRD by Kim Emerson,T.J. Dixon and Jim Nelson, Rady Children’s Hospital, San Diego (photo via)




RECOMMENDATION Establish sanctioned practices for implementing an Art in Public Places program.

STRATEGIES 1. Create Artistic Design Standards (Standards) to provide aesthetic guidance to influence future development, construction projects, and existing places for integrating art projects and placing artwork on City-owned property. The Standards are tools that set artistic expectations for City projects. They are intended to provide inspirational points of reference and are not intended to be technical specifications. Elements such as lighting, pavement, building cladding, external support structures, railings, awning, wayfinding and more are consistently part of building packages that could benefit from collaborative input from artists, especially when they are included as a part of the design team. 2. Develop a Site and Opportunity Plan (Plan) that sets a strategic vision for art projects to be a part of the visioning and planning phases of City-driven construction projects. In collaboration with City departments, such as Parks and Recreation and Development Services, draft a two to five-year plan that sites art opportunities, allocates funds and prioritizes strategic methods for placing and integrating art projects. Opportunities within the Plan should reference the Standards. Early artistic consideration, with a focus on experience and impact, maximizes aesthetic and experiential aspects. This approach creates an expectation for integrating thoughts, ideas and ideologies into design standards and the physical design of each place or construction project. Early planning creates a practice of maintaining an intentional effort to integrate projects that are site-specific and site- responsive and enhances the overall development design. The City’s Agreement with the Wildwood Public Improvement Development (in progress) establishes a precedent for the Developer ”to fund improvements to other City Park and cultural facilities, including public art…) This, along with the Hampton Road Corridor Redevelopment Plan present ready opportunities for implementing these strategies.

Hampton Road Corridor Redevelopment Plan




Create Community Experiences

Commission a series of (permanent or temporary) art projects to be exhibited outdoors as a way to increase public interest and participation in experiences with art in public places (within the next 12 to 18 months). This idea recognizes the importance of providing residents and visitors access to quality artistic experiences in the public sphere. The artwork could function to bring attention to prevailing social issues, elevate public interest and create a sense of pride for the city. Projects might also serve as creative and experiential approaches to developing wayfinding systems for navigating the City. An added benefit of these pilot projects is the opportunity to assemble selection panels that involve young people as peers among adult residents.

Temporary Installation, Market Street Festival, San Francisco (photo by Constance Y. White)


Top Left: “Painting a Healthy City” paint day.(photo by Steve Weinik); (remaining photos by Constance Y. White) Top Right: Lansing Michigan, painted piano project; Bottom Left: New York City, NY ‘anonymous immigrants who arrive everyday’ (150 feet) long by street artist JR (image via; Bottom Right: Temporary Installation, Tag Tunnel, Market Street Festival, San Francisco.




The Arts Commission has an opportunity to plan for celebrating the 25 th anniversary of the arts in the city. Looking ahead to the year 2022, a special Task Force should be appointed by the Mayor and Arts Commission Chair to consider working with major cultural institutions in the metroplex and co-create a schedule of cultural programs. The 2022 Cultural Celebration could take a number of directions, based on what the Task Force learns from area arts presenters and perhaps neighboring city partners.

As the work of the Task Force moves forward, the right “Big Idea” will emerge.



RECOMMENDATION Appoint a 2022 Cultural Celebration task force to begin exploring possible regional and national collaborations.

STRATEGIES 1. Expand the 2022 Cultural Celebration task force as necessary to contribute to developing a bold and comprehensive vision for the citywide celebration of the arts. 2. Invite speakers, cultural and arts leaders from nearby cities to share the vision of the 2022 Cultural Celebration and identify potential partnership opportunities. 3. Investigate and learn from successes and challenges of citywide cultural celebrations launched in other communities. 4. Involve leaders from area public and private school districts as members of the task force to help identify potential opportunities for student involvement. 5. Following a period of discovery, clarify and determine the extent to which city leaders, the private sector, school officials and other community members (at all levels of interest) will play a role in creating a citywide cultural celebration. 6. No later than November 2021, the Task Force should present findings and a proposed work plan to the City Manager and the City Council. The plan should outline the human and financial resources needed to present the DeSoto 2022 Cultural Celebration. 7. Identify and approach potential private sector funders to support the proposed Cultural Celebration.



Appendix A – Desoto Arts Plan Comparison Cities Coppell Irving

Flower Mound

Grapevine Denton

Wichita Falls





242,242 57,834

142,173 104,553


Non-profit membership organizaJon. 9-member

City agency Advisory council appointed by Town Council 6 members serve 2-year terms Director of Libraries staff liaison to Arts Commission

City agency 11-member Board/ Council appointed

No Local Arts Agency Self-elected board Arts Council Northeast

Non-profit agency

Non-profit agency MOU with City, 13-member

City staff 7-member Commission Council appointed

Governance Structure

Board of Directors

Board of Directors

Board of Directors

City Staff


ExecuJve Director 15 Staff


ExecuJve Director 5 Staff

ExecuJve Director 5 Staff

Community RelaJons Mgr Contracted support

Budget for the Arts

$41,000 $6.4m $450,000 $2.2m $453,000

Info unavailable Producer Partnership among 5 designated arts organizaJons Coppell Chamber of Commerce


Grant maker

Grant maker

Producer/ Presenter

Grant maker

Grant maker Presenter

Grant maker Producer Presenter

Grant maker

Producer Presenter

Presenter, Art Center Managers Irving ConvenJon & Visitors Bureau

Producer Presenter

Producer Presenter


Grapevine ConvenJon & Visitors Bureau

CVB/ Tourism agency




Public Art Program Youth Arts programs City owned/ Designated arts facili










Year-round & grants to orgs. Irving Arts Center City owned mulJ use



Arts Camps

Parks and RecreaJon

Under const. $20m budget hdps:// www.coppell artscenter.or ghistory


Historic theater/ movie house hdps://

City owned operated by Arts Council hdps:// dentonarts. com/ paderson- appleton- arts-center

Memorial Auditorium www.wichitafal

Outdoor Amphitheater Black Box (managed by Parks Dept.)

complex hdps://

www.grapev inetexasusa. com/palace- theatre/ venue- informaJon/

www.irving artscenter.c om/


Appendix B – Wichita Falls Case Study

The Wichita Falls Alliance for Arts and Culture (The Alliance) is the designated arts grant-making agency for the City of Wichita Falls. Applications are received once a year, prior to the City’s Budget Planning Process Grants Program Overview Eligibility Requirements. 1. The Wichita Falls Alliance for Arts and Culture accepts applications from 501(c)3 organizations that have arts and cultural programming at the core of their mission. Grants are not made to individuals. Individual Artists are encouraged to partner with eligible organizations to create new work, present projects or develop activities under the Innovation Grant program. 2. Applications are only accepted from 501(c)3 organizations. 3. Youth service organizations are only eligible to submit applications in the Innovation category. 4. Applicants must be based in Wichita Falls and are required to demonstrate a one-to-one match for all dollars awarded through this process. 5. Grantees will be required to submit a final report at the end of the project year. Failure to comply with this requirement will deem grantees ineligible for future funding. Evaluation: Through a competitive peer panel review process, support is awarded for projects that are designed to increase tourism, serve as a catalyst for economic growth, and encourage public participation in arts and cultural activities. Panel recommended are forwarded to the City Council by the Board of Directors of the Arts Alliance for final approval. Applications must be submitted to The Alliance through its online portal . Mailed or hand-delivered applications will not be accepted. Organizations may submit additional relevant support materials via mail or hand deliver to The Alliance office. Goals and Priorities The Alliance, has four primary funding goals and priorities for arts and culture grants: 1. Provide support to arts and culture projects and programs that stimulate audience growth and encourage participation in the arts by residents and visitors to our city; 2. Strengthen the organizational capacity of artists and arts organizations in an effort to offer high quality, innovative and diverse programming for the public; 3. Encourage collaborations and partnerships between arts organizations and/or non-arts public service organizations; 4. Preserve and promote the history, culture, and traditions of Wichita Falls.


Appendix C – Public Responses

O OPPORTUNITIES T THREATS Aggregated from community engagement meeting





City has a strong and active Arts Commission

cultural events free or a ff ordable

entertainment endeavors

small town vibe

many established musicians play DeSoto

the City’s e ff orts to identify needs

good attendance at DeSoto’s cultural events

new corporate o ffi ces

access to Kathy

Fourth Friday events

low, stable tax rates - good for business

variety of public events

location of the city WHO NEEDS TO BE INVOLVED? Sororities and Fraternities Music teachers for children (classes) Healthcare facilities DeSoto ISD Mentorship programs Parents Charter Schools Churches Desoto Police Senior Communities All government departments Local artists (all ages) Dance and acting teachers (classes)


Appendix C – Public Responses

Aggregated from community engagement meeting





W public information is not e ff ective W wayfinding and signage W transparency of funding opportunities for local non-profits W inability to get clear answers from city hall operators. They pass the buck. W no theatre W little collaboration, city departments, public/private, artists and audiences, surrounding cities W variety of programming W lack of diverse the culture and humanities programs W tell all that is available in the city to new people that move here even if it is o ff season W no clear city identity W exposure for what is going on W marketing/communication/advertisement strategy/plan W too few professional artists W lack of collaboration with surrounding cities W no local arts newsletter W same artists all of the time, in the spot light QUESTIONS Where is the funding coming from? What’s going to happen with the theater? How do we get access to a ff ordable space in DeSoto to facilitate “Professional Development Workshops?”


Appendix C – Public Responses

Aggregated from community engagement meeting





keep them all

the black box theatre


attract a ffl uent influences to our future


opportunities to diversity: arts & culture, cuisine


O parks and open spaces to display local art sculptures O DeSoto needs variety - unique is good O arts/music programs for early education (toddlers & kids) O imagine arts being not just painting and music. Imagine culture, hair, food, fashion… O gra ffi ti art outlet, like Deep Ellum has - can change it out annually & make a picture calendar O unspoken word theatre for kids O attract a ffl uent influences to our future O getting the theater back on tract O ethnic variety in entertainment and dining O starting cultural clubs i.e. Caribbean, German, Italian clubs and events O use zoom webinar so attendees can contribute & attend remotely O managing director w/arts & performance background & experience on sta ff to manage , create shows/events O comedy clubs O parks & open spaces to display local art sculptures O creating a DeSoto theater school/group O build on our natural beauty (parks) to make our city walkable O public art for kids/teens in spring - like a Spring Fling IDEAS box for anonymous comments and for leaving business cards create an information board/resource board for non-profits and independent artists and for parents looking for programs for their children

facility dedicated to cultivate youth arts programming access-access professional development workshops for DeSoto-based non-profits have local artists exhibit their work, provide free lessons; allow community to see work-in-progress


Appendix C – Public Responses

Aggregated from community engagement meeting





the lack of diversity in cultural events


same artists


no dedicated arts venues limited capacity vendors



T competition from cedar hill convention center’s arts/events T neighboring communities are pulling away from DeSoto T indi ff erence T exclusive T lack of adequate parking T neighboring cities allowing easier access for facilities usage T no access to black box theatre T arts growth in neighboring communities T lack of local patronize T competition from Cedar Hill and Duncanville convention centers CONCERNS

Too many store fronts (non-tax paying entities) Not enough arts-based funding opportunities Is there a budget to pay artists/bands? Not enough diversity in arts venues



Cultural Programs Manager

Reporting to the City Manager, the role of the Cultural Programs Manager is to provide the vision and strategy for the City of DeSoto to ensure that residents and visitors to the city have access to a thriving cultural sector that enhances the quality of life and supports the economic vibrancy of the city. The Manager of Cultural Programs is responsible for providing vision to implement the City’s Art and Culture Master Plan. The position nurtures and helps assure art, music, dance and celebratory events in DeSoto respond to the needs and interests of the resident community, are made available to residents and continue to flourish, while also being preserved and promoted outside the lands in which they originated. The success of the Cultural Programs unit plays a vital part in the city’s efforts to strengthen the arts sector.


The Cultural Programs Manager works extensively with artists and community groups, individually and as a coalition, to support the development and advancement of cultural programming. This includes planning signature programs with the advisement of the City Manager and Arts Commission. The position provides public engagement and guidance to communities on leadership, creative direction, scheduling, budgeting, production, cultural organization development and future growth. The Manager of Cultural Programs also manages grant programs, identifies and leverages community resources and provides advice on fundraising and partnership development. A successful candidate will demonstrate a sincere appreciation of all forms of cultural expression, recognizing the value of engaging the public in the performing and visual arts. The Cultural Programs Manager also works closely with appropriate city departments and private sector partners to market and promote a schedule of arts activities that accommodates and balances multiple needs, interests and goals of many programs and events in the city. This position will contribute to the creation of marketing and communication content for the events produced and funded by the city. The Cultural Programs Manager manages a budget and a small staff of regular and contract employees.


Required Knowledge, Skills and Abilities: • Confirmed work history relative to the tasks of the position or bachelor’s degree (preferably in Arts/Business Administration, Public Administration, the Fine Arts) • Three years of work in public programming, event planning and/or production. • Possess the ability to organize and manage multiple events simultaneously. • Relational skills are equally as important as technical skills. • Demonstrated cultural competency, as well as the ability to foster relationships and collaborate with a broad spectrum of people, including volunteers. • Strong oral and written communication skills



Production Coordinator/Technical Specialist

The Production Coordinator/Technical Specialist has the responsibility for the technical operations of a theatre or performing arts center, including lighting, sound, set design and construction, and coordinating necessary maintenance. He or she works with a great deal of independence and exercises independent judgment in performing a wide variety of duties. Because of the operating hours of most facilities, close supervision is not normally required nor expected.

In general, the Production Coordinator/Technical Specialist may do any or all of the following:

• Operate, maintain and safeguard the technical assets of the theatre, including supervising the use of lighting, sound, and communications equipment and the maintenance of stage facilities. • Determines the necessary technical supports, such as lighting, sound, staging and special needs, necessary for events and performances presented at the facility in advance of production dates. • Designs, sets up, maintains and operates lighting and sound systems for theatre, dance, music and other productions and projects; assists guest designers and arts events with technical matters. • Advises production managers, lighting and sound designers on the technical specifications, costs and usage of technical equipment required for the individual show and supervises the implementations of approved technical designs.

• Supervises and assists with set and stage construction and management.

• Assists in recruiting, training and assignment of volunteer or paid technical staff, as needed.

• Orients facility renters and visiting productions to safety, technical characteristics and other areas of facility operations; facilitates the use of the technical facilities by the resident company and others. • Monitors the condition of equipment, including lighting, sound and rigging equipment; arranges for repair and replacement within budgetary constraints; performs preventive maintenance on equipment. • Assists with the preparation and control of production budgets; maintains inventory and orders specialized supplies.

• Makes recommendations regarding capital purchases of technical equipment.


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