Saturday, September 14, 2013

Social Cause of Arts District Isolation

I commented on the Dallas Morning News' column from the architecture critic, Mark Lamster in the previous post. Today, I want to post a link about another, quite a bit more major, blog's response to Lamster's piece.

In fact everything built since the museum has been based on guaranteeing patrons that they will never have to set foot on a public sidewalk when they come to visit. Hence, when you drive through the arts district on most days now it has a certain dystopian aura, as if somebody set off one of those bombs that incinerates all the people without harming the buildings. Otherwise known as the sun, in Dallas.

So is that about pretentiousness? Don't be silly. It's about avoiding black people. We talked about this in May when I was writing about an attempt by the performing arts center to shut out the one serious black cultural institution in the arts district, the Dallas Black Dance Theater.

I told you the whole arts district was inspired by a so-called consultant's study in 1977 finding that the art museum, then still in Fair Park in black South Dallas, was in "a poor location for a facility whose patrons came primarily from North Dallas."

Ahem. Say what? What could that possibly mean? Oh, gosh we don't know, do we? Well, we wouldn't want to say. In fact, for a big brash ostentatious zhay erra city like that one on TV, the cat's just got our tongue, don't it? We're just all knock-kneed squiggle-toes when it comes to why rich white people don't want to go to South Dallas.

I won't comment on this other than to say Jim Schutze, who wrote the Dallas Observer's response, is a published author on race relations. I generally find him to be well-researched when it comes to his stuff.

I bring this up because it illustrates just how difficult the planning process can be. How do you balance the wants and desires of becoming an urban area, with other, sometimes conflicting issues that have no quantifiable measurement? In this case, the desire of the creators of the Arts District to that of the social concerns of those who plan to use it?

If I ever seem overly critical of Dallas' urbanizing attempts, it is because I come from the ideal of what urban areas should be. In cases like this, it can complicate that ideal. Which one is right is purely a matter of opinion.

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