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Dallas City Performance Hall: Bringing the Arts of Dallas Together

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By Ashley Stainton

The Turtle Creek Chorale, a 225-voice strong men’s chorus, has performed all around the globe, including Berlin, Prague and New York’s Carnegie Hall.

The Metropolitan Winds, a nonprofit symphony, performs contemporary and symphonic band music throughout the Dallas area.

The Junior Players, a youth arts education program, is the oldest running children’s theater in Dallas.

“In the coming year, all of these arts’ groups will have one thing in common: They will hold performances at the new City Performance Hall in Dallas.”

The City Performance Hall, located in the Dallas Art’s District, will be completed in September 2012. Serving as a multidisciplinary center, it will cater to midsized cultural and arts groups from around the community.

The Turtle Creek Chorale, Metropolitan Winds and Junior Players are only a few of the companies already scheduled to hold some of their upcoming season at the new Hall.

“The importance of having a venue like this for us and other smaller groups is that we can sell out a crowd,” said David Fisher, executive director of the Turtle Creek Chorale. “For some of our programs, this is a more appropriate sized performance space,” he said. “It’s sometimes difficult to sell 2000 tickets for some one-night programs.”

The hall will have three theaters when it is completed. Two of the theaters will house 200 seats and the third will seat 750 people. The size of the theaters is much more compatible with Fisher’s group and others like his.

“The addition of the City Performance Hall will make this the 23rd facility that we are responsible for,” said Maria Muñoz-Blanco, Director of the City of Dallas’ Office of Cultural Affairs.

The Office of Cultural Affairs is a division of the City Manager’s Office, and is dedicated to bringing arts and cultural organizations to the citizens of Dallas. It oversees facilities including the Morton H. Myerson Symphony Center, the Latino Cultural Center and the Majestic Theater.

Some of the venues the office operates are overseen directly, while others are organized through private and public partnerships with various nonprofit organizations.

“The Hall will be operated like the Majestic Theater and Meyerson Center,” Muñoz-Blanco said. “The staff will operate the facility directly and rent the facility to arts groups.”

The Hall is 70 percent complete and is being built in two phases. The first phase is the larger, multi-level theater. The second phase will add the two additional smaller theaters, according to Muñoz-Blanco. The Hall is expected to open on time for the 2012 arts season, which typically begins between September and October.

“Everything has gone well with the construction,” Muñoz-Blanco said. “The pitfall moments have already passed.”
In summer 2012, visitors will be able to visit The Hall for free and be the first to experience performances in the new building. This will take place before any of the regularly scheduled shows begin. This is also a time for the crew and staff to make sure the theaters are suitable for future performances.

One of the features that will be tested includes the textured walls in the theaters, which are intended to make the acoustics and sound bounce off the walls.

“The beauty of having such a sophisticated venue like this to play at is it makes us sound great,” said Fisher, of the Turtle Creek Choral. “They put a lot of time and effort into making sure the theaters are excellent.”

The acoustics are not the only aspect that makes the hall an ideal place in which to perform. The architecture of the building, designed by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill LLP, an architectural and engineering firm based out of Chicago, is described as lyrical and elegant.

There is a large lobby with two levels that allow natural light to illuminate it during the day. The building itself is made up of linear pavilions with a curving, wave-like roofline. In addition to the theaters, there will be two classrooms for groups to rehearse in and a café for patrons.

A 2006 bond program provided the funding for the Hall. It is expected to cost $38 million when completed.
Ten organizations have booked some of their season at the Hall, and three groups are scheduled to hold their entire season there, including the Metropolitan Winds.

The Junior Players, who are hoping to perform their festival of plays at the hall during the 2012 holiday season, tout its central location as one of the reasons the new Hall will be a great venue at which to perform.
The Hall is located across the street from Booker T. Washington High School, on the southwest side of the intersection between Routh Street and Flora Street.

“It can bring all your patrons together, from north, south, east and west,” said Kirston James, executive director for The Junior Players.

Ashley Stainton is a junior at Southern Methodist University, majoring in Convergent Journalism and Psychology.

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