The Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) is asking for $85 million in taxpayer funds from the City of Dallas.
DMA representatives delivered a series of updates to the City Council Quality of Life, Arts, and Culture Committee during a Monday meeting, covering increased security measures and personnel additions, along with proposed renovations and expansions that will require additional funding.
While much of this funding will be covered by private donors, DMA Board of Trustees President Gowri Sharma said the organization will ask for the City of Dallas to borrow money on behalf of the museum through the 2024 public improvement bond referendum.
“The DMA will request public bond dollars for critical infrastructure needs of the existing complex, such as electrical, HVAC, security updates, and fire control,” she said, declining to specify how much funding they were asking for until questioned by council members.
“You kind of grazed through what your need’s going to be with the bond,” said Council Member Adam Bazaldua. “There’s no figures that were presented to us.”
Tamara Wootton Forsyth, the deputy director of the DMA, said the organization is in need of $85 million to maintain the museum facilities as they operate today.
Agustín Arteaga, the director of the DMA, said future expansions to the museum are estimated to cost about $190 million, but the museum plans to petition private donors for the remainder of those funds.
“We likely will” ask for $85 million in the public bond election, Arteaga said.
The entire bond capacity is planned to be $1 billion, of which
“I would like to see there be a bigger push for those private donors to come to the table,” said Bazaldua. “There’s only so much bond capacity.”
Council Member Omar Narvaez referred to the $85 million request as “a pipe dream.”
“Come back with a reasonable number that voters might actually be able to vote yes for,” he said. “$85 million is basically going to be impossible.”
“The voters want their streets, alleys, and sidewalks repaired first,” Narvaez continued, noting that the City has $8 billion in deferred infrastructure maintenance.
Narvaez said he supports allocating funds for arts and culture but emphasized that “one organization cannot suck up all the dollars.”
City Council members have been discussing what spending priorities should be included in next year’s bond, which will raise about $1 billion, despite the City already operating with a $4.5 billion annual budget.
If museum spending were pursued at the proposed level of $85 million, it would take up 8.5% of that $1 billion total.
Infrastructure and transportation improvements are consistently brought up as the most urgent needs in conversations about bond spending priorities.
City of Dallas voters will have the opportunity to weigh in on the municipality’s priorities when the bond election is held in May next year.
I think no money should be given to the DMA until they have a plan to make sure they don’t possess stolen art. What the Dallas Morning News had to say about the stolen Nepalese statue found in the DMA’s collection and what the people who found it and got the FBI to force them to return it are at great variance. The people working on getting the statue claimed they had to get the FBI involved. Also, the DMA hasn’t reviewed their collection or announced any plan to review their collection according to modern standards to discover other thefts.
$85 million?? Their request should be accompanied by an itemized list.
It would also be beneficial to get an up to date accounting of their current operational budget. Im sure there would be lots of
waste in the budget, primarily in administrative salaries.
I also raise my eyebrows at the request.
The bond marketplace is in a new era with higher interest rates.
I have reservations about borrowing money today with the hope of easy payback in the future.
If the economy takes a slide down for a long time period, then Dallas revenues will be lean.
THIS is why governments are in the RED! This is beyond incredible.
They should get ZERO!
Until there is transparency in the accounting….how about NO!
Forget it, They need to go to PRIVATE donors and get their money. The last time I went to a museum I could barely afford to pay the entrance fee.
If the PEOPLE pay for it then it needs to be FREE. IF the bonds are guaranteed by the people then they are paying for it. Can anyone explain how a museum will earn the money to pay the bond? By charging exorbitant admission fees. there is no other way.
Tell them to take a flying leap at a rolling donut.
There are plenty of rich people in Dallas that can take a tax break by giving money to the Museum. The city or population should not be paying for this.
Give them $20 million with the provision that Dallas county residents receive free admission and anyone over 55 receive free admission. Put Mark Cuban or Jerry Jones name on the new addition and one of them will chip in $50 million.