Dallas Voters Approve $75M in Arts Funding

Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson Speaks after polls close | Image by Mayor Eric L. Johnson/Twitter
Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson Speaks after polls close | Image by Mayor Eric L. Johnson/Twitter

Dallas voters approved a significant $75.2 million bond over the weekend to be used toward repairing several of the city’s most neglected arts facilities.

The largest portion of the bond will go to the Dallas Museum of Art, which is expected to receive $20 million for repairs, KERA reported.

“The DMA hasn’t gotten meaningful funds from a bond election in decades. The building is in dire need of security and mechanical and HVAC repairs. It’s for the basic stuff,” Jeff Ellerman, chairman of the board of trustees at the Dallas Museum of Art, said, per KERA. “It’s fantastic that the voters have spoken and agree with that.”

The City reports a backlog of $133 million worth of repairs and maintenance across its arts and culture facilities. While the bond won’t enable the city to tackle every project, many of the most urgent concerns can be addressed.

“No one wants naming rights for deferred maintenance,” Courtney Spellicy, District 9 committee member on the Streets and Transportation Subcommittee, told KERA. “You don’t want to throw your name up for the roofing or the waterproofing or some of those things like that. So some of those un-sexy projects are aspects that simply have to be done.”

Some projects that may be addressed include replacing rat-bitten carpet at the Winspear Opera House, HVAC at the South Dallas Cultural Center, electrical upgrades at The Latino Cultural Center, and roof repairs at the Dallas Black Dance Theatre.

The arts and culture facilities allocation is part of the larger $1.25 billion bond package that voters approved on Saturday, as reported by The Dallas Express.

“The people of Dallas said YES to public safety, YES to the basics, and YES to quality neighborhood parks tonight by supporting the 2024 Dallas Bond package. Thank you, Dallas, for supporting this meaningful investment in the future of our city!” posted Mayor Eric Johnson on social media just a couple hours after the polls closed.

Voters approved 10 bond measures in total. The bonds, which must be repaid over time, direct Dallas government spending to improve roads, improve public safety, modernize libraries, update parks and recreation areas, and reduce flooding issues. The money to repay the bonds comes from the City’s general obligation account, which is funded by property taxes.

As with the arts portion of the bond, the total bond won’t allow the City to undertake all of its desired projects, as District 12 Council Member Cara Mendelsohn previously explained while speaking at a February event attended by DX.

“We have over $17 billion of just infrastructure needs identified, but the bond we’re talking about is $1.25 billion,” she said. “So we’re not going to meet [all of] the needs. And honestly, most of the work that we need to be doing should be budgeted through our general fund.”

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