So Much Progress, So Few Local Artists

MainStreetGardenSpotforChristmasTree
(image from UnFair Park, the Dallas Observer blog)

Ah, I love being back in Dallas, Texas.  There are so many things going on in Dallas right now, from new construction, to art installations, to new construction with art installations implanted.  As a lighting designer in the DFW Metro, I am extremely excited to see the projects being put into play in the downtown scene come to fruition.

Case in point:  the new Main Street Garden, with lighting installations from New York light artist Leni Schwendinger and a very soon-to-be large Christmas tree designed by New York landscape designer Thomas Balsley.  After all, Dallas is a place that is growing and changing like the best of the cities in our great country.  We’re proud of Dallas.  We’ve got the big new AT&T Performing Arts Center to house some of the best work ever to be presented on stage, the Dallas Theatre Center and their ever-so-awesome seasons of life-changing theatre and works of genius, and a city so full of artists, designers, and other extremely creative people that it’s busting at its seams.

Since Dallas is full of people who love art, love light and lighting, and certainly love this city, why are the majority of the lighting designers and lighting artists chosen to do work on the city of Dallas from places like New York, Chicago, or LA?

When it comes to lighting the city of Dallas itself, why aren’t local companies and local lighting artists chosen?  Does the fact that a designer or artist lives in Dallas make that person exempt from creating “good” art?  Believe me – there are people right here in the Dallas area who have ideas and design talents just as good as those from any other “big” city.

I’m certainly not naive, don’t get me wrong – with regional theatre companies like Dallas Theatre Center, it can be impossible to light a show there if you’re not from New York, LA, or Chicago.  I guess it really comes down to who you know – which is a shame considering the talent in DFW.  From a budget standpoint, doesn’t it seem like hiring local talent might cut back on expenses that could otherwise be avoided?

So how can we change this and give local talent a chance to do what no one in Dallas seems to believe we can do?  I know that this problem isn’t a Dallas-only issue.  So how would you improve this in your community?

Thanks, UnFair Park!

2 replies
  1. Dave Charest
    Dave Charest says:

    Hi Jim,

    “So how can we change this and give local talent a chance to do what no one in Dallas seems to believe we can do?…So how would you improve this in your community?”

    Here’s how I look at it.

    It seems the first problem is why does “no one in Dallas seems to believe we can do” the work.

    So the question becomes is the local talent actually able to fill the needs the same as those from out of town?

    Of course, I believe hiring local would be best but all angles need to be examined to find out why they are not.

    I don’t know the specifics here, but that would be my first question to ask.

    Thoughts?

    Dave

  2. Matthew Carney
    Matthew Carney says:

    A quote from a lighting mentor of mine comes to my mind- “You’re not a professional unless you come from a hundred miles away”

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