Magazine Online    The Authority On African-American Conventions, Incentives, & Leisure Travel
Issue: June/July 2008
If You Haven't Been to Dallas Recently, You Haven't Been to Dallas
By: Solomon J. Herbert II

Dallas symbolizes much of the popular image of Texas. A major center for oil and gas, this city goes about its business with refreshing character and gusto. For the past several years, Dallas leaders have expressed a renewed interest in revitalizing various areas of the city. With a strong reinvestment in downtown, a bustling uptown and numerous new development projects, the "The Big D" is expanding and an urban lifestyle is emerging.

About 10 years ago African-American leadership in Dallas complained that there was not enough effort to bringing Black groups as well as groups of other ethnicities to Dallas for their conferences, family reunions, retreats and other events. The city recognized a need for change and they needed to make the changes fast because, quite frankly, these African-American groups bring very profitable business and the numbers don't lie. Plus, in this day and age, with the cultural merging of people and lifestyles, a Dallas makeover would be eminent. "The Big D" needed to remarket itself as a culturally all-inclusive destination.

"This is an incredible partnership that provides opportunities that provide additional economic impact on the city of Dallas"

The first action taken in efforts to achieve this goal was the partnership of the Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Dallas Black Chamber of Commerce, the oldest Black chamber in the nation. This union would be the beginning of a prosperous relationship both financially and culturally for the city. Here would be an opportunity to market themselves to African-American groups as well as other ethnic groups showing that Dallas has got something to accommodate everyone.

"This is an incredible partnership that provides opportunities that provide additional economic impact on the city of Dallas", states Phillip Jones, President and CEO of Dallas CVB. These changes definitely had a direct benefit on the city's operation. For one the job market went up. With all the expansions and new businesses opening up more job opportunities were available. With that more people want to move to Dallas. And as a result of that, guess what? You've got it… developments of new condos and expanded residential areas were necessary to accommodate Dallas' new residents. "A lot of people have misconceptions about there being  nothing to do in Dallas. One of the goals that the Black Chamber of Commerce and the CVB have is to educate those people nationwide and even locally that there is plenty to do and Dallas can accommodate everyone", says Devorah Evans, who serves as the director of Conventions & Tourism for the Chamber.

Another step in achieving the goal of attracting huge groups to Dallas was the purchase of 8.4 acres of new land in which the city will be submitting a proposal in efforts to eventually expand the Convention Center. The expansion will include a 1,000-room hotel which will have direct access to the Center, 200,000 sq. ft. of additional meeting space and an entertainment district that would include retail stores, restaurants and attractions. Currently the Convention Center is undergoing renovations, which include the new "F" Hall, the worlds largest column-free hall. This model is a much more cosmopolitan style structure and keeps a modern look in comparison to other Convention Center Halls these days. When the city of Dallas first found out they would be hosting Super Bowl 45 in 2011 there was a heightened urgency in giving special attention to the renovation of the city's meeting areas. It was a number one priority for Dallas to have a very modern yet polished look that would attract groups like this and keep them coming.

In Dallas there are 13 entertainment districts, all within a short distance of downtown, each with their own local history and flavor, offering a unique mixture of arts, culture, shopping, dining and fun. One of the historical parts of Dallas that underwent a great portion of reconstruction and renovation was within the Dallas Arts District. The Big D is proud of and boasts the largest contiguous urban arts district in the nation. The Dallas Arts district was established in 1983 to centralize the art community and provide adequate facilities for cultural organizations.

The new Center For Performing Arts, an estimated $275 million project, is the largest public/private cultural initiative ever taken in the North Texas region. The new multi-venue center will complete the 25-year dream of the Dallas Arts District and offer world-class settings for opera, musical theater, classical and experimental theater, ballet and other forms of dance, as well as first-run Broadway productions. This project is to be completed in 2009.

A new facility for the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts is currently being constructed within the heart of downtown. Originally built in 1922, Dallas' first African-American high school harbored such acclaimed individuals as Grammy-winning Erykah Badu and Norah Jones as well as 16 Presidential Scholars just to name a few. Once built, Booker T. Washington High School's location in the Dallas Arts District will continue to provide students with the opportunity to learn while nestled amongst nationally recognized museums, theaters and concert halls.

Since diversity and cultural awareness is a huge goal for the city of Dallas, more efforts are being made to include all angles of the spectrum from a cultural perspective. Museums play a huge role in educating those individuals interested in learning what all of the people and lifestyles of the world have to offer. Examples of some institutions within The Dallas Arts District are The Crow Collection of Asian Arts, The Dallas Museum of Art, The Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, and The Nasher Sculpture Center. Over in Fair Park such venues as The African-American Museum, The Museum of Nature and Science and the Women's Museum: An Institute for the Future each bring a variety of culture to the table.

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