October 21, 2009 / 2:05 PM / 9 years ago

Amid recession, a new arts center rises in Dallas

DALLAS (Reuters Life!) - Dallas has deep pockets.

Amid the worst recession in decades, this city of oil and commerce has opened a new performing arts center which comes with a price tag of around $350 million.

And it did it through what is probably one of the most successful capital campaigns in U.S. history, which has included 133 gifts from families and companies of $1 million or more. So far, more than $337 million has been raised.

Funding for the project has included an $18 million bond issue but the bulk has come from private donations.

The AT&T Performing Arts Center was unveiled last week with several days of celebration to open its a new 2,200 seat opera house and 575-seat theater. The opera house was designed by Foster + Partners under award-winning architect Norman Foster.

The entrance to the opera house features the 60-foot Annette and Harold Simmons Signature Glass Facade that wraps three-quarters of the way around the building and its balconies are only 90 feet from the stage.

“The Center really is a gift to the city of Dallas and we look forward to welcoming many more families from across the region in the coming weeks as our resident companies premiere their first performances in their new homes,” Mark Nerenhausen, President/CEO of the new center, said.

The resident companies include the Dallas Opera, the Texas Ballet Theater and the Black Dance Theater.

The new venue has been given the thumbs up by critics and the local and national media.

“Lincoln Center is still the country’s premier cultural complex, but it’s getting competition from an ambitious project in — are you ready for it, New Yorkers? — Dallas,” was Newsweek’s take on the center earlier this month.

“No one would deny what a stunning addition the new theater and opera house are to the cultural landscape,” it added.

But while some local commentators have said it shows Dallas is not just a “football town,” it is worth bearing in mind that in the nearby city of Arlington, the Dallas Cowboys have also defied the recession with the opening of their colossal new stadium which cost over $1 billion to build.

That stadium can seat over 100,000, leaving little doubt about what remains by far the biggest draw in this town, even as the Cowboys struggle this season.

To see what’s happening at the new center click on www.resnicowschroeder.com/media.asp

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