Deep Ellum Arts Festival shows changing face of neighborhood



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Posted on April 5, 2013 at 10:22 PM

Updated Saturday, Apr 6 at 9:25 AM

DALLAS -- A street performer walks down the sidewalk with a dancing skeleton marionette.

It's playful, but edgy, and exactly the kind if vibe revitalization efforts are bringing back to Deep Ellum.

"I'm really into Deep Ellum," said Mackenzie Murray. "I like the culture, the scene, the people and the arts."

That's how she sees the historic East Dallas community now, but in 2005, she had a different opinion.

"When I first came to Deep Ellum, I didn't really want to hang out," Murray said, "but now it's kind of getting more people, more lively."

As many as 50,000 people are expected to attend the Deep Ellum Arts Festival over the weekend.

Nineteen years ago, it was just a way to get people to come here. Now, people of all ages and even families, who used to shun the area due to crime, are making Deep Ellum a destination.

"So it's for everybody now," said  Barry Annino, president of the Deep Ellum Foundation. "Buses are dropping people off. Taking pictures, and they are coming out and spending a lot of time."

Just a block away from where stages are set up for the festival, there are still boarded-up buildings, but vacant properties are quickly being bought up. News 8 reported back in January that 32 were bought by a single developer.

Rock and roll bands, like Midnight Empire, like to get down and dirty, but cleaning up Deep Ellum's image is bringing the music back home to a place where it thrived for decades.

"We used to play a lot in Deep Ellum, but because of things like safety and a lot of bars closing and then opening, the inconsistency just hurt the crowds," said band member Jacob Henderson.

As the development continues, it appears the stage is set for the crowds to return and keep coming.