Dallas center will 'elevate all of art'




Posted on October 12, 2009 at 3:28 PM

Updated Monday, Dec 14 at 7:20 PM

A National Showcase

Gary Cogill reports

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DALLAS - The cultural and architectural landscape of downtown Dallas changed Monday morning with the official opening of the $354 million AT&T Performing Arts Center.

The complex includes the Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre and the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House on ten acres at the center of the city.

The AT&T Performing Arts Center has plenty of places for you to catch the latest touring theater group, dance performance or opera.

On Monday morning, in front of hundreds of local business and cultural leaders, Mayor Tom Leppert proclaimed the Dallas Arts District to be the largest arts district of its kind in the country.

"It's the largest arts district anywhere in the nation, but I think much more appropriately called the finest arts district in the nation," Leppert said.

With the addition of the glowing red 2,200 seat Winspear Opera House and the 600 seat box-like structure of the Wyly Theatre, Dallas is positioned to become a national showcase for music, opera, theater and dance.

"We just can't wait to get in," said Ann Williams of the Dallas Black Dance Theatre. "Our debut is the first week in December, and we're looking to just shine all over Dallas during that week."

What took years of planning by people with vision and a sense of generosity might sound like boasting, but - put more simply - it's a matter of community pride.

"What it's hopefully going to do is elevate all of art, so that we will have new people getting involved, new arts lovers," Mayor Leppert said. "Hopefully, we'll think about the next generation, the kids who will come in and be inspired when they come in to these great facilities."

Don Winspear, the namesake of the new opera house, said the complex will establish Dallas as the center of performing arts in the United States.

"We now have the foundation, the buildings to do that - and from here on out, we just take off and we soar," he said.

There are several events going on this week, but the big day is Sunday, when the center is hosting many events - including free performances and tours of the facility.

The performances start at 11 a.m. The day will be capped with a fireworks spectacular at 8 p.m.