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A New Trail In South Dallas, Arts Groups To Receive City Funding During Pandemic

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On Monday, the city of Dallas’ Quality of Life, Arts & Culture Committee met on Monday to discuss its latest projects and developments.

Members of the committee include: Carolyn King Arnold, Chair Jennifer S. Gates, Vice Chair Tennell Atkins, Omar Narvaez and Chad West. They discussed a new trail that’s close to completion in South Dallas and funding distribution to local arts organizations.  

South Dallas Trail Near Completion

After three years under construction, the Honey Springs-Cedar Crest Trail in South Dallas is almost over the finish line.

The 4.7 mile-long path is located south of the Cedar Crest golf course and utilizes Oncor ROW, which had previously been used by the Texas Electric railway over 100 years ago. It connects numerous neighborhoods, schools, the DART station and a Parkland Clinic in South Dallas. 

“The utilization of the trail brings these corridors to life,” said Rick Loessberg, Dallas County director of planning and development. “Suddenly where there was nothing, there is energy. You just see the energy of people being out and about and enjoying themselves. That becomes a great amenity.” 

Dallas County has been responsible for the design and construction of the trail and the city of Dallas was in charge of providing and securing the needed land. 

According to Loessberg, 96% of the trail has been completed. 

“I think it’s like you’re running to the end of a cliff,” said District 8 council member Tennell Atkins, who has some concerns with the project’s finishing look. 

Atkins is concerned with the connectivity the trail has to the rest of the city. He mentioned it’s great that the community is seeing projects like this in Southern Dallas but he said the problem is there’s not a grander vision. 

“I believe in the tail of two cities: North and South Dallas,” Atkins said. “We got to have connectivity and more vision.”

The Honey Springs-Cedar Crest Trail is not part of the Dallas Park and Recreation Department Master Plans, which is a project spearheaded by the city to connect all parks. 

Meanwhile, District 6 council member Omar Narvaez said he’s happy with the project.

“It’s also another way that we can reimagine public safety,” Narvaez said. “When we have folks out and about doing things and they are moving around, bad guys don’t want to do things. That’s not where they want to hang out.” 

Narvaez said this trail will do more than just provide a place for exercise and mobility.

In the coming months, the city will install a 50- foot bridge and hang signs. The trail should be complete by the end of the year.

Dallas Arts And Culture Groups To Receive Funding

Dallas arts groups have been struggling with the economic fallout of the global pandemic.

Through the city’s Cultural Organization Program, 34 non-profit groups will receive a total of $4.8 million dollars in funding to help them stay afloat. This is one of the oldest established funding programs in the city for non-profits. 

“We wanted to make sure the arts were not hurt during the budget,” Narvaez said. “We always cut arts and the cultural areas and this year we tried to make sure not to do that. Let’s get the cash out to these orgs.”

This year the city’s Office of Arts and Culture received roughly $20 million in budget dollars. 

How much money is given to the organization is determined by when they applied, how many Dallas residents they serve and the number of services they deliver. Some of the groups that will receive funding are the Anita N. Martinez Ballet Folklorico, Dallas Chamber Symphony, Kitchen Dog Theatre, Teatro Dallas, and Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra.  

“The groups are working to try to figure out what works best for their audiences and the way they want to deliver their art form, but slowly and surely the arts are reopening,” said Jennifer Scripps, the director of the city’s Office of Arts and Culture.

Scripps said many museums and cultural centers are now back in business, but one of the challenges has been distributing information as hours and safety measurements are changing. 

“Communication is one of the key components for our cultural plan. The pandemic has really thrown us a curve where we’ve had to move to virtual. We have that challenge to help them amplify their services,” said Joey Zapata, the assistant city manager.

The Office of Arts and Culture is working on a digital landing page that will show what spaces are open to the public and will also detail their safety precautions.  Until then, Scripss encourages people in Dallas to check each individual institution’s website.