Hot spot for the arts

Dallas' Deep Ellum earns prestigious new designation as cultural district

Deep Ellum earns prestigious new designation as cultural district

Deep Ellum "Traveling Man"
Traveling Man gets a shout-out. Photo by Joseph Haubert

Dallas has a new cultural district. The Texas Commission on the Arts (TCA) approved the designation of Deep Ellum as one of five official new cultural districts around the state, announced September 3.

Also joining the list are Near Southside Arts in Fort Worth, Red River Cultural District in Austin, and two districts in Houston: the Fifth Ward Cultural Arts District and the Third Ward Cultural District (The Tre). Texas now has 48 designated cultural districts.

“We are pleased to highlight the wonderful work these districts are already doing to attract visitors to their communities, and to enhance the quality of life in our great state,” says Gary Gibbs, executive director of TCA, in a release. 

Cultural districts are defined by TCA as special zones that "harness the power of cultural resources to stimulate economic development and community revitalization," the release says. They are focal points for generating business, attracting tourists, stimulating cultural development, and fostering civic pride, TCA explains. 

Only Texas Commission on the Arts can officially designate cultural districts on behalf of the state, and neighborhoods must go through a rigorous application and approval process.

“Each approved cultural district provided extensive information on their qualifications, and was considered through a highly rigorous review process," Gibbs says. "We congratulate them on this achievement." 

TCA applauded Dallas' Deep Ellum for its history-meets-now ethos, saying:

"Established in 1873, the Deep Ellum Cultural District is one of Dallas’ most historically significant neighborhoods and it has always been known for music. In the 1920s, the neighborhood was a hotbed for early jazz and blues musicians. Since then, it has become a center for artists with a vibrant community of galleries, murals, and public art. The Traveling Man sculptures, robust live performance offerings, and gallery scene demonstrate that this is a place where art is created, shared, and sold. The Deep Ellum Arts Festival began in 1994, and the neighborhood is also home to many creative businesses."

Cultural districts are are not only marketable tourism assets for cities, but they and their qualifying resident arts organizations may apply for significant Cultural District Project funding through TCA.

Each new cultural district will host an event when in-person gatherings can happen safely again. TCA representatives will be on hand to provide an official proclamation.