The best day the AT&T Performing Arts Center has had was its first day — when it held an open house last year. It hasn’t exactly been downhill ever since, but it’s hard to argue against an estimated 45,000 people flocking to the Arts District to tour the new buildings and check out free performances.
The sense of expectation, the presence of a milling, urban, pedestrian crowd of people eager to enjoy their city: All of that, it would seem, is one reason the Arts District exists. But as a number of commentators have pointed out, ever since, the regular crowds in the Arts District have been pretty spotty — even if a Meyerson concert or Winspear opera performance has sold out. It’s still the case that most visitors travel to the Arts District, park underground, go up to see whatever and then exit — back in their cars — without ever setting foot outside a performance venue.
What has been true for years still holds true: There are plenty of reasons to visit the Arts District, but there aren’t many reasons to stick around.
But the Dallas Arts District organization, part of Downtown Dallas, Inc., is working to counter that by replicating some of that first-day excitement. It’s working to generate synergistic interactions among the disparate museums and theaters and music groups in the Arts District — for the entire month of October. Because the fall arts season typically kicks off in September, Art in October is able to piggyback on a slew of major events already planned: the Dallas Theater Center’s season opener, Henry IV, the Texas Ballet Theater’s Cinderella at the Winspear, Brahms’ German Requiem, performed by the Dallas Symphony, conducted by Jaap van Zweden and the Dallas Museum of Arts’ Mourners exhibition, its once-in-a-lifetime show of statues of medieval monks from Dijon, France.
But Art in October will stitch these events together with tours, gallery talks and freebies. This Saturday, it kicks off with its biggest lineup of such attractions — the biggest, that is, until the last day, Oct. 31. Saturday’s events include a free organ recital at the Meyerson, a free sneak-peak at the DMA’s Mourners exhibition (plus a curator-led tour) and free admission to the Nasher Sculpture Center.
Other notable draws throughout the month include the Dallas Opera’s Don Giovanni — with its opening-night simulcast on Oct. 22 outdoors in Annette Strauss Square — and, in conjunction with the DMA’s Mourners exhibition, the Dallas Bach Society concert, Subtitilitas: Music for the Dukes of Burgundy.
But there’s just about any art form you’re interested represented here — jazz, film, Tibetan monks creating a sand mandala (at the Crow Collection of Asian Art), the great Savion Glover tap-dancing at the Meyerson, the Fiesta Latinoamerica to celebrate Mexico’s 200th anniversary this year.
Check out all the offerings: the full PDF calendar of events is here.
And the full press release is here.