Americans for the Arts and The United States Conference of Mayors today awarded Dallas Mayor Michael S. Rawlings the 2018 National Award for Local Arts Leadership for cities with a population of 100,000 or more.
“I am deeply honored to join the distinguished list of leaders who have received this award from Americans for the Arts,” said Mayor Rawlings. “The arts lift us up and make life worth living. This really isn’t about me. It is truly a team effort, and Dallas would not be the burgeoning international arts destination that it has become in recent years without our residents, artists, arts organizations, businesses and our philanthropic community coming together to elevate the creative industry and our city’s cultural vibrancy. I am proud to serve as their mayor, and I dedicate this award to them.”
Since taking office in 2011, Mayor Rawlings, wanting to be known as the “Arts Mayor,” has spoken extensively about the importance and impact of the arts on the city’s economy and quality of life. The Dallas Arts District, with its iconic visual and performing arts venues, has drawn tourism downtown, spurred development, boosted property values and generates $395 million a year in economic impact.
At the start of his first term, Mayor Rawlings started Dallas Arts Week to shine a spotlight on the city’s arts organizations and work. It has proven so successful that last year it expanded to the full month of April, showcasing 55 groups and 156 events, including Mayor Rawlings’ Creative Conversations panels discussing tough issues for the arts. Dallas Arts Month is designed to build awareness and appreciation for the work of Dallas artists and organizations and foster creative learning and activity throughout the city.
Mayor Rawlings also supported the effort to create a new cultural policy for the city – the first since 2002. He supported city staff efforts to add funding to the Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs, including the first-time use of the city’s hotel occupancy tax toward the arts. Mayor Rawlings also supported efforts to create another special marketing fund within the new Tourism Public Improvement District, which now provides almost $1.2 million annually in marketing grants, mostly to arts and cultural programs that attract tourists to Dallas.
“Dallas is a city with a dynamic and growing cultural ecosystem, and a major reason this ecosystem remains so vibrant is Mayor Michael Rawlings. He understands the importance of using the arts in very creative ways to help enhance the quality of life for Dallas residents, while at the same time harnessing the economic potential of investment in culture. We applaud Mayor Rawlings for his leadership worthy of this recognition,” said Robert L. Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts.
“Every year, The U.S. Conference of Mayors recognizes the exemplary efforts of local leaders who believe as much as we do that the arts are an integral part our society,” remarked Tom Cochran, CEO and Executive Director of The U.S. Conference of Mayors. “Mayors understand the connection between arts and business, and the significant contribution the arts make to the local economy.”
Americans for the Arts and The United States Conference of Mayors presented their 2018 Public Arts Leadership Awards at the mayors’ Winter Meeting in Washington, DC. Maryland Governor Larry Hogan received the National Award for State Arts Leadership; Santa Fe Mayor Javier M. Gonzales received the National Award for Local Arts Leadership for cities with a population of fewer than 100,000; and actor and musician Michael Cerveris received the Citizen Artist Award.
Americans for the Arts is the leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts and arts education in America. With offices in Washington, D.C. and New York City, it has a record of more than 55 years of service. Americans for the Arts is dedicated to representing and serving local communities and creating opportunities for every American to participate in and appreciate all forms of the arts. Additional information is available at www.AmericansForTheArts.org.
Jay H. Dick
Americans for the Arts