Arts Insider Q&A with Veletta Forsythe Lill February 7, 2024

TACA Arts Insider

What do you find most compelling about TACA and our mission?

The mission of TACA is to support excellence and impact in the arts in North Texas through grant-making, capacity building and thought leadership. I love that TACA has created a comprehensive infrastructure of support for our arts community. Infrastructure support means much more than operational funding, it means ensuring a partnership web of support between individual arts organizations and TACA, between organizations and artists and between audiences and arts organizations. The strength of these bonds supports excellence in the art forms, resilience in organizations and vitality in the arts ecosystem.

What was your favorite arts memory from the year?

Veletta Forstythe Lill currently serves on the board at Fair Park First

I LOVED the Nasher Sculpture Center’s “Groundswell: Women of Land Art.”  For years monumental Land art has been dominated by males. This exhibition was ‘groundbreaking’ in many ways, from focusing on women artists, many of them living, to bringing the exhibition outside of the walls of the museum. A two-day symposium included one of my artist heroes, Patricia Johanson, who created the Fair Park Lagoon sculpture in the 1980s.

The artwork, a favorite of generations of Dallas children, brought a significant environmental component to the site that we enjoy today as part of a tranquil green space experience, but also home to a diverse species of animal life. Much of the exhibition brought to life the connection between art, history, and the environment. Mary Miss’s “Stream Trace: Dallas Branch Crossing” engaged visitors with her site-specific sculpture at the Center but also with a series of walks in the neighborhood metaphorically unearthing Dallas’ underground streams and history. Bringing these various components together touched a chord with me.

Why are you passionate about the revitalization of Fair Park and how do you see its role in shaping the future of Dallas arts and culture?

Fair Park holds the genetic memory of most of our legacy arts institutions. For much of Dallas’ history the park has been the site of firsts and an incubator for many of our largest legacy institutions. As we bring some buildings back to life and modernize others there are opportunities for a new generation of visitors and innovators to see the park with fresh eyes. Whether it is a renovated, enhanced Music Hall or building a stage in a new community park, the patron will enjoy an enhanced experience and connect to other events and experiences in the park.

I am most excited about the upcoming renovation of the Magnolia Lounge. Some people don’t realize that the Magnolia Lounge in Fair Park is considered the birthplace of the American Regional Theater Movement.  In 1947 Margo Jones founded the first modern professional regional theater in the building and staged numerous plays including the world premiere of Tennessee Williams’ play, Inherit the Wind.

Bringing intimate spaces like this back to life and ensuring they are connected to the surrounding communities provides fertile ground for innovative theater, further stretching Dallas’ collective theater muscles. We know that the park is embedded in an under resourced community. A revitalized Fair Park, including buildings and fresh green spaces offer not only greater cultural choices for the region, but invites the surrounding neighborhood into the park creating greater opportunities for South Dallas artists, creatives, and audiences.

Veletta Forsythe Lill has been an agent of change in Dallas for more than three decades. The founding Executive Director of the Dallas Arts District (2008-2012), former member of the Dallas City Council (1997-2005), and longtime community advocate has played multiple roles in the development of the cultural and physical city and the policy that has guided it. She currently serves on the board at Fair Park First, the private non-profit charged with revitalizing Fair Park in Dallas Texas. 

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