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Written December 24, 1989 and March 18, 2008
by DARE Founding Board Secretary J R Compton
© 1989and 2008 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

In the beginningearly June of 1989 — Dallas artists Greg Metz, Tracy Hicks (DARE Founders Emeritus) and a few others met informally for conversations concerning Dick Armey, the NEA censorship flap, artists' role in society, and the plight of the serious artist in Dallas. There was a lot to talk about at those Tuesday night meetings in Hicks' studio in the heart of Dallas' official Arts District. Artists, critics, organizers, and other members of the arts community were invited to taped, brain-storming sessions.

As the wide-ranging conversations continued, the group coalesced to fifteen regular members — now the group's steering committee. Meetings took on a practical tone with meeting minutes and agendas generated by "agenderator" Deborah Dobbins. The need to create a serious organization for serious, experimental artists of any medium became their primary goal.

Weekly meetings moved to Mondays at Allen Street Gallery, committee member's homes and studios. By late summer, the group began to develop an organizational workshop, set for November fourth at the Dallas Museum of Art. Mailing lists were gathered, and suitable speakers, group leaders and facilitators selected.

Ad hoc committees developed publicity and mailed out a promotional brochure, which asked artists, "Does the existing Dallas Art structure meet your needs?" Another challenge was to find an appropriate name in time for the group to publicize the DMA workshop and generate nonprofit incorporation papers with the State of Texas (now in progress). After many false starts, Tracy Hicks suggested DARE — Dallas Artists Research & Exhibitions, which was approved by the steering committee.

Organizational matters were not the only issues addressed by the fledgling group. DARE steering committee members attended and raised artist concerns at Cultural Affairs Committee meetings, raised percent for the arts questions regarding the reconstruction of Central Expressway, and even challenged DMA Director Rick Brettell regarding the Beaux Art Ball auction and artist-representation on the museum board. These efforts have met with remarkable success. Stay tuned for the latest information.

DARE was determined not to get bogged down with a permanent space (!), but to use a series of temporary spaces for exhibitions and other events until it attains a power base of active members. Meanwhile, the DARE newsletter began publishing, incorporating a series of dialogues.

In late December, the steering committee met to create a generalized, three-year plan, and it set up operational committees, including an Advocacy, Publications/ Promotion, Fundraising/ Organization, and Membership/ Programming. Combination committees (marked by /s) will be divided later, when DARE members fill the ranks.

Unfortunately, when DARE board member Joan Davidow found the abandoned Westinghouse warehouse then on the edge of Deep Elm (now in the midst of the massive urban housing development), we abandoned our principles, jumped on the hugely expensive to operate, otherwise nearly free building and set about a series of events and exhibitions that didn't have all that much to do with showing local artists, but was a lot of fun and created quite a stir.

A wonderful lecture series followed till interneccine politics, near financial ruin and our inability to operate a space that large did us in. In the end, DARE co-founder and president Greg Metz, who had great ideas and lots of talented friends but hardly any executive managerial skills — he couldn't even run a meeting — sold the corporation's valuable nonprofit status to the nacent McKinney Avenue Contemporary for the promise to continue our lofty ideals.

And thereby hangs a whole 'nother tale. See DARE vs. The MAC. "The Short, Sad History of How DARE Became The MAC and Abdicated Its Mandate to Support and Exhibit Lesser Known Dallas Artists," continuing this extensive history of DARE.


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