It is hard to believe the South Dallas Cultural Center has been open for more than 20 years, and throughout this time period, has remained true to its main purpose, which is to enrich the lives of young African-American children by connecting them with their history. There are many ways in which this objective can be reached, however, teaching through the use of the performing arts and fine arts, takes our history of pain and oppression during slavery and beyond, and molds it into positive lessons filled with many of the conversations which never take place in a public school setting. Over a period of time, these lessons help to further strengthen our children’s awareness of their own resilience.
Two months ago, John Spriggins, joined the South Dallas Cultural Center as manager, and has been working on reviving some of the artistic programs that were once taught at the Center. At one time the Center could have very well created the next Spike Lee or Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis; they certainly have the space and equipment. Therefore careful thought and planning is being put into reestablishing these programs to create additional outlets for the community the Center serves. When speaking with Mr. Spriggins a few days ago he told us, “The focus in our schools has been on testing, and as a result the arts have been marginalized. In some cases, the arts have been completely removed from schools. Research proves however, that these programs are necessary, as they foster vision and imagination.”
If you have not been to the South Dallas Cultural Center, now is the perfect time to go and take a tour of the facility. Recently, they had a theater production running called, “Re-tales – The Flyest Fairy Tales.” These are re-tellings of common fairy tales and nursery rhymes with an urban/r&b twist, one of which is an interpretation of of “Little Red Riding Hood” which is called “Little Red Rides the Hood.” These tales are presented by annually by the Soul Rep Theatre, the SDCC’s resident theater group.
SDCC is a cultural center, so there is literally a ton of artwork and sculptures up and down the hallways and on the walls to feast your eyes upon. One of the most striking images we found on the walls in the hallways was a collage timeline which spans from 1930 – 2007. It is a collage of real photos of some of the most prominent people in our Dallas Black History during these time periods. Make plans to go with your family and see if you can identify some of the people in the pictures without looking them up on your cellphone.
Right now, through December, you will be able to enjoy the Journey Mercies the Master of Fine Arts Exhibition in the Arthello Beck Gallery. The exhibition is by Spencer Evans from the University of Texas at Arlington, and consists mostly of big colorful murals, but also includes one bronze bust of an African-American male.
Saturdays at the South Dallas Cultural Center are a very special time for our children starting from 9:30 a.m. Some of the activities offered include Capoeira (Brazilian Martial Arts), African-American Storytelling, Vocal and Instrumental music, acting classes and even gardening. The best part about all of these activities, which have been coordinated by Education and Outreach Coordinator Marilyn Clark is that they are free thanks to the availability of City of Dallas grants.
Mr. Spriggins has a Masters in Humanities and has taught college level literature, theater arts and film for several years. At one time, he served as the Gallery Director for Richland Community College, seeking out exhibitions of interest and using them as a teaching gallery.
Please make it a point to reconnect with your neighborhood theater. As Mr. Spriggins says, “If you want to have a theater experience, you shouldn’t have to travel to Bishop Arts or Deep Ellum. You should be able to experience theater in South Dallas.” Come and discover what the South Dallas Cultural Center has to offer you and your family. They are located at 3400 S. Fitzhugh Ave, Dallas, TX 75210. Their phone number is 214-939-2787.
By: Arielle Johnson