Staring down an estimated $26 million in repairs, the city is asking residents for their opinion on the future of the Fort Worth Community Arts Center.
Sitting at 1300 Gendy Street in the Cultural District, the facility has two theaters, eight gallery spaces, a handful of artist studios and is home to 10 nonprofits, including Arts Fort Worth.
Formerly known as the Arts Council of Fort Worth and Tarrant County, the nonprofit is contracted with the city to manage its public art and connect community members to the arts and relevant resources.
If you go
What: Public meeting
Time: 6 p.m.
Date: March 30
Location: Sanders Theatre
1300 Gendy Street
Fort Worth, TX 76104
The building is a hub of activity all the time, Fort Worth Community Arts Center Director Marla Fleischmann Owen said.
“We could have classes going on like figure drawing class or an oil painting class. We could have after-school programming. We have rehearsals in multiple spaces. We could have a client loading into the Scott Theatre, and we have community members that come through just to see the art and visit the space,” she said.
The building has hosted meetings for corporations and nonprofits and hosted a variety of events, ranging from birthday parties and weddings to memorial services.
“I think our building serves our community so well because we have something for everybody,” she said.
The city owns the building and Arts Fort Worth has a contract to lease and manage the space. City Council appointed a task force to consider the building’s future at a meeting in January.
In an informal report, the task force said that the nonprofit “has lacked sufficient resources with which to fulfill this responsibility and various components of the building have consequently fallen into disrepair.”
According to a 2022 assessment from the architecture firm Bennett Partners, the cost of necessary repairs is about $26 million.
Big-ticket items include addressing flooding issues and upgrading mechanical, electrical, plumbing and increasing accessibility measures.
The Fort Worth Community Arts Center is on the short-list as a potential location of the forthcoming African American Museum. A final location has not been selected yet, but a feasibility survey of three sites is expected to begin soon.
Residents can share their ideas for the space in person at a public meeting on March 30 or online. A webpage with more details is expected to go live soon.
“We have worked collaboratively with the city for many years, and I’m hoping that continues along with the organizations that we support to create a sustainable and bold future for the Fort Worth Community Arts Center and our artists,” Fleischmann Owen said.
The task force has hosted three meetings and each had a different focus, Assistant City Manager Fernando Costa said. The first session looked at the condition of the building, the second examined potential funding sources for repairs and the third focused on community engagement and discussed potential uses for the building.
“We want to find a way to make the use of that building an economically sustainable one and understand what it will take to continue supporting the use of the building and make it a valuable hub of cultural activity,” Costa said.
The footprint of the building has evolved since it was initially opened in 1954 to host the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, which was previously known as the Fort Worth Art Center and Fort Worth Art Museum.
The W.E. Scott Theatre and Solarium opened to the public in 1966 and a second addition was completed in 1976.
The Modern occupied the space until 2002. Around that time, a separate city task force sought uses for the old space and eventually recommended a management and lease agreement with the nonprofit now known as Arts Fort Worth.
Arts Fort Worth reports that last year the building hosted works from 1,200 artists, and the space sees about 90,000 visitors each year.
Council member Leonard Firestone represents District 7, which includes the Cultural District. He is the chair of the 1300 Gendy task force, but did not return requests for comment ahead of the publication deadline.
Marcheta Fornoff covers the arts for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.