A Home for the Arts in Irving
The performing and fine arts community in Irving welcomed a new home in 1990 with the completion of the Irving Arts Center. The Arts Center’s 10-acre complex, nestled in the heart of Dallas-Fort Worth, features two fully-equipped theaters; four galleries; meeting, classroom, reception and rehearsal facilities; and a verdant sculpture garden. The Arts Center – a department of the City of Irving – was designed to accommodate a wide range of cultural and civic needs.
Ben and Betty Carpenter provided the catalyst for construction of the Arts Center with a donation of land at 3333 N. MacArthur Blvd. to the City of Irving in 1980 for the purpose of constructing a home for the arts in Irving. When completed in 1990, the facility included the two fully-equipped theaters; four galleries; meeting, classroom, reception and rehearsal facilities and a sculpture garden.
Variety is the Spice of Life
The versatile facility was a decade in the making. In 1980, the Irving City Council established the City of Irving Arts Board, which was charged with the responsibility of encouraging and supporting local arts activities and with the development and oversight of the Irving Arts Center. Careful planning ensured that the facility could support any range of skill from local beginners to Internationally-known professionals. In April of 1986, the Arts Board opened the first phase of the Irving Arts Center which included administrative offices, meeting rooms and the 3808 sq. ft. Main Gallery. The facility was completed in 1990 when the Carpenter Performance Hall and Dupree Theater were added.
The work of the 11-person Board is funded through a portion of the local hotel room occupancy tax.
A Place of Community Pride
Since opening its doors, the Arts Center has been a lively hub of community celebration. In 2014, the Arts Center hosted 1,375 events, including 203 performances and 24 exhibitions. During the year, the center welcomed 103,719 visitors.
- The Arts Center has more than 91,500 square feet of performing and visual arts space, including the 707-seat Carpenter Performance Hall and the 253-seat Dupree Theater.
- In 2007 the Irving Arts Center was named an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution.
- The Arts Center’s four gallery spaces have housed notable exhibitions from local, regional and national artists, including:
- Caldecott Book Illustration Medal Winners 1929 to 1993
- Premier of 200 Years of African American Art: The Arthur Primas Collection
- Within the Emperor’s Garden: The Ten Thousand Springs Pavilion – A Smithsonian exhibition
- Dance Theatre of Harlem: 40 Years of Firsts – A retrospective of the first 40 years of the company.
- In 2011, the Arts Center welcomed the international tour of Genghis Khan: The Exhibition. The multi-media exhibition brought with it the largest number of artifacts from 13th century Mongolia ever gathered in a single showing. During the four month exhibition, over 50,000 people attended, including 12,682 students. Visitors came from 49 states and the District of Columbia and represented over 2,303 zip codes, pushing annual IAC attendance up to 162,831.
- The Main Gallery is a 3,800-square-foot art gallery with 200 linear feet of wall space.
- The Sculpture Garden features commissioned sculptures by James Surls, Jesús Moroles and Michael Manjarris; the monumental mosaic Irving Centennial Mural created by artist Francisco Mendoza with Irving youths; and ’03 Politicized Democracy by John Brough Miller. The Sculpture Garden also features rotating sculptures by Texas and national artists, including a sculpture by American artist Reuben Nakian, on loan from the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C.
- The Arts Center’s year-round youth and family programs feature story times, live performances, Saturday School, more than 12 weeks of summer camp annually, Family Fundays and a free holiday festival.