A Letter from the Friends of the Bath House

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August 18, 2020

The Friends of the Bath House Cultural Center represent a community of 6,000 people who support the Arts in Dallas and the Bath House Cultural Center.  

The Bath House Cultural Center (BHCC) is being devastated by budget cuts. The Manager, Marty Van Kleeck, was compelled to take retirement and funding for the position will not be reinstated until October 2022. The BHCC is the only Cultural Center to lose its Manager position while having the smallest staff.

The City is making a HUGE mistake. The City invested $1.5MM in the renovation which is in process today. The Bath House cannot operate and provide the events and programming that it currently does without a permanent, on-site Manager. Events and programming that residents in East Dallas and all over the City enjoy will no longer be possible. The Bath House in a normal year (COVID will not last forever) hosts 15-20 visual art exhibits and over 200 performances, concerts, festivals, workshops, lectures, and other events each year for artists, patrons, and residents throughout the City of Dallas. Having a roving/part-time Manager is insufficient to meet the needs of the Community not to mention providing a proper value to justify the generous investment of $1.5MM by the City of Dallas in our historic facility.

What we are asking:

1. The Friends ask that the manager/operational reports and Cultural Center budgets be made available for public review.  As citizens, we want to ensure our tax dollars are being used to serve the needs of the community, and in good faith with the City’s goal of having a budget that is REAL (Responsible, Equitable, Accountable and Legitimate). 

2. We need a full-time Manager, funded by the City, to re-open the Bath House and provide quality programming and events the people enjoy such as Día de los Muertos, Lake-a-palooza, and Art Mart, which have become a staple and highly attended events in our City. 

3. Friends of the Bath House (FOB) will fund a consulting engagement for Marty Van Kleeck to continue participation in the renovation through completion. She has already recommended several adaptations to the renovation that have eliminated mistakes and thereby produced greater value to the project. To be clear, funding would come from FOB, NOT the City of Dallas.

During this time of budget crisis, we understand dollars are scarce.
We have a choice: allocate funds for the Manager position and provide all the programming that Dallas residents enjoy in a newly renovated 1930s historical treasure on the Lake, or save the Manager’s meager salary and not maximize the return on the $1.5M of taxpayer money for the renovation project that has not even been finished yet.

Will you help to obtain the desired result that benefits the many individuals and families in Dallas who enjoy the programs and events provided by City’s treasure by White Rock Lake?

Thank you!

Friends of the Bath House Cultural Center Board of Directors


August 18, 2020

BHCC operates at over 100% capacity.  With a staff of 3, the BHCC receives 37,000 visitors per year.  Both the Latino Cultural Center and South Dallas Cultural Center have over twice the staff and budget and receive approximately 32,000 visitors each per year.

BHCC, an Art Deco building designated an historical landmark by the City of Dallas, was the first and the oldest cultural center in Dallas located on White Rock Lake.  To highlight just one of the BHCC’s signature events, our longest running event of 33 years is Día de los Muertos. Hundreds of artists have participated over the years. 

BHCC works in partnership with the OAC (Office of Arts and Culture) to produce One Thirty Productions, the only theatre company with performances produced specifically for seniors.  The Cultural Plan specifies the need for programs for seniors, yet this program has been cut.  Thousands of seniors in sold-out performances have come to rely on One Thirty.  The largest senior living centers, CC Young and Juliette Fowler along with other senior living centers provide transportation to the BHCC.  They also stop at local restaurants and have helped the local businesses to thrive.

BHCC hosts the longest-running Independent Theatre Festival (FIT) and has more contracted independent theatre companies performing in its black-box theatre than any other cultural center within the City.  The number of artists served is an important metric in measuring the allocation of scarce public monies.

BHCC supports more artists than the other cultural centers.  It hosts Art Mart, where artists can sell their work, Lake-a-Palooza which highlights local singer-songwriters and the Cabaret Series and Festival.  

BHCC has sponsored children’s programs with a long-standing after-school program, children’s day camp, and International Children’s Day.  

BHCC has also delivered theatre productions, at the request of the OAC, to libraries throughout the City.  No other cultural center has done this. 

BHCC is the only cultural center that has an advocacy group dedicated to raising money for productions and programming.  The Friends have provided over $100K to the BHCC over the years and has an account of $160,000 allocated to help the BHCC achieve the goals of serving artists, the public, and the Office of Arts and Culture.

Thank you!

Friends of the Bath House Cultural Center Board of Directors

What You Can Do

August 18, 2020

Dear Friend,

The Bath House needs you to take action to let our City and Elected Officials know how important it is to have a fully staffed cultural center.  Call your local City Councilperson and Mayor Johnson (Click here for Contact Information).

•  Ask that the Manager position at the Bath House Cultural Center be restored.

•  Sign-up and attend a Town Hall Budget Meeting.  Make a statement at the meeting, ask that the BHCC Manager position be restored.

If you do not know what to say or write, here’s an example: 

“ Hi, my name is _________________________, and I am a resident of Dallas.  The arts are important.  Please keep the BHCC fully staffed and providing
engaging, meaningful, affordable, and inclusive high-quality arts and cultural experiences.  It is the only cultural center north of Downtown and is a hub of activity essential to Dallas as a whole.  Hundreds of local artists and thousands of patrons depend on this programming.” 

Regardless of why you love the BHCC, you are an important part of the Friends of the Bath House Cultural Center and the BHCC needs your action to continue to be an important part of the community.  

Thank you!

Friends of the Bath House Cultural Center Board of Directors

Our mailing address is:
Friends of the Bath House Cultural Center, 521 East Lawther Drive, Dallas, Tx 75218