Outlook 2013: Philharmonic executive director sees artistic, pedestrian-friendly downtown in Oklahoma City’s future

Eddie Walker predicts that in 20 years, downtown Oklahoma City will boast 24/7 foot traffic as more people make their homes in the heart of the city.

by Brandy McDonnell Published: April 28, 2013
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“I think people will choose to live downtown because of so much that’s at their doorstep ... and I hope that we see kind of an arts campus where organizations have their administrative offices but you also have gallery spaces and education spaces and little performance spaces.”

Taking arts to the people

He is optimistic that the planned $130 million Core to Shore park, currently set to include a cafe, lake, gardens, fountains and a grand lawn, will give the Philharmonic and other organizations the chance to build on programs like the Arts Council of Oklahoma City’s Art Moves, which offers free lunchtime concerts, dance performances and art demonstrations Monday through Friday at various downtown locations.

“I know what has happened in downtown Dallas with their park by the arts district ... and that place is busy all the time,” Walker said. “We can program for all those people who are going to be down here (like) ensembles playing for lunches. In the evening, as people are walking to grab a sandwich at a little restaurant before they go to Civic Center or Chesapeake Arena, there’s live music happening. Shakespeare in the Park could be doing scenes.”

He believes taking the arts into downtown denizens’ everyday lives will encourage them to seek out formal “night-out” performances, too.

“People often ask me, ‘Hey, has the Phil seen a big upswing in ticket sales because of downtown’s growth?’ And the answer is ‘not yet.’ I think we will, but I think it’s going to take another 15 or 20 years for all of this to happen,” Walker said.

“Then, I think we’re going to see people go, ‘Oh, I’ll get tickets to the symphony or to the ballet or to Lyric (Theatre), and I’ll walk there from my apartment and we’ll have dinner on the way’ ... so that the arts are incorporated into this vibrancy that is downtown.”



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