The Dallas Center for Photography (DCP), the only North Texas nonprofit dedicated solely to photography, recently announced that its board of directors has voted to dissolve the organization.
Founded in 2009 by Peter Poulides, DCP was initially a for-profit organization focused on photo-based adult education. Mr. Poulides told Glasstire that when he started the organization he had been a freelance photographer for 30 years and, though he worked with a business consultant, he learned about running a business as he went. DCP is housed in a custom-designed 6,000-square-foot building owned by Mr. Poulides, which was remodeled in 2015 to include offices, a classroom, a large darkroom, and a 1,800-square-foot gallery. In its first ten years, DCP served over 4,000 unique clients, expanded its course offerings, and took on pro bono projects for local nonprofits.
In 2018, when Mr. Poulides decided to turn DCP into a nonprofit corporation, he learned about nonprofits, consulted an attorney, and put together a board. Speaking about how the organization changed after receiving its nonprofit status, Mr. Poulides told Glasstire, “I started seeking individual and corporate donations, building relationships with other nonprofits and cultural centers, and having some pretty awesome gallery exhibitions. We started focusing more on mission, the reason we were granted the 501 status.”
During the last five years, the organization has partnered with local schools, including Booker T. Washington High School for Visual & Performing Arts, and welcomed thousands of visitors to the space. Recent exhibitions, like Modern Analog: Historical Processes in the Digital World and Memory is a Verb: Exploring Time and Transience, expanded traditional perspectives on photography, showcasing the wide range of possibilities within the medium.
In a statement posted to the DCP Facebook page, Mr. Poulides alluded to financial issues that the organization has faced: “…as a nonprofit, we are legally and morally charged with serving the community while being fiscally responsible and sustainable. It became increasingly clear that the gap couldn’t be managed, and shutting down now was the responsible thing to do for the organization and the community.”
In an email distributed by the organization, Mr. Poulides wrote that following the COVID-19 pandemic, DCP had been running on a “very lean budget.” He also noted that other major events and challenges have occurred in the years since COVID. Though DCP received a small grant through The Arts Community Alliance in 2021 and 2022, Mr. Poulides cited a lack of “adequate funding for emerging artists and arts nonprofits” in Dallas as one reason for the closure.
Mr. Poulides continued, “One of the most gratifying parts of my job was watching people come to a gallery exhibition and just hang around, talking, showing off their image on the wall, or admiring someone else’s. That environment, that ability to just appreciate something beautiful, with no pressure to actually do anything but pass time in a creative frame of mind with others, is rare and fragile.”
Michael Mulvey, a Dallas-based artist, educator, and journalist who taught at DCP and participated in the organization’s workshops, told Glasstire, “I think DCP was playing a vital role in the arts community and the photo community in Dallas. They were not only introducing photography as an art form, but helping so many new photographers understand why they picked up a camera in the first place… all in a safe creative space that was more like what one would expect at an art institution with less of the drama, confusion, and static that is so often found online and in social media.”
Mr. Mulvey continued, “It will be hard to fill the void that has been left, but artists have always found new places and space in which to thrive and learn. Hopefully the City of Dallas is listening because not having a deep and complex arts community becomes an exponential problem over time.”
According to Mr. Poulides, the Board voted to dissolve the organization on Wednesday, June 28. The class schedule will continue, and the next planned exhibition will go up on July 22, but DCP will officially cease operations on Friday, August 4.