“I never intended to live in Texas. It’s about as far from as you can get from Duluth, Minnesota in just about every way possible. But I met a tall, handsome Texan who swept me off my feet and ended up in Houston, newly married to a talented photographer and put my skills to work helping him build his commercial photography business. This was in the 1980’s, and we were doing well, with many clients in the oil and gas business in Houston, and one major client in Dallas – the Dallas Cowboys. We came to Dallas every other week during football season to shoot the games, and would always go to Lucas B & B 24-hour café on Oak Lawn either before or after each game. We would pass a beautiful, boarded-up building on the corner of Harry Hines and Oak Lawn on our way to the cafe, and I would actually turn in my seat to look at it, and would always think what a great building it was, and how someone should do something with it. It always called to me.
Little did I know that I would soon be living in Dallas and would eventually be working in that very place. When the big recession hit in the mid-1980’s, Texas took the brunt of it, especially the oil and gas industry. Almost overnight, our clients dropped away, but there was one client left; the Dallas Cowboys, so we packed up and moved to Dallas. I went to work at a computer company but knew I wanted to get back to my roots in the arts, so one Sunday morning, I picked up the newspaper and looked at the employment ads (so old-fashioned in our internet age but that was how we did it back then). I found a blind ad that said “Arts Administrator wanted for new performing arts facility” so I called for an appointment. As soon as the project and the building were described to me, I got a funny feeling in the pit of my stomach. I knew exactly which building it was, and I was determined to get the job. Somehow I knew it was meant to be, and even though the interview process took months, I always knew deep down inside that I would get this job and it would be amazing. And it has been.
Looking back now on the 30 years that I have been here, I can honestly say that I have loved all of it – good times and bad. The reason is the amazing, wonderful people that I have the privilege of working with every day. The artists, arts managers, founders, donors, patrons, board members, volunteers – everyone. And also my wonderful staff partners who give 110 percent every day. It has taken more than a village to make this a success, and I am so grateful to all the people who played a part in growing this arts center. I still get a thrill every morning when I drive up the driveway and see the building. If I won the lottery tomorrow, I would still do this job because it’s truly the best job in the world, and I am so lucky to be here.”
– Joanna St. Angelo, Sammons Enterprises Executive Director
On March 1st, 2018, The Sammons Center for the Arts celebrated the 30th Anniversary of the Center as well as Joanna’s fearless leadership and dedication to the Dallas Arts community.
I started the jazz program at the University of Minnesota Duluth in 1973, and moved to Texas in 77. I have a great jazz big band here in the Dallas area, and the Sammons is not interested and they have never even heard us. Come on Duluth, help us out. Lots of Pecos River Brass on YouTube.
Thank you, Joanna, for all that you have done and do for our community. Sammons Center for the Arts is an outstanding model organization thanks to you! It’s been a great privilege to get to know you and to work with you in service of the Arts in Dallas. Thank you for sharing your story!
Joanna, I loved reading this! Great!!