Here are the best Arts Access stories of 2023

The year is coming to an end, which means it’s time to look back at our top stories of 2023.

From low rider culture to the opening of Meow Wolf in Grapevine, the Arts Access team covers art and culture at the intersection of access and equity.

We looked at page views, social media engagement and which stories best exemplified our mission to determine our best stories of the year.

Elias Valverde II

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The Dallas Morning News

Alyssa Nguyen is a food influencer and mother who lives in Northlake, Texas with her husband and two sons, Adam, 1, and AJ, 4. She moved from California to Texas in 2021.

A North Texas mom embraces the messiness of life and already has 2.1 million followers on TikTok

This social media profile of Alissa Nguyen aka Gaming Foodie has been viewed by over 40,000 readers. She reached a wide audience on multiple platforms with a digital story, a radio story, a discussion on the Dallas Morning News’ Eat Drink DFW podcast, and an Instagram collaboration with the Gaming Foodie herself. The story reveals who the Gaming Foodie is and where phrases like “black-peppy” come from.

Atelier Tower in downtown Dallas on Friday, May 21, 2021. (Lola Gomez/The Dallas Morning News)

Lola Gomez

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The Dallas Morning News

Atelier Tower in downtown Dallas on Friday, May 21, 2021. (Lola Gomez/The Dallas Morning News)

Flora Lofts promised low-cost housing for Dallas artists. What went wrong?

Affordable housing has been a hot topic of discussion since housing prices have skyrocketed. But long before that, the city had been talking about building affordable housing for artists. Flora Lofts promised to be that. This feature documents the breakdown of an affordable housing initiative for artists and what it means for artists still trying to make it in Dallas. Part of the role of Arts Access is to focus on when arts initiatives fail, not just when things go right – this story does just that. This is part of our series exploring how the North Texas art economy is doing.

Meow Wolf Grapevine's The Real Unreal stage at Grapevine Mills in Grapevine on Thursday, June 29, 2023.

Juan Figueroa

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The Dallas Morning News

Meow Wolf Grapevine’s The Real Unreal stage at Grapevine Mills in Grapevine on Thursday, June 29, 2023.

First Look Inside Meow Wolf’s Fascinating Exhibit Opening July 14th at Grapevine Mills

One of the biggest North Texas art headlines of the year was the opening of Meow Wolf in Grapevine. The immersive art company has inspired a huge fan base across the country with its whimsical, otherworldly experiences that resonate with children, teens and adults. For one of our most viewed stories of the year, Arts Access got an exclusive look at “The Real Unreal” and shared it with our readers.

Sisters Mariah (left) and Mercedes Mata ride in 'La Mera Mera', a 1984 Mercedes Chevrolet Monte Carlo.

Lisbeth Powers

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The Dallas Morning News

Sisters Mariah (left) and Mercedes Mata ride in ‘La Mera Mera’, a 1984 Mercedes Chevrolet Monte Carlo.

These Latina sisters continue their uncle’s legacy with the Dallas Lowriders

Mariah and Mercedes Matta grew up watching their uncle and father ride lowriders. But seeing female drivers was rare. Now the two sisters continue that legacy. This feature’s powerful narrative and visuals help readers understand the rich culture and community of the Dallas Lowriders Club. It also highlights the growing influence of female lowriders in the male-dominated landscape. Our lowrider coverage continued later in the year when we profiled an Oak Cliff man who built a miniature lowrider track in his backyard on Instagram. This movie got the most views of any of our Instagram posts this year.

Raquel Blake dances during the Whose Game is it Anyway drag show on Wednesday, April 12, 2023, at The Round-Up Saloon and Dance Hall in Dallas.

Raquel Blake dances during the Whose Game is it Anyway drag show on Wednesday, April 12, 2023, at The Round-Up Saloon and Dance Hall in Dallas.

‘I could lose everything’: Dallas drag performers say Texas bills could affect their jobs

In response to the ongoing dialogue about Texas bills targeting drag, this story examines the issue at the intersection of politics and art. It explores how legislation can impact drag performers’ livelihoods as entertainers and adds a new perspective to the political conversation.

Texas comedians of color discuss how identity defines their comedy.  (Left to right: Hector Cifuentes, Yola Lou, Paul Varghese.)

Texas comedians of color discuss how identity defines their comedy. (Left to right: Hector Cifuentes, Yola Lou, Paul Varghese.)

3 Texas Comedians on Accents, Stereotypes and Consequences

Hector Cifuentes, Paul Varghese and Yola Lou are masters at weaving their personal identities into their comedy. But as social norms continue to evolve, we spoke to the three comedians about what’s okay to joke about. At Arts Access, we strive to tell stories differently. That’s why we hosted this comedy roundtable with three Texas comedians on Instagram Live. They each talk about different topics from the generational divide in comedy to accents to stereotypes.

Arts Access is an arts journalism collaboration supported by The Dallas Morning News and KERA.

This community-funded journalism initiative is funded by the Better Together Fund, Carol & Don Glendenning, City of Dallas OAC, The University Texas at Dallas, Communities Foundation of Texas, The Dallas Foundation, Eugene McDermott Foundation, James & Gayle Halperin Foundation, Jennifer & Peter Altabeff and The Meadows Foundation. The news and KERA retain full editorial control over Arts Access journalism.

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