Arts, culture, and creativity are essential keys to the city’s unique and distinctive identity and are valued as vital contributors to our community’s character, quality of life and economy. – From Imagine Austin Comprehensive Plan – Vision Statement.
During the month of October, we asked the community about the role government and public agencies should play in keeping, developing, and sustaining Austin’s arts and creativity. We set out to hear how people think resources should be dedicated to arts and creativity, and how to ensure these activities are accessible to all. Conversations addressed possible solutions to identified problems, and the role the City of Austin government, AISD, and Capital Metro could play in implementing those solutions. Read more background details here.
Conversation Feedback Summary
Everyone agreed that arts and culture are an integral part of Austin’s identity and what has made the city a destination for tourism, new residents, and artists themselves. Another area of general consensus was that the arts and culture are under threat as the city continues to grow and inequalities continue to widen. This was expressed in a number of ways. One group lamented how other forms of art beyond music rarely get significant support and exposure from the city. Another commented on the state of arts education in the public school system and discussed the educational and developmental benefits that were being lost as arts funding dries up. The difficulty of accessing and affording exposure to the arts was raised, as was the difficulty artists were having in affording to live in the city as the cost of doing so continues to rise.
Several themes emerged as groups discussed possible solutions to the issues they identified. One was that AISD should create partnerships with local artists to promote art education and the arts throughout the school system, in addition to supporting the arts and arts education throughout all grade levels. Collaborating with local artists provides students with immediate access to practitioners, role models, and mentors in the arts. An emphasis on local artists was also brought up with regards to the Art in Public Places program. There was a sense that the city could do more supporting local Austin artists and smaller venues throughout the city, as opposed to the major performing art centers downtown and major music festivals that the city is known for. Using funds from major events and the budget for small grants spread among the arts and small venues was an idea floated by one participant.
Participants also brought up the difficulty that many had simply getting to venues, and that we need improve transportation options to major entertainment areas, enable access to those in lower socio-economic circumstances, and encourage, promote, and expand the arts throughout each neighborhood so that Austinites can have access to the arts where they live.
Arts and creativity are clearly important to Austinites, and they want to see the City and public agencies do more to enable, encourage, promote, and educate artists and the public to make and enjoy art where they live, learn, and play throughout the city.
Final Update - CapMetro - July 2016
Since these conversations took place, Capital Metro has partnered with a variety of arts organizations, including the City of Austin’s Drawing Lines project, the Creative Action mural project, the Austin Youth Film Festival and the Runway Underground project. Capital Metro has also developed an “art from the Train” self-guided tour and is currently working with the City of Austin, the Convention Center and the Downtown Austin Alliance on a programming plan for the expansion of the Downtown Metro Rail Station that will include elements of public and performing arts.