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austin's not perfect?

yeah, austin isn't perfect.
damn.
what was i thinking?

the land of opportunity
for people like me ...
creative, artistic, yet ...
an aging diamond in the rough,
stymied by perfectionism,
with too many passions,
lack of focus and impatience.
blue with idealistic dreams
of pushing beyond being green lite.

though i want to focus my goals
on helping a community
with its environmental issues
and urban planning,
this post is about my love
of arts and culture.

wednesday evening, i went to the next installment
of the next american city urbanexus' lecture series, "the place for culture,"
featuring Michael Oden, Ph.D, graduate advisor for community
and regional planning at the University of Texas at Austin.
how art & culture can help a city's economic development.

the lecture, along with the four-person panel, focused
on austin has a reputation for being a great city
for all kinds of artists. both tourist and austinite believes
the myth.

myth, yes, today.
today, most local artists work either pro bono
or for far less than a living wage.
there is great competition here,
yet overall the artistic level is mediocre.
it's the rare artist who soars above the rest.
these few who do, leave austin for LA or NYC.

needless to say, i walked out of the presentation feeling sad.


as a neighborhood becomes hip,
it becomes developed, attracting higher wage "patrons,"
pricing the artists who made the area hip
need to move to a lower wage neighborhood.

in many cities, artist groups attract wealthy patrons
and donations from the large corporations housed here.
unfortunately, many corporations in austin aren't based here,
and may not feel the need to subsidize austin artists.

it was noted there aren't any people who have gone
on to find great success in LA or NYC, who have come back
to help support the local arts.

it must be noted that at least part of the commercial tax
funds local arts.

artists in austin don't have strong critical standards,
possibly because they have limited contact
with artists outside the local core or outside the city.
Dr. Oden compared the artist community here
as the AAA Farm Team for LA and NYC.
The quality of local art tends to cause local businesses
to look outside austin for a professional level of work.

it doesn't help artists in austin or the rest of texas,
that texas has placed 49th in its level
of funding arts and culture.

during a time of economic troubles,
government typically reduces or eliminates
its arts and culture funding, which makes the situation worse.

if a city wants to survive and thrive
it needs to support its arts community.
as should its state.

Oden notes how financially supporting arts and culture in a city will help a city:

  • Exporting artistic products and services brings income back into the city and provides exposure outside the city limits;
  • Tourism introduces out-of-towners to local artists and culture and brings income to the city;
  • Local consumption replaces imports. The circle begins and ends within the city;
  • Local companies utilizing local talents (ie., advertising and industrial design);
  • A strong art & culture community, with strong support, attracts and retains both skilled workers
    and higher end businesses.
The Place for Culture panelists were:
Ann Graham
, an independent arts and crafts professional, i believe, is active with CreateAustin.
Jason Neulander
, the founder and former Artistic Director of Salvage Vanguard Theater, has his ongoing project, "The Intergalactic Nemesis," currently touring the nation.
Beatrice Thomas, a fiber artist, who owns Flatbed Press Gallery and Studio Three screenprinting + design
Bobby Garza, percussionist for Maneja Beto and member of Austin's Live Music Task Force.

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