Art Works Blog

Art Works in Texas

Austin, Texas

Houston's Craft Garden is one of the many projects supported by the Texas Commission on the Arts. Photo courtesy Houston Center for Contemporary Craft

As I listened to NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman address the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies 2010 Assembly in Austin earlier this month, I was struck by his comments about how the arts create vibrant communities where people choose to live at a time when technology and changes in corporate culture make it possible to live virtually anywhere.

In Texas, as across the country, many creative organizations provide arts and cultural services that expand far beyond the walls of a theater, concert hall, or museum. The Texas Commission on the Arts (TCA) is working to address the many challenges facing our country by investing in creative solutions and innovative approaches.

TCA Arts Respond grants focus on project support for arts programs that specifically address education, health and human services, economic development, public safety, and natural resources. Here are just a few examples:

Tellebration, a storytelling project in public schools and libraries, ?got students excited about reading and coming to the library.?

During the New Art Kinnections project, conducted by a modern dance company in a home for abused and neglected children, participants ?learned to empathize with the thoughts and feelings of others.?

The Craft Garden, a kinetic clay installation that eroded and transformed into native plants such as flax and cotton that will someday become paper and fabric, served as a classroom for science, history, economics, and art.

Project Discovery, a theater-based education program, resulted in $39,000 in donations to the area food bank. Students attending the performances remarked that they ?had no idea that the cost of a soda could buy two complete meals.?

Performances at the Georgetown Palace Theatre positively impacted the area economy. ?Most of the downtown restaurants want to advertise in our playbill. Many places offer special deals for pre-theatre diners.?

The result? A quality of life that is attractive to businesses and a highly skilled workforce. Educational opportunities to help students become creative, innovative thinkers who master academic content and are better prepared for college and career tracks. Marketable cultural tourism destinations that attract visitors and preserve culture.

Another TCA grant category, Arts Create, provides two-year operational support to established arts organizations in Texas. TCA funding helps these groups keep their doors open so they may conduct the business they do best. As Chairman Landesman noted, art jobs are real jobs, and they contribute to local economies just like any other business.

At TCA, we invest in the creative industries because they are a direct link to providing and equipping a creative workforce and engaging people in local communities in a meaningful way.

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