Culture Mavens Argue For More Art Support At Texas Exes Austin Professionals Event (Watch)

In an age of looming budget cuts, arts program are often first on the chopping block. That’s why it’s more important than ever to support and defend the arts. This was the consensus last night at the Texas Exes Austin Professionals’ “Cultured Austin: How the Arts Reflect Our Community.”

The event, one in a regular series hosted by TEAP, brought together 77 Texas Exes and a panel of four local arts leaders to discuss all things art in Austin.

David Wyatt, BA ’95, moderated the panel, which featured Cynthia Patterson, BA ’84, program director at Texas Performing Arts; Art Alliance Austin executive director Meredith Powell, BS ’99; Texas Cultural Trust development director Jennifer Ransom Rice, MA ’06, Life Member; and Austin Chronicle editor and SXSW cofounder Louis Black, MFA ’80.

“Not funding the arts is like stepping on a dollar to pick up a dime,” said Louis Black, who told the origin story of the Austin Chronicle as an example of how prioritizng artistic merit can lead to commercial success. “I get invited to business classes to talk about starting the Chronicle, and I’m never invited back,” Black laughed. “Because we didn’t have a business plan. We didn’t worry about making money, we worried about doing it right, and the money came later. It would sound naive, except that it worked.”

Much of the evening’s discussion centered around economic benefits brought by the arts to Austin. SXSW injects more than $100 million into the city yearly, and local arts festivals bring in hundreds of thousands more, said Meredith Powell. “It’s about fueling the ecosystem here,” said Powell. “The health of Austin’s creative community benefits us all, so supporting the arts is everyone’s responsibility.”

All four panelists also emphasized the often-understated value of arts education in schools. “In 2016, one in 12 Texas jobs will be in the arts,” said Jennifer Ransom Rice. “So youth programs are the future.”

One attendee asked what Austinities can do to voice support for the arts. “It’s simple,” said Powell. “Show up to events—go to concerts and plays and shows. And vote in local elections.”

The next TEAP event, “Delectable Austin: Food Trailers, Farmer’s Markets, and Fine Dining,” will be held Wednesday, Oct. 19.

Not yet a Texas Exes member? Learn more here.

Photos by Armando Vera


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