Last week I attended the conference "Creating Ways" which focused on San Antonio's creative economy. About 400 local creative minds were in attendance at the event, which raised a plethora of questions in the local and not so local arts community.
The consensus was that the major problem in the creative community was a lack of funds. Texas is far behind other states when it comes to the arts. According to the Texas Commission on the Arts strategic plan for 2007-2011 (go download the document for yourself: www.arts.state.tx.us/tca/11plan/tcaplan11.pdf) the TCA's budget for fiscal year 2006/2007 was $10,106,537 million. Not too bad, right? For the 2006/2007 FY Florida was funded $362.7 million. It's insane, yes, we know.
It is also noted that Texas along with 11 other states are funded at significantly lower levels than they were in FY 2002. Interesting, indeed. According to Tom Frost III, chair for the Cultural Collaborative Implementation committee, the impact the arts have on our city is $1.2 billion with 21,000 permanent jobs in the creative community. (The TCA strategic plan adds that over $319 million in wages to 11,888 employees which generated more than $2.2 million in local sales taxes.)
With talks of bringing an art center to the city, Texas sure better up our allocated budget in the near future. It's sad to note that San Antonio is the largest city in US that doesn't have a performance arts center. Sure, we have venues such as the Majestic Theater, the Carver Community Cultural Center, and Jump-Start Performance, Co., to name a few but these spaces only facilitate certain kinds of performances. What the city truly needs is one venue to house all kind of arts related performance. Image the possibilities—on Monday a ballet recital, Tuesday a musical performance, Wednesday a visual artists presentation, Thursday a dance group and Friday an opera— all in one venue!
Baby steps are being made to gain more attention to the arts in the local and national level. While at the conference we received a sneak peak of the new website Sahearts.com (which is expected to go live in the coming weeks) Frost and his associates expect to raise awareness about activities in the cultural sector.