Blog Posts for Texas

Thank you to the many people who have been blog contributors to, and readers of ArtsBlog over the years. ArtsBlog has long been a space where we uplifted stories from the field that demonstrated how the arts strengthen our communities socially, educationally, and economically; where trends and issues and controversies were called out; and advocacy tools were provided to help you make the case for more arts funding and favorable arts policies.

As part of Americans for the Arts’ recent Strategic Realignment Process, we were asked to evaluate our storytelling communications platforms and evolve the way we share content. As a result, we launched the Designing Our Destiny portal to explore new ways of telling stories and sharing information, one that is consistent with our longtime practice of, “No numbers without a story, and no stories without a number.”

As we put our energy into developing this platform and reevaluate our communications strategies, we have put ArtsBlog on hold. That is, you can read past blog posts, but we are not posting new ones. You can look to the Designing Our Destiny portal and our news items feed on the Americans for the Arts website for stories you would have seen in ArtsBlog in the past.

ArtsBlog will remain online through this year as we determine the best way to archive this valuable resource and the knowledge you’ve shared here.

As ever, we are grateful for your participation in ArtsBlog and thank you for your work in advancing the arts. It is important, and you are important for doing it.

María Muñoz-Blanco

Radio Lessons

Posted by María Muñoz-Blanco, Dec 06, 2011 1 comment

María Muñoz-Blanco

María Muñoz-Blanco

Almost a century ago, a gentleman by the name of Henry Garrett (then superintendent of the Dallas Police & Fire Signal System) installed a 50-watt radio transmitter in the central fire station to transmit fire alarms to the other Dallas fire stations.

Between fire alarms, Garrett connected the transmitter to a phonograph and played his collection of classical music recordings. Thus began the life of WRR, which 90 years later (and with a much, much stronger signal) is one of the divisions of the City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs.

WRR 101.1 FM is a 24/7 classical music station, operating under an FCC commercial radio license. Because of this commercial license, WRR is what we call in the city an enterprise fund: the station sells advertising to generate revenues to cover its operating expenses, pay for capital upgrades, and keep an operating cash reserve.

The station plays an important role as the voice of the arts in North Texas, providing a venue for call-to-action advertising for arts organizations. I never expected to be in the radio business, but I find that many of the strategies used by the station to meet its bottom line can be successfully applied elsewhere in the agency and by our local arts organizations.

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Ms. Carrie Brown

Coming Up For Air: A Pep Talk for the New Year

Posted by Ms. Carrie Brown, Feb 11, 2013 0 comments

Ms. Carrie Brown

Carrie Brown Carrie Brown


So it is the start of a new year; a time to refresh, refocus and re-energize. The City of Austin Art in Public Places Program recently held a staff retreat where we did just that. In the last two years we have grown from two to seven staff members and with our full team assembled can effectively tackle the work before us. But there is more to it than just having enough resources to “get it done.” As public art administrators (or as I like to say “jacks-of-all-trades, masters-of-all!”), we also need periodic inspiration and creative endurance. The challenge is finding the time. At our staff retreat, we began the day with Show-and-Tell of our favorite projects and artists and current creative endeavors—and how refreshing it was! Show-and-tell got me thinking about not only what inspires me, but why, and the importance of spending time figuring it out. Here are a few things I came up with: As a person of short stature (my cousin’s daughter once asked if I had “grown all the way” after learning that I was in fact, an adult), I have always been drawn to objects that challenge one’s sense of scale—like the proposal for deer-shaped power lines or a three-story bear. To me, these massive objects are breathtaking and at this large-scale diminish the relevancy of our individual size.

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Felix Padron

Creating Access: Defining Neighborhoods As Destinations

Posted by Felix Padron, Dec 09, 2011 0 comments

Felix Padron

Felix Padron

I am excited about San Antonio in that it feels like the conversations are finally leading to a collective common ground.

For the past ten years or so, San Antonio has had its share of independent strategic planning efforts related to art and culture, and their relationship with inner-city revitalization, economic development, and tourism. Most of these plans have had little return on investment, in part because of a lack of clear vision and dedicated resources.

Now, however, the mayor’s SA2020 initiative may help jump-start strategies that had never seen the light of day but are still relevant in today's cultural environment. SA2020 has also signaled a new political willingness to shift from a passive planning mode to a more proactive "Just Do It" mindset. This is a good set of circumstances to pave the way for real transformation.

More important, the arts have reached credible acceptance throughout the community. Together with its various art & culture partners, the Office of Cultural Affairs (OCA) maintains a productive working relationship with city departments and agencies such as the Convention Visitors Bureau, Economic Development, International Affairs, the county, the San Antonio River Authority, and the Metropolitan Transit System. This level of engagement has given cultural organizations and artists a place at the table as the city and affiliated agencies all move forward with new, tangible initiatives.

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Mr. James M. LeFlore

Let Them Eat Cake (or Not)

Posted by Mr. James M. LeFlore, Feb 12, 2013 0 comments

Mr. James M. LeFlore

James LeFlore James LeFlore

In the Public Art Network (PAN), we all share and discuss our favorite recipes for success, i.e. “best practices.” And to make a comparison to the art of baking a delectable cake (imagine your favorite style here), there should be no surprise when you go off the recipe or use a stale batch of ingredients that your cake will come out of the oven tasting like the mess you put in it.

Agree with me or not, but I am starting to think that the majority of the general public sees the value of public art in a comparable manner to that of a slice of cake. Some are truly in love, seeing public art like a treat to be consumed in celebration of all the shared experiences of our lives. Others just have no sweet tooth for public art, they may be under a strict diet, or worse they blame cake and/or art for the destruction of our children’s future-children.

Maybe public art isn’t particularly suited as an entrée or even a side dish, but is good being a dessert—the last and memorable item on the menu.

I have observed a trend emerging in best practices. Public art has shown how we as cake makers can produce more and better recipes; how we can enlist more cooks and serve more customers; but before we eat more, let’s ensure we are all healthy and hit the gym.

So, first we need to define our trouble spots that require the most work. Here are a few of my proposed exercises (best practices) for the field, just to get us going: 

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Tim Mikulski

On the Road: Extolling the Virtue of the Arts, Tourism, & Business Partnerships

Posted by Tim Mikulski, Jan 27, 2012 0 comments

Tim Mikulski

President Obama

President Obama speaks about his new tourism plan in Disney World.

Our President & CEO, Bob Lynch, is always on the road extolling the virtues of the arts and arts education on behalf of our members and the general public.

Recently, Bob spent a whirlwind week talking about tourism, business partnerships, and advocacy in Orlando, Houston, and Miami.

In Orlando, Bob was sworn in for a two-year term as a member of the United States Travel and Tourism Board. He was honored to receive the appointment and feels it is a great opportunity for the organization and the field.

The U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board serves as the advisory body to the Secretary of Commerce on matters relating to the travel and tourism industry in the United States. The board consists of up to 32 members that advise the Secretary of Commerce on government policies and programs that affect the U.S. travel and tourism industry, offers counsel on current and emerging issues, and provides a forum for discussing and proposing solutions to industry-related problems.

Little did he know that he and the Advisory Board would also have the opportunity to experience a critical press conference held by President Obama (right in the middle of Disney World’s Main Street USA - incidentally a 2011 BCA10 honoree) in which the President put forth his plan to utilize tourism to create jobs and bolster the American economy.

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