Since I’ve been in Austin, I can’t help to notice the wave the city is making to move forward as a community where the city government and the arts community are working together. As you venture through downtown, you can see how the different art exhibits, theatre productions and music venues really make you feel as if you’re in the middle of a cultural phenomena. This can be explained by the support that the citizens and the local government have toward the arts community here in Austin.
One of the organizations working to continue the city in this direction is called The Austin Equation. This organization has created a model to allow a community to create the experience that in return sets the scene (C+E=S). In order to get that, the entire community, not just the art community, or the theatre community, or the political community; everyone must get involved. When this happens, then Austin can grow into what is known as the “Be Yourself City” because all these communities are working together to create that scene.
Another organization here in Austin, The Austin Creative Alliance, is also helping to make Austin a scene to be yourself. The Austin Creative Alliance is a nonprofit performing arts service organization. In order to be successful, they have to have the right balance of arts community, audience community and political community which takes a lot of work. It takes constant due diligence to reach the goals that The Austin Creative Alliance has to help the community continue to thrive as such a culturally rich metropolis and the leadership there definitely has what it takes.
As an observer of Austin for a little over a week, I saw the signs to what makes Austin so unique and culturally forward. The largest sign that I saw was all of the street art. This ventured from graffiti art to sidewalk art; all having its own purpose and acknowledgements. Some of my favorites are in this article. What a city does with its outdoor art space says a lot about what it intends to do with its growth as well as what the city is trying to say about itself. Many cities would not allow such murals or statements but Austin wants all its culture to be seen and keep it out in the open for everyone to appreciate. I think that is what I loved most about my trip to Austin. That ability in this community reveals the security to show all of itself out in the open while saying, “You can be who you want here!”
Like many of the country, Austin is fighting budget cuts, constant changing regulations and great changes as technology and transportation evolve but the community is moving forward as one. The rest of the country may want to take notice to this model and make adjustments: Of course it won’t work for every city, but some equation of it is definitely worth a try. I greatly enjoyed meeting the people in the community of Austin and will from now on think of it as a great small city that is ever growing, ever evolving and ever humming. As the slogan says “Keep Austin Weird!” Keeping it weird does not in any way mean not keeping it fresh. Fresh and innovative can definitely be weird.