Archived Story

Arts getting renewed focus on expanding to other activities

Published 5:29pm Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Austin Area Commission for the Arts became a 501(c)3 organization in 1990.

Its mission was to renovate and restore the Historic Paramount Theatre and support the fine arts in Austin. After the spire was placed on the top of the building in 2007 marking the end of the restoration, the board of directors knew it was time to redirect the organization’s purpose.

A step in this direction came in 2011 when they hired me as their first full time executive director. The original goal for the position was to move forward the long anticipated Paramount expansion. Plans are for that project are still moving forward.

However, after being in the position for awhile it became apparent that there is a growing community need for the AACA to better fulfill the second part of their original mission.

The board decided to change the organization’s mission to identify, engage and support the development and advancement of diverse arts, entertainment, and cultural activities that benefit people in Austin and the surrounding area.

With this fresh mission in mind, I started exploring new ways to support the development of arts in our community beyond the Paramount walls. Almost serendipitously, Eric and Jerry Anfinson came forward with the idea of having an art festival in the historic downtown power plant to showcase how the space could be repurposed for creative activities.

With the tremendous help of numerous rockstar community members, the Austin ArtWorks Festival was born and has now become an official AACA program. Its success is only the beginning.

Now we want to expand further to encompass the visual arts, which was missing from our original programming. Over the next year, the AACA will be working with the Austin Area Art Center and the Vision 2020 Downtown Destination committee to build an art center in Downtown Austin.

As plans for that project move forward, the AACA board is going to be working to create a new identity for the organization that better matches its new purpose. In fact, even the content of this article will be shifting.

The focus will no longer be exclusively on Paramount activities, but will encompass the creative activities happening in our community and the impact they have on community member’s lives.

I am going to be taking a short hiatus from this article for a couple of weeks to refocus. Look for the article to return Labor Day weekend.

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