Plans for the third annual Austin ArtWorks Festival are already underway. -- Herald file photo
Plans for the third annual Austin ArtWorks Festival are already underway. -- Herald file photo

New year, new optimism

Published 7:01am Monday, January 6, 2014

3. Arts are blossoming toward a big 2014 with ArtWorks, merger

It’s looking to be a colorful year for the arts in Austin.

The Austin Area Commission for the Arts is on the verge of absorbing the Austin Area Art Center and opening the Austin ArtWorks Center at — if a deal is completed — the downtown bank building, 300 N. Main St.

The commission is still working on a lease agreement with the bank building’s owner, Patrick Bradley, but they have looked at alternate sites.

Regardless of the location, the plan is to hold a grand opening for the downtown arts center during the third ArtWorks Festival Aug. 23 and 24, 2014. The Commission for the Arts plans to launch a capital campaign for the ArtWorks Center in January or February with construction to renovate the location soon after.

The ArtWorks Center will include classroom space, studio space, gallery space and a wine bar. Jennie Knoebel, the executive director of the Paramount Theatre and the Austin Area Commission for the Arts, said they’ve received estimates from contractors about work to develop the space, and commission officials have a business plan for the center.

Along with the grand opening, Knoebel said, the ArtWorks Festival will be even bigger in 2014. The plan is to add more events based on participation from the public, like demonstrations and opportunities to interact with artists and artwork.

“A lot of people really enjoy those activities and to be able to get involved with creating artwork, so we’re exploring some more ideas so we can help make that happen,” she said.

Knoebel is also looking ahead to an exciting year at the Paramount Theatre, as officials will celebrate the theater’s 85th anniversary. The Paramount’s five Performance Series shows will all feature community outreach, bringing the performers to schools, senior homes and other places to expand the theater’s reach outside a single performance.

To celebrate the theater’s 85 years, the Paramount will take a step back in time to its days as a movie theater. The Paramount is kicking off the Paramount Movie Series at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 9, and they’ll show one movie each month, with a fundraising event in September to coincide with the anniversary.

Knoebel said the Austin ArtWorks Festival has created a wave of enthusiasm for the arts, and she hopes that momentum continues to grow.

“It is a very exciting time to be working on the arts in Austin,” Knoebel said. “I think since the ArtWorks Festival, there’s been this renewed interest in the arts in Austin.”

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