houston arts: damn straight

Arts have $600M effect on Houston

Houston Business Journal – by Christine Hall Reporter

Cultural arts may not bring in as much money as the oil and gas industry, but a report released Monday shows the sector is a valuable part of the Houston economy.

“The Business of the Arts: A Look into The Economic Impact of the Arts on the Houston Region” showed that in 2004, the nonprofit arts in Houston brought in $626.3 million, supported 14,115 full-time jobs and generated $69.5 million in local and state government revenue.

Mayor Bill White, at a luncheon, said Houston is one of the up-and-coming venues in the arts world. “We want people 50 years or 100 years from now to talk about the explosion in Houston arts,” he said.

The study also found that the 9.2 million people who said they attended an arts and cultural event in 2004 was twice the number of people attending events related to Houston’s three major league professional sports teams in 2005.

The 1.6 million visitors to Houston who attended cultural events in 2004 spent $132 million in addition to the cost of their tickets, the survey found.

“Houston is not just a good places for the arts, it is one of the best,” said Larry Faulkner, president of Houston Endowment Inc., a philanthropic institution founded in 1937 by Jesse and Mary Gibbs Jones.

“The arts are a powerful business asset and one we need to have for Houston to remain a leading city in the future and to keep its extraordinary economic vitality,” he said.
Volunteerism was also a big factor in Houston’s cultural events, according to the study. More than 34,000 individuals volunteered for arts and cultural organizations in 2004, contributing more than 650,000 hours worth more than $11.2 million.

Funding for the project, consulted by St. Louis-based AMS Planning & Research, was provided by The Brown Foundation, Houston Endowment and The Wortham Foundation.

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~ by ladamesansregrets on September 25, 2007.

3 Responses to “houston arts: damn straight”

  1. Dear Christine

    I appreciate that you are demonstrating progress on the Houston art scene. But it needs to go a long way before it can truly claim to be a place for artist. We rarely see street corner artist drawing people or places, or that we have good quality galleries that has some exciting collection. Plus we need to bring some high profile exhibits from around the world like Terra cotta statues got by Los Angeles to bring Houston on the world map. I love houston but we have to be realistic to help Houston emerge as a true art center.

  2. Christine thanks you for your comment.

    John, I couldn’t disagree more. Houston is a wonderful place for artists. What Houston lacks is proper awareness and marketing. While the notion of artists painting on streetcorners is romantic, it is not realistic in a commuter city like ours- nor one that boasts our temperatures.

    Forgive me, but to suggest that there aren’t fantastic art happenings occuring every day is uninformed. However, sadly, one cannot be blamed for having that opinion- that is the consensus from the public. Perhaps I am prejudiced, but my organization posts countless gallery openings, exhibitions, and art events every day. Visit http://www.spacetaker.org.

    We have had PLENTY of high profile exhibits in Houston. One clear example: The MFAH was one of only 2 locales visited by MoMA’s Heroic Century collection, including undoubtedly some of the most impressive, iconic pieces in art history. On that note, the MFAH beat out every other art institution in the country in 2006 for charitable donations. The Menil boasts one of the most impressive surrealist and African art collections in the world. Between the MFAH, Menil, CAM, Lawndale, Diverseworks, Blaffer, etc., our art scene has room to grow- but it’s certainly nothing to sneeze at. The terra cotta statues are a treat to present, but the Bowers museum in LA (in which they are displayed) has a long way to go before it compares to the MFAH. (The MFAH’s Cheney exhibit displayed some of China’s most sought after CONTEMPORARY pieces- perhaps it’s more a question of tastes and programming?)

    That’s only visual art. We have one of the best ballet companies in the country- and an opera company that ranks #4 just under the Met, City Opera, and San Francisco.

    I recently sat in a meeting with the staff of Houston’s Fotofest in which they were relating a story about trying to pitch the recent Chinese Fotofest exhibition to CBS. Given the scope and scale of the project, the newsdesk was excited and ready to jump on the story… UNTIL they were reminded that it was in Houston, at which point they decided they were uninterested. Apparently, the media is bound and determined to paint Houston as a po-dunk oil town. It’s a prejudice and bias that we will continually fight until we start embracing and spreading the word about the wonderful arts culture we do indeed have here in Houston- to spread awareness even within our own city.

    I appreciate the sentiments you share, because you are not alone in them and it affords me an opportunity to respond. Houston has an odd dilemma- we fight the perception that we’re a cowboy oil town within our country…and even within our own city. Yet, art collectors around the world see the value in Houston. I truly wish that instead of succumbing to those prejudices (and even perpetuating them), Houstonians would look a little closer to see the treasures under their noses.

  3. Christine thanks for taking the time to write a detailed response. I did not mean to say that efforts are not being made. But the fact remains that Houston has been unable to attract top talent. Why? because the artists do not find enough wealthy patrons to pay the price for their work. Recently i went to an art show in La Jola California. It was held on the portion of a major street. The artists were from around the world and the average price for a piece was in 10000s of dollars.

    If artists are pricing their pieces at that level on a street fest that means that the buyers are there. Unless we project Houston as a place where there are enough patrons we will not be able to attract top talent.

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