San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas
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December 10th, 2008
Commission helps local artists

Serving in an advisory role to the city of San Marcos, the Arts Commission believes growth in the community should be inclusive of artistic excellence, advancement of arts education, and cultural improvements. Looking ahead toward the growth and change in San Marcos, the Arts Commission is in the beginning stages of developing an Arts Master Plan, scheduled to be completed next year.Created by city ordinance in 1998, with members appointed by the city council, the Arts Commission provides oversight for expenditure of the city hotel occupancy tax. The 2007/2008 revised city budget allocated 4.5 percent or $55,462 of the hotel tax for arts funding.

Fifty percent of the arts funding is used for the installation of permanent art. Past installations include: the Hays County Memorial Statue, Police and Fire statues, Tonkowa Memorial Statue, and Jay C. Hays Statue. The remaining 50 percent is used for projects or events that promote arts and tourism. Summer in the Park Music Series, Sights & Sounds of Christmas, Eddie Durnham Jazz Festival, Fiesta del Mariachi, and the Walker’s Gallery have all received funding through the arts commission.

In a budget proposal submitted to the Mayor, City Council, and city manager, the Arts Commission states, “The coming years will be a time of growth and change in our community. Now is the time to plan for the inclusion of artistic and cultural improvements in San Marcos. Quality of life, cultural heritage and diversity, economic development, and tourism will all benefit from a well-thought Arts Master Plan that is crafted with the input from the community and adopted by the City Council.”

“We’re at a point where we have an opportunity to see improvements with a focus on the arts,” said staff liaison and recreation manager, Lisa Morris. “Many of the events held in San Marcos bring in tourism.”

Morris continued saying, “As part of the Arts Master Plan, the arts commission will be gathering opinions and thoughts from public meetings with artists, gallery owners, and the general ‘art-loving’ public. We will be able to learn what we can do to improve our community through the arts and how we can best provide for arts and culture.”

“Based on what I’m hearing from artists in the community, a central location dedicated for the purpose of arts and culture is needed. We have a lot of artists in our community working each day as a hobby or trying to make a living as an artist. What we don’t have is a single point of contact…there isn’t cohesiveness among art groups. We are at a turning point. We need to get groups mobilized and talking among themselves. I am hopeful this will improve,” said Morris.

Art Commission Advisory Board meetings are held quarterly at the Grant Harris Jr. building. The public is encouraged to attend and share their input.

Artists and groups interested in grant funding can find applications and guidelines on the city of San Marcos website under Parks and Rec. Funding for the following art types include: instrumental and vocal music, dance, drama, folk art, creative writing, architecture, design and allied fields, painting, sculpture, photography, graphic and craft arts, motion pictures, radio, television, tape and sound recording and other arts related to presentation, execution, and exhibition of these major art forms. Mini-grants are also available for emerging artists and organizations.

by Elisa Laraia

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