Don’t take the arts in Austin for granted. Because it wasn’t always this way.
During the past few weeks, I’ve rediscovered Austin’s arts. Not that I ignored them during the past 10 years. But with everything else going on in this city, it’s not easy to focus on one thing at a time.
I’m now reminded that Austin is home to first-rate symphony, opera, ballet and choral ensembles, along with equally potent theater, dance and performance troupes, art museums, community arts groups and public art projects.
Thirty years ago, Austin artists showed enormous creativity. The scene crackled with energy. But it lacked top leadership, revenues and facilities. Those have arrived — or are on the way.
A search of GuideStar.org reveals that, since the last time I checked 10 years ago, Austin arts groups have doubled, tripled or in some cases quadrupled their revenues.
No longer the skinny teen that needed reassurance and safeguarding. Rather the arts have reached a sort of gorgeous maturity that will always need steady reporting, storytelling and celebrating from all sorts of writers.
I was reminded of this at a matinee performance of Ballet Austin’s “Belle Redux: A Tale of Beauty and the Beast,” packed as it was with every stripe of Austinite.
I do not hesitate to call Stephen Mills‘ and Graham Reynolds‘ ballet a masterpiece. Every moment was riveting, ravishing. It dealt with the emotional residue of sex in a way that made me shiver and, in the end, weep.
After the show, an Austin artist approached me at the H-E-B.
“Thank you so much for writing about the ballet the other day,” she said. “I haven’t paid enough attention to them and your article made me want to go. I adored the show. I won’t ignore them from now on.”
My own reporting interests still encompass a wide swath of Austin — social, historical, literary, etc. — but I won’t blink when it comes to exalting the arts whenever appropriate.