Creative Waco hosts arts workshop today

Supporters of the the letter of intent for Waco to become a designated Texas cultural arts district pose for a photo at the signing at the Waco Suspension Bridge last month. Creative Waco is spearheading the effort to make the city a Cultural District and is hosting a workshop today for arts organizers and businesses. Photo credit: Penelope Shirey

To become a Cultural District, a city needs artists, creators and independent business owners, people with new ideas and a passion for the place they live. Waco already has Magnolia Market, Wildland Supply Company, Dichotomy and other small businesses downtown, which are all owned and operated locally.

Creative Waco, which is spearheading Waco’s application for Cultural District status, wants to help other entrepreneurs find footing in the city. Today, the nonprofit is hosting, along with the Waco Convention and Visitor Bureau and the Waco Hippodrome, an Arts Funding and Leadership Development Day to help potential business owners find ways to thrive.

The workshop, which takes place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. today at the Hippodrome, will bring civic leaders and arts professionals together to discuss the importance of having the arts here and how to turn the dream of owning a business into something practical.

The workshop is sponsored by Texans for the Arts Foundation, which has put on similar events in Austin, Abilene and Galveston, among other Texas cities. Topics that the workshops typically include are fundraising for businesses and the arts, arts advocacy at the local government level and philanthropy efforts.

The program is intended to help those who run or hope to run arts organizations and businesses successfully navigate starting and maintaining their ideas.

“Waco is becoming known as a place where cool things happen and interesting things, from home furnishings to whiskey, are designed and made. This is exactly the kind of place that can and should be a cultural hub,” said Fiona Bond, the executive director of Creative Waco. “This event will give our creative individuals and organizations some great tools for success.”

Speakers include Ann S. Graham, the executive director of Texans for the Arts; State Representatives Charles “Doc” Anderson (R-Waco) and Kyle Kacal (R-Bryan); and Felix Padron, director of the Department of Culture and Creative Development in Texas.

“I think we are seeing more ad more cities recognizing the value and importance of investing in the arts and culture,” Padron said.

The speakers will help guests learn to cooperate with patrons of the arts and city officials to get their organizations off the ground.

Students were also invited to participate in the workshop, with discounted tickets used as an incentive to get them to start thinking through their own future ventures in business and the arts.

Waco Main Street manager Andrea Barefield attended a similar workshop put on by Texans for the Arts in Houston.

“Having founded a performing arts training organization in Houston, I’ve attended one of their workshops and can say without a doubt that if you are a champion of the arts, you need to be there,” Barefield said.