The Austin Chronicle


By Robert Faires, January 16, 2004, Arts

At Least We're Still the State Capital

This time last year, Austin's then Mayor Gus Garcia signed an agreement proudly accepting the designation of our fair city as an American Capital of Culture for 2004. The idea was that for the whole of this year Austin would be showcasing itself as a hotbed of the arts with a string of ceremonies, marketing initiatives, and special events, just as cities in Mexico, Chile, Brazil, and Panama have done since the program was launched four years ago as an offshoot of a similar program in Europe. Now, here we are two weeks from what was to be the official ceremony kicking off Our Culture Year, and, well, current Mayor Will Wynn has said, "Thanks but no thanks" to the international honor. Seems the city couldn't find the funds to support the designation -- roughly $5 million to $10 million that would pay for a year's worth of promotional activities and affiliated programs. While it's hardly surprising that the city had trouble finding that kind of scratch, given the scramble for cash for the current budget -- even with help from a committee of community leaders seeking private support -- it's a particular shame since Austin would have been the first city in the U.S. chosen by the Organization of the American Capital of Culture to hold this distinction. Ah well, some other year.

Adios, Norkunas

Texas Folklife Resources has lost its executive director. Martha Norkunas resigned in December to work on two public humanities projects based in the state: the Project in Interpreting the Texas Past and the Women's Commemorative Project. Her 16 months at TFR were busy ones, raising $250,000 to increase equity in TFR's home on South Congress and turning the building's gallery into a retail space for the fair trade nonprofit store Ten Thousand Villages; developing the new Web site and templates for folklore virtual galleries; and creating a database for the organization's hundreds of field tapes, among other accomplishments. For more information, call 441-9255.

Not Quite Always, Patsy

This week, busy actress Lana Dieterich was supposed to be opening a new show -- as one-half of the cast in the Zachary Scott Theatre Center's production of the theatrical tribute Always ... Patsy Cline. But a flare-up of post-polio complications that required surgery on one arm necessitated her withdrawal from the production last week, at least for now. With no time left to lose, director Dave Steakley held a round of emergency auditions and cast Austin Circle of Theaters Executive Director Latifah Taormina. Break a leg, Latifah, and get well soon, Lana! For more information, call 476-0541 or visit

The Winner Is ... 'Pageant'!

Congratulations to Naughty Austin on the first theatrical hit of the year! The company's production of the beauty contest spoof Pageant, with men masquerading as female contestants, has seen more than 1,500 patrons and has extended the run until Jan. 24. For more info, call 472-2787 or visit

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