If You Build It ...
Ah, you know the rest
By Robert Faires, Fri., Jan. 2, 2009
How well the Long Center truly fits into Austin's cultural landscape and whether it will fully realize its potential won't be known for some time. But one thing we do know eight months into this facility's life: Austin arts groups are realizing their potential when it comes to programming there. Companies across the cultural spectrum have been producing ambitious work there with impressive results. The lists in this issue tell the tale: companies from the Rude Mechs to Ballet Austin to ProArts Collective being hailed for work produced at the Long Center. And audiences agree; they have been packing the house for many of these homegrown shows. That's as encouraging a sign as the center's completion.
The Long Center wasn't the only arts story this year. The Butlers gave the UT School of Music a stunning $55 million. Some long-planned spaces moved forward (Arthouse's renovation, Zach Theatre's third space, Austin Museum of Art's new building), some venues debuted (KidsActing's Center Stage Theatre, TexArts' Morris Theater), and some departed (so long and thanks, Gallery Lombardi and Arts on Real). And we lost some dear friends (Raúl Salinas, Glynda Cox, Alan Pappé, Francis Hodge, Frank Delvy). Still, 2008 was about crossing a line, moving forward, growing up. The Long Center gave us a new measure of what we can be culturally, and even with the economic collapse now leaving the future uncertain for Austin's artists, there's no turning back from that.