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In 2010, the watchword among Austin creatives was 'collaboration'

Who made the big stories of 2010 in Austin's creative scene? Each of the individual artistic disciplines can lay claim to its share. The visual arts delivered a one-two punch of dynamically reinvented venue openings in the fall: the Visual Arts Center on the University of Texas campus, built by Lake|Flato from the bones of the Art Building's old exhibition galleries, and Arthouse, its historic HQ Downtown given an inventive makeover by Lewis.Tsurumaki.Lewis. And it made front-page headlines when the Austin Museum of Art finally sold the Downtown block where it's long dreamed of building a permanent facility and scored an international coup when UT's Ransom Center gained stewardship of the 200,000-plus Magnum Photos archive. Theatre and dance both saw the national spotlight turned their way, the former with the Spalding Gray archives landing in Austin (the Ransom Center again); the Rude Mechanicals' tour of The Method Gun to Louisville, Ky., Boston, and Columbus, Ohio; and, sadly, the passing of preeminent theatre historian Oscar Brockett; the latter with recognition for local dance pioneers Acia Gray (the American Tap Dance Foundation's Hoofer Award), Sally Jacques (a chapter in the book Site Dance), and Deborah Hay (a $50,000 United States Artists fellowship and an academic symposium on her work at UT). Classical music, meanwhile, made more international connections, with Conspirare scoring a Dutch Grammy for its CD Requiem; UT's Butler Opera Center commissioning a new opera from Mexican composer Daniel Catán for its namesake patrons, Ernest and Sarah Butler; and the Austin Classical Guitar Society bringing hundreds of classical guitarists from around the world to Austin for the Guitar Foundation of America's annual convention and guitar competition.

But as noteworthy as these events are, what the disciplines or individual entities within them did separately may not be as significant as what they did together. The year saw more of the city's arts groups and artists teaming up, often in groundbreaking new ways. Whether it was a single creative project, such as the first performance together of Indian classical dance masters Gina Lalli, Anuradha Naimpally, and Vinitha Subramanian or Tapestry Dance Company's collaboration with spoken word master Zell Miller III; a business partnership, like the one Texas Performing Arts entered into with the Long Center to present Broadway Across America touring shows; an organizational collaboration, such as the Austin Lyric Opera/Austin Chamber Music Center co-production of the opera The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat or the Fusebox Festival/Art City Austin joint presentation of Magda Sayeg's guerilla knitting installations; or a huge, long-term initiative such as the New Works Theater Community, which unites 18 organizations and 11 independent artists and scored a $90,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, local artists discovered how they could grow and become stronger by partnering with others. The Austin Classical Guitar Society even made partnerships with its fellow arts groups the cornerstone of the GFA convention it hosted, involving everyone from the Austin Symphony Orchestra and Butler School of Music to the Biscuit Brothers and Master Pancake Theater. The year also saw the City Council finally approve the CreateAustin plan, arguably the ultimate example of collaborative work by Austin's creatives. The plan's vision of our city's creative future was built on the idea of working together, and 2010 proved that we're well down the road toward it.

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Robert Faires, Sept. 11, 2009

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Austin arts scene, Arthouse, Austin Museum of Art, Visual Arts Center, Rude Mechs, Rude Mechanicals, Ransom Center, Oscar Brockett, Acia Gray, Sally Jacques, Deborah Hay, Conspirare, Butler School of Music, Austin Classical Guitar Society

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