SA2020 and the Arts

Vision for 2020 on arts:

San Antonio leads the world as a creative community. San Antonio reflects a diverse range of artistic expression that builds on our rich cultural heritage. The arts are integral to our way of life for citizens of all ages and backgrounds. Public and private support spurs a renaissance of artistic creativity where a vibrant cultural economy flourishes. Contemporary art reflects the dynamic nature of San Antonio’s artistic, literary and cultural communities and movements.

DCCD – Department for Culture Creative Development conducted a survey in 2013 of the community. The objectives of the survey were to learn the nature and scope of San Antonians’ arts and cultural activities, and their opinions about a range of cultural issues. In other words, what do people now do, what do they think of those activities, and how can the city improve its cultural quality of life?

Key findings include:

• Respondents are culturally active and seek even more cultural engagement. They participate in four cultural activities more than others: visual arts, live music, downtown activities and public art. These had the greatest attendance, both in terms of any participation (one or more times per year) and frequent participation (seven or more times per year). They also had the highest ratings for quality and among the strongest desires to do more of that activity.

• Respondents express a strong desire across-the-board to do more arts and cultural activities. More than half of the respondents seek to do more of all types of activities, and eight activities had “do more” ratings of 70% or greater.

• 83% believe that arts and culture are important to making San Antonio recognized as a world-class center for the arts.

• SA2020 identified 12 areas that can help transform San Antonio into a world-class city. Respondents view arts and culture as an important contributor to all of them.

• A majority of San Antonians expresses moderate satisfaction with the city’s current arts and cultural life. However, there is a significant portion that is dissatisfied with the current arts and cultural life, suggesting an opportunity for better meeting their needs. Their
general level of satisfaction with San Antonio decreases in comparison with Texas, US and international cities.

• There is room for improvement in quality and satisfaction, in terms of the community’s perceptions. There are particular opportunities to better understand and meet the needs of a range of population groups, including couples with no children, singles and younger people. Respondents provide many specific suggestions for improvements in support for the arts and for an inclusive investment in cultural development that supports international standards of achievement.

• Respondents include a high proportion of volunteers and contributors to San Antonio arts and cultural organizations. Two-thirds of those who have not volunteered have never been asked. One third of all contributors gave between $100 and $500 in the past year.

• Respondents are almost all (96%) San Antonio residents and workers, and most residents are long-term. The survey also reached far beyond the SA2020 process; only one-third participated in SA2020.

Respondents were asked to provide their suggestions about arts and cultural changes that would help make San Antonio a world-class city. Individual responses totaled more than 900 and select themes emerged, including (not in priority order):

• Improving arts education and general education for the population of San Antonio, e.g., “A more educated population appreciates the arts more.”

• A call for support and funding for symphony, opera and ballet.

• Desire for a more “balanced” perspective in the arts and expanded focus on “all” cultures. There is a perception this will assist with reaching international standards of achievement.

• A more vibrant downtown area with improved transportation access and parking.

• Better resources for attracting major shows and musician tours that are now going to Austin or Dallas, including the need for a larger, world-class venue.

• More informal activities and venues, such as outdoor activities, smaller galleries, and smaller theatres.

• Improved communication about arts and cultural events and happenings in the city.

• More affordable arts and cultural events and activities.

• Improved dispersion of arts and cultural events throughout the city and not just in the downtown area.

• More support for individual artists: more city funding, arts markets, and improved exposure for artists.

• Strong support for public art, including more creative ways of using public art to improve the city, e.g., using a public art project to create “shade” for outdoor events.

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