Growing Arts Scene Helping Houston Get Past 'Inferiority Complex'

Outside the Menil Collection in the museum district, Houston Mayor Annise Parker helped launch this fall’s arts season by providing a few numbers.

“Over the next 30 days alone, 62 separate venues will have 836 hours of live theater. Fifty-two venues will feature 768 hours of music. Twenty-five venues will have 213 hours of dance. And of course, our museums will offer 27,967 viewing hours.”

Houston is known for many things: oil and gas, the medical center, NASA… But one thing many outsiders may not think about is the city’s art scene.

“Well, I think they’re in the process of getting to know that.”

Greg Ortale is president of the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau.

“You know, we had a community-wide inferiority complex and I think we’re getting past that. Now I think we’re more proud. Back in the ‘80s there was a Houston Proud campaign and I think now we just are.”

The bureau launched its national Houston is Inspired ad campaign earlier this year. Its goal is to build on what has been found to be one of the two main reasons for visitors to come to Houston, and besides food, that’s culture.

Holly Clapham is the bureau’s vice president of marketing. She says the ads have been running in newspapers like the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, and they are resonating with people.

“Is it a direct, somebody sees the ad and then they come to Houston? No. Is it a part of a greater message that along with our advertising, our web, public relations, the marketing and PR efforts of area organizations, it is all working together.”

Ortale says while Houston has many different ways to attract visitors, the arts are especially important.

“One, of course, is that they can drive business. They can bring visitors into town. But most importantly it’s a quality of life issue, and it adds to the fabric of our community, it makes us richer.”

Visitors or residents of Houston can go to Houstonisisinspired.com to share their story of how Houston arts and culture has inspired them.

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