A vibrant arts hub
Fredericksburg ranks near the top of the heap for small community arts offerings, a recent national study showed.
The fourth annual edition of Southern Methodist University’s National Center for Arts Research placed Fredericksburg 10th in the nation among towns classified as “small communities,” or “micropolitan,” meaning between 10,000 and 50,000 population in its core.
The study takes into account the number of independent artists, arts and culture employees and organizations, as well as arts dollars in contributed revenue (to the local economy), as well as government support.
Fredericksburg ranked 22nd in “arts providers,” showing as high as 10th in the number of independent artists.
In “arts dollars,” the town ranked 107th, likely due to the size of the market.
And in “government support,” Fredericksburg ranked 408th in the study, as it receives little in state and federal arts dollars or grants.
Ernie Loeffler, executive director of the Fredericksburg Convention and Visitor Bureau, said this town has historically had a large arts scene.
“The arts play a large role in the livability of a town or city for local residents, as well as becoming a magnet for cultural tourism — it’s a win-win situation,” Loeffler said. “Fredericksburg has a long history in the arts arena, starting with early German settlers like Petri and Lungkwitz, who were classically trained in painting in Europe, as well as the German singing groups and bands.”
Loeffler added that both individuals and the hotel-motel tax helps support arts pursuits to some extent.
“Places that value the arts invest in support of the arts,” he said. “Both individual patrons and nonprofit organizations, as well as the City of Fredericksburg and Gillespie County (through the hotel occupancy tax), have supported the arts for many years.
“Our vibrant arts scene — the visual arts, performing arts, including theater, choral and music of many styles, our film festival and our new cowboy poetry gathering this fall — are a direct result of that support and nourishment,” he said.
Mayor Linda Langerhans said the early 1990s proved a turning point for this community delivering a diversity of arts offerings.
“Our community was really focused on enjoying the music, the rural school plays, dances and annual events like the county fair. But I think back to the early 1990s, when we had a lot of people who were retired couples come here and they became focused on developing the arts scene. That includes the theater and the number of art galleries and the events associated with that,” Langerhans said. “That same group is active with Oktoberfest and many other events. We do have a great town.”
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