Austin’s cultural community is bustling with new talent. Whether it be music, sculpture or painting, the mediums that Austinites use to express themselves are constantly changing. According to Visit Austin, “Art isn't just a tourist attraction here. It is part of Austin's soul and creative spirit.”
Story by Sloan Wyatt
To demonstrate their commitment to this spirit, the Cultural Arts and Music and Entertainment Divisions of the City of Austin has announced the reintroduction of the Creative Ambassadors program. Starting last month, local artists could begin applying for this year-long program dedicated to funding their national and global pursuits.
The division first introduced the program in 2014. However, the City of Austin paused the initiative after that year because they were in the “process of developing overarching cultural tourism strategy,” public relations and marketing specialist Kathleen Stimpert says. Only after the division finalized the strategy did they begin discussing a Creative Ambassadors relaunch.
This year, the division rebranded Creative Ambassadors, offering a larger stipend and a transition from a monthly to a yearly cycle. Stimpert believes that these microgrants will bolster the artists’ production and performance as well as communicate Austin’s rich culture externally.
The program is accepting 10 artists from a multitude of disciplines including music, visual arts, film and performing arts. Artists will not be judged based on their medium but rather on their level of expertise, years in the field and prior recognitions. Judges will also look for artists who demonstrate an ability to communicate and represent the makeup of Austin’s community.
If selected, artists are expected to attend a training session before their travels, meet with national and international delegations, and forward press coverage. Unlike in 2014, the year-long program culminates in a report detailing the artists’ travels and work.
For young, aspiring artists who are not experienced enough to apply, Stimpert urges them to continue “chipping away and perfecting their craft” in order to “build up experience and [their] portfolio.” She also advises, “Look to older artists that have figured out how to make it work, and emulate them.”
According to sophomore studio art student Gabrielle Miceli, the Creative Ambassadors program is a positive addition to Austin. “Austin’s cultural environment is relatively accepting and supportive in my opinion,” Miceli says. “However, there is always room for improvement.”