Friday, November 18, 2011

Arts Reporting: on Austin Theatre (Mostly A Puff Piece for Zach), November 17

Following up a Zach tweet: logo

ZACH and Other Theaters Make Austin a Magnet for Talent

By Doug Strassler November 17, 2011

Austin, the capital city of the Lone Star State, has plenty going for it. Kiplinger magazine ranked it number one on its "Best Cities 2010" list, and the city is third on's roster of "America's Most Recession-Proof Cities."

Clearly, Austin is doing something right. It has long been defined by its music scene, which is how it became home to the popular and growing South by Southwest festival. But Austin has emerged as more than just a base for music. In fact, it has become a mecca for theatrical and visual arts as well. So what makes the city such a bastion of creative energy?

"Historically, you can blame the University of Texas," says Robert Faires, senior arts editor of The Austin Chronicle. "Since the 1880s, it's been drawing creative types from all over the state—most of whom felt like lonely outsiders in their small hometowns—to this spot in the heart of Texas. They all discover one another here and begin to interact, and then the creativity just begins breeding. Because it's so fulfilling for them creatively here, they decide not to leave."

"We're a blue oasis in a red state," echoes Dave Steakley, the producing artistic director of Austin theater
ZACH for more than 20 years. "People, even politicians, come from the conservative parts of the state to be their true selves. It's an unbelievably desirable place to live."

If there is anyone who has his finger on Austin's artistic pulse, it's Steakley, who has shepherded ZACH to its position as the linchpin of the Austin arts scene. [. . .]

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