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The Cultural Collaborative and 'The Economic Impact of San Antonio's Creative Industry'

The voting isn't over 'til the The Cultural Collaborative passes ... as far as Office of Cultural Affairs Director Felix Padrón is concerned, anyway. Pleading uncertain times, the City Council at its May 26 meeting tabled the TCC resolution, which would guarantee City support for and implementation of the plan's 38-odd directives at a cost of approximately $2 million, until the June 7 runoff elections `see "Drum roll, please," January 20-26, 2005`. The usual squawkers squawked: $2 million?!?!?! Wherever will we find that kind of money? (Hint: Look in the City ledger under "Alamodome".) But City Council has promised to take up the TCC at its June 9 meeting, when Padrón will return armed with statistics from a new study, "The Economic Impact of San Antonio's Creative Industry," prepared by Trinity University professors Richard Butler and Mary Stefl with support from the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce and KellyUSA among others.

The study, which was announced June 8 to a high-wattage crowd (including Mayor-Elect and vocal proponent of increased arts funding Phil Hardberger) at the new performing-arts RADIUS Building, concludes that the creative economy - which for this study included design and advertising, museums and art collections, performing arts, arts schools, and visual arts - contributed $1.2 billion to San Antonio's economy last year. That's approximately 25 percent of the local military-industrial complex's impact, but then, the creative economy seldom leaves unexploded ordnance in its wake. You can join TCC supporters, who hope to make an explosive impact on the Council, at 1 p.m. Thursday, June 9, at the City Council chambers. TCC is item 17 on the agenda.

While there is plenty of good news in the creative industry economic impact study, once the blush of validation wears off, artists might start feeling a little Wobblie. While museums and collections employed the largest percentage of the estimated 10,000 creative economy workers, their total annual payroll was almost $70 million less than the design and advertising field. That's because annual average wages at local museums hover at $16,506 ($20,000 less than San Antonio's median income), while creative hawkers make $41,131 on average.

That's why so many talented area artists and museum support staff moonlight. Take Judge Daniel Guerrero, for instance. When he's not on the bench at the Municipal Court, he's often in his studio creating large-scale pastels inspired by old Mexican movie posters and his critical view of U.S.-Mexican history (his two one-man shows at Joan Grona Gallery were sell-outs). More recently, Guerrero led ArtPace's ArtElements Semester at Fox Tech High School. Under Guerrero's guidance, 30 students created Yo Soy El Futuro, a mural that honors Chicano leaders. The mural was unveiled May 23 at Fox Tech.

We assume that the salary is near the top of the scale for Rene Paul Barilleaux, whom the McNay Art Museum has selected to replace MaLin Wilson-Powell as Curator of Art after 1945. Barilleaux is the former deputy director for programs at the Mississippi Museum of Art in Jackson, which means our heat and humidity should not shock him when he arrives to take up his post at the beginning of August.

Compiled by Elaine Wolff

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