The arts scene is thriving in McAllen largely due to partnerships between the McAllen Chamber of Commerce and city government, which nurture local talent in visual and performing arts.
McAllen's diversity and location play a part in local arts, according to Cultural Arts Coordinator Jamie Tabak of the McAllen Chamber of Commerce.
"McAllen has attracted many diverse kinds of art and artists. We have art ranging from embroidery to graphics to music to style to a little bit of everything," Tabak says.
Helping Artists Grow
The McA2 Creative Incubator provides low-cost studio space and technical assistance for artists. It's a "sister of the chamber" and encompasses all types of art in its 12 available studios. Artists in residence at the incubator include a guitar teacher, oil and watercolor artists, a voice coach and actor. There's even a radio station, as well as exhibition and performance space.
Live, Local Music
Music After Hours, held monthly, features live and local artists from all genres of music. Performances typically take place at historic Archer Park on the first Fridays, but are at Bill Schupp Park during summer months.
You're likely to hear anything at Music After Hours, from country to jazz to pop and everything in between. Artists from all over the Rio Grande Valley have performed for the family-friendly series, which is sponsored by the chamber and city of McAllen.
Art in Public
Public art is making a visual impact on McAllen, both visually and creatively. The public art program, which began about three years ago, commissions the works of area artists for display at various locations around town.
"Artists dream of having their work displayed in a community "“ their own community," says Keith Arney, who chairs the city's Public Art Committee.
One of the more talked-about pieces is a sculpture called The Three Graces on Main Street in the Arts District. Artist Mick Reber's work represents the graces of faith, hope and charity.
Other works include the Irrigation Worker sculpture by Douglas Clark; Jackrabbit, a joint work by Nancy Moyer and Clark; and Joe Taylor's two-dimensional history of McAllen in graphite.
Arney reports funding for the public art has come from limited public funds and several private sources.
"We're really excited about how much support we've received. It's making this beautiful community more beautiful," Arney says.
Theatre and Film
McAllen's theatre scene is also growing. Plays and musicals are often performed on the University of Texas-Pan American and South Texas College campuses. In addition, the historic Cine El Rey theater on South 17th Street hosts live performances, including concerts, comedy shows and plays, along with classic movies. McAllen is also attracting interest from movie and television producers.
Visitors and locals alike are pleasantly surprised at McAllen's strong arts scene, says Tabak, who adds that it's no longer necessary to travel to other larger cities to enjoy the visual or performing arts.
"We're becoming the place to go for art," Tabak says.