New Director at Texas Arts Commission

There's a new Executive Director running things at the Texas Commission on the Arts in Austin, and he's someone who is well known in Houston arts circles. Houston Public Radio's Jim Bell talked with him.

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He's Dr. Gary Gibbs of Houston, and he comes to the Commission on the Arts after sixteen years of directing education and outreach for Houston Grand Opera.

"My primary charge at Houston Grand Opera was to take an art form that many people feel is complicated and difficult, and make that as accessible to as broad a community as possible. And so that kind of practical experience in the field, working to make the arts accessible to everyone, is a prime goal here at the Texas Commission on the Arts too."

Gibbs says if he can sell opera to Houston audiences of all ages, he can sell the full spectrum of the arts to the entire state. He says he'll do that by working to get people to realize that the arts are everywhere you look, not just in museums and concert halls.

"Many times people have the impression that it's something that you have to get dressed up for and buy an expensive ticket to attend, but in reality, without the arts our landscape and our quality of life would be greatly diminished."

Gibbs says the arts have always been a hard sell in Texas, but he's determined to change that. He says he'll promote art and artists of all kinds, he'll keep the legislature aware of the economic benefits the arts bring to the state, which are enormous, and work with the Legislature and the State Education Agency to get art and arts education back into the schools.

"That's the number one problem with the attitudes of people, because you have now probably two to three generations that have not had comprehensive arts education. And all the educational research shows that students who study the arts and participate in the arts do much better on standardized tests and are more successful academically."

Dr. Gary Gibbs has served on a number of panels for the National Endowment for the Arts, the Houston Arts Alliance, and the Texas Commission on the Arts, which he now directs. He succeeds Enrique Hernandez, who has retired and gone back to being a working artist. Jim Bell, Houston Public Radio News.