The city of Granbury received designation from the Texas Commission on the Arts to be a Cultural District on Sept. 7. Granbury and Garland were both named cultural districts making 54 total cultural districts across the state.
The cultural district is centered around the historic square and all that lies in it, as well as all the many amenities and attractions that Granbury has to offer.
The cultural district will extend from the Lake Granbury Conference Center to the Jim Burks Firefighters Memorial Park, from east to west and from the railroad tracks to Lake Granbury from north to south.
The efforts to get Granbury named as a cultural district started 10 years ago according to Cora Werley who is a lawyer and a chair of the Granbury Cultural Arts Commission that was formed in 2018.
Werley noted that the role of their commission is to advise the city on the acquisition of public art which is anything owned by the city.
Werley added that a group 10 years ago under the Granbury Arts Alliance included Dominique Inge, Elise Techentine, Heather Cleveland, Joel Back, Scott Young, Janie Jones Linda Watkins and Shad Ramsey plus artists Cynthia James and Phil Groeschel. Attempted a couple of times to get Granbury designated as a cultural district. Their efforts were turned down for not having the backing of the city.
“They were very dedicated people who saw an opportunity to put Granbury on the map with what we already do,” Werley said. “They knew that it would be very beneficial to our city... They were really wise in looking ahead.”
The Texas Commission on the Arts is the only body that can officially designate cultural districts on behalf of the state.
According to Gary Gibbs, Executive Director of the Texas Commission on the Arts, “Communities must submit an application that is reviewed by panelists. The application must demonstrate cultural assets, tourism and marketing plans, community and artist engagement and local government support. Qualifying non-profit organizations within the district are eligible to apply for special funding from the TCA,” Gibbs said.
Werley said the process of the application alone took over a year including the creation of a master plan and many hours and detailed information that had to be obtained.
“We have really put aside our other public art things to get that done… It’s a very, very detailed application. It was eye opening,” Werley said. “Granbury has world renowned artists that live here. It’s amazing to me in this little town, the quality of the art that we have. We have 500 artists that are living or working in the city. For a city this size that’s pretty amazing. We’ve got a lot of initiative and a lot of energy.”
Reports are submitted annually, and each district must be re-certified every 10 years.
“The mission of the Texas Commission on the Arts is to advance our state economically and culturally by investing in a creative Texas. TCA supports a diverse and innovative arts community in Texas, throughout the nation and internationally by providing resources to enhance economic development, arts education, cultural tourism, and artist sustainability initiatives,” Gibbs said.
The TCA hopes to attract cultural tourists and spur community vitality and pride through these cultural districts.
“Designations like this power Granbury’s tourism economy. Tourism is Granbury’s number one industry, and the City of Granbury supports all things tourism via Visit Granbury, Tammy Dooley Director of Granbury Convention and the Visitors Bureau said. “Art Tourism generates numerous streams of revenue into our visitor economy and creates a quality of life for the entire community. Granbury, the new official ‘Celebration Capital of Texas’ celebrates all things art and will continue to be a focus in telling our unique story.”
In the future, Werley noted she would love to be apart of the county and form a county commission as the current Granbury Cultural Arts Commission is under the city.
The commission also has taken the initiative to put forth many plans into action to add to Granbury’s art. There are plans to have mosaics commissioned for the Granbury Opera House, as well as art to be wrapped around the utility boxes around the square. There are also plans to do more murals around the town and a related festival.
Stacey Watkins-Martin, Vice-Chair, Mary Ella Riley, Barbara Loyd, Mickey Parson, Janice Horak and Cheshe Langford alongside Werley all submit the application for the destination. Others who helped make this possible include Butch Barton, Carey Dryer, Chris Coffman, Jeanette Alexander, Sam Houston, Shelbie Miller-Gaddy, Teresa Whites, Tom Campbell, and Yvonne Miller.