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'Inspired' ads aim to bolster city's arts image

Everett Evan, Houston Chronicle
Updated 12:45 am, Wednesday, May 8, 2013

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  • Artist GONZO247, left, and City Council member James Rodriguez cuts a giant red ribbon to unveil his mural "Houston Is" during the kickoff of "Houston Is Inspired" campaign Tuesday, May 7, 2013, in Houston. GONZO247 said he spent a month working on the mural, using 250 cans of spray paint.  ( Brett Coomer / Houston Chronicle ) Photo: Brett Coomer, Staff / © 2013 Houston Chronicle

    Artist GONZO247, left, and City Council member James Rodriguez cuts a giant red ribbon to unveil his mural "Houston Is" during the kickoff of "Houston Is Inspired" campaign Tuesday, May 7, 2013, in Houston. GONZO247 said he spent a month working on the mural, using 250 cans of spray paint. ( Brett Coomer / Houston Chronicle )

    Photo: Brett Coomer, Staff

 

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Houston's arts and culture organizations are launching a "Houston Is Inspired" campaign to raise awareness of the city's arts scene locally, nationally and globally.

Touted as the first time the groups, as well as individual artists, have collaborated on a single project, the campaign was launched Tuesday by the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureaus at Market Square Park as part of Travel Rally Day.

The event included a ribbon-cutting for graffiti artist GONZO247's splashy, 3,300-square-foot "Houston Is" mural on the side of Treebeards restaurant.

The "Houston Is Inspired" theme grew from the bureau's "Houston Is..." national advertising campaign, promoting the city as a culinary and cultural capital.

On national lists

In the past year, the city has gained increasing attention as a destination, with such indicators as U.S. News and World Report naming it the seventh best shopping city in the nation, and the New York Times listing it among the "46 places to visit in 2013."

Arts events here regularly earn national attention, such as the recent glowing Wall Street Journal review calling Houston Grand Opera's current "Tristan and Isolde" an "enthralling theatrical event."

The campaign's centerpiece is a series of ads featuring individual performing and visual artists. They include gallery owner Barbara Davis, Project Row House founder Rick Lowe, Alley Theatre actor Todd Waite, and the Houston Ballet's Nao Kusuzaki, among others.

Uniting arts groups

"We want this campaign to reach beyond Houston's institutions to include individual artists living and working in our 10-county region," said Jenni Rebecca Stephenson, executive director of Fresh Arts.

"There are thousands of visual artists, musicians, actors and dancers in our metropolitan area who are a valuable part of the conversation and will lend their support to the campaign," she said.

The campaign unites the Houston Museum District, Houston Theater District, Houston Arts Alliance and Fresh Arts. Its goals are to:

1 engage the organizations' audiences in a sense of pride and ownership of Houston's arts offerings;

1 encourage patrons to explore art forms and cultural experiences new to them;

1 share what inspires them with friends and family to build new audiences for the city's arts.

Travel Rally Day is part of National Travel and Tourism Week, which each year acknowledges tourism's positive impact on communities across the nation.