Creatively Sustaining Artists in Houston

Artists come to Houston, live here, have great ideas and often remain isolated, according to Theresa Quintanilla and George Worthington, co-founders of HoustonSummit.org, a fledgling organization that has applied for non-profit status. There just aren't enough artist collectives like Winter Street Studios, they say.

With the goal of making better connections to and for creative types, they're holding the Houston Summit for the Creative Economy on the Rice University campus today. A full day of speakers is also aimed at bringing more creativity into the workplace - to allow engineers, for instance, to discover their inner improv artist.

A couple Houston Press staffers are involved. Food writer Katharine Shilcutt will be on a panel, "Creating Cuisine," led by Theresa Byrne-Dodge of My Table magazine and including Monica Pope of t'afia. Quintanilla said they're using the food community here as a role model for how things should work.

Assistant Music Editor and pop culture guru Craig Hlavaty will be part of the panel "Local Assets," which according to the program guide is about "How Houston entrepreneurs are capitalizing on under-utilized local cultural assets."

According to Worthington, while the Houston area is well known for its energy industry, biosciences and medical center, lots of creative efforts are not receiving much community support.

"I think we're trying to encourage people to collaborate more," Worthington said. Quintanilla said there are talented musicians here that don't think they can really leverage their success to a national level. Fashion students are told that to make it big, they must go to New York City, both said.

The good news about Houston, they say, is that there are "low barriers" to starting a new enterprise. It's a relatively cheap place to live. The problem lies in sustaining that initial effort, they say.

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