Arts, culture, and historic preservation in rural Texas : creating successful, distinctive, and sustainable communities
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Rural America has been losing population to urbanized areas and going through economic decline since the 1920s. Younger generations are leaving for better employment opportunities and better amenities. The population that is left is growing older, retiring, and unable to sell property in order to move. Businesses do not have successors and many buildings sit vacant, deteriorating. Efforts to bring life back to these small towns can prove to be difficult, especially for the long haul. Many organizations, at the state and federal level provide funding and assistance for communities to create planning documents, preserve building stock, create arts groups, and even to assist with housing and energy needs. Local organizations are just as important if not more so when it comes to revitalizing a community. Case studies are used to address the current conditions of economic development and revitalization through the use, or lack, of arts, culture, and historic preservation. It is found that communities that have high support and involvement for the arts are able to utilize these resources for economic and tourism gains. The same can be said for those who make historic preservation, or at least reuse of older building stock a priority. Even just one preservation project can be enough to inspire other projects, both preservation related, general maintenance, and upkeep. Similar results can be seen when a few passionate and energetic people come together to create creative groups and spaces. Through hard work and building a community’s self esteem, sustainable revitalization in small, rural towns is possible.