The Texas Commission On The Arts added two more cultural districts on September 4, 2014, bringing the total to 26 across the state.
The East End Houston Cultural District (EEHCD) was one of two new designated Districts. Houston can now claim five such districts, the largest number of any city in the state. Nine other cities competed this year for the exclusive designation. The EEHCD was the top scoring submission, bringing the award home.
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Diane Schenke, president of the Greater East End Management District (GEEMD) spearheaded the efforts that lead to winning the designation. She said that, overall, this is a significant win for Houston. She added it is a special win for the residents and business owners in the East End.
This is like bringing an Olympic medal to the area, she said.
An extensive study done by the Knight Foundation and Gallup show social offerings, openness and aesthetics are the key drivers to building community attachment. Mrs. Schenke expects this to happen in the East End. She said she also believes that becoming a cultural district will be an economic engine, driving new development. Improving the economy is one of the main factors in the Texas Commission on The Arts selection process.
The main reason the East End Houston District was awarded such this designation is the numerous cultural assets and the large number of historical buildings in the area. Some date back to the founding of Harrisburg.
The District identified 49 cultural assets in its surroundings. They include: Talento Bilingue, Our Lady of Guadalupe Church and the former Ford Model T factory, now Maximus Coffee.
Mayor Annise Parker pointed out that the East End has more history than all the rest of Houston.
The mayor and Mrs. Schenke said this special state designation, combined with future development and marketing of the EEHCD, will attract a substantial infusion of capital investment. The ladies said the recognition will create an exponential growth in local and tourists patrons for the local artists’ works and galleries.
One feature that sets the EEHCD apart is the large concentration of Latino artisans. EEHCD has a higher concentration of Latino artists than other areas of the city. Mrs. Schenke said these artists will be strongly supported in this new cultural district.
Local artist Jesse Sifuentes said the designation means more opportunities for tourists and local residents to know the artistic value present in the East End community.
When he got the news he said, “I think this is great for our local community. This officially validates that the East End is a neighborhood that values its history and art. We want to be known for something more than just an industrial area of Houston.”
The East End Foundation held an official public announcement during a press conference held on Oct. 23, 2014. At the ceremony, the GEEMD rolled out the plan and future local initiatives of the EEHCD to residents and visitors.
Diane Schenke President of Greater East End Management District
Address: 3211 Harrisburg Blvd, Houston, TX 77003