While the Economy Might be Winding Down, the Arts Industry is Gearing Up

By: Sarah Snyder
NewsWest 9

"They come through the door with this big surprised look on their face, 'I did not know this was here,'" Lettie England, Administrator of The Presidential Museum, said.

For many West Texans, the economic downturn has meant a new discovery.

"Families when they're looking at budgets, they won't be able to travel out of town as much," England said.

And they say folks in the Basin are sitting up and taking notice of what's been right under their nose all along.

"Within a 200 mile radius, there is a lot to see and a lot to do," England said.

"Arts tend to thrive in bad economic times," Anthony Ridley, Artistic Director of The Globe Theater, said. "Maybe it's that people need a little diversion, but they do thrive."

The impact to community groups hasn't necessarily been the most noticable.

"A lot of the people who audition for us that live in Midland were concerned because it was costing them a lot of money to drive back and forth everyday for rehearsals," Ridley said. "So it was a problem."

The Globe Theater holds about 400 people, but right now, with every show, they're just seeing about 150. With the economic slowdown, the directors are hoping that number doesn't drop.

"There's been some impact with schools trying to get buses and pay for the gas to get here," Ridley said. "Hopefully with gas dropping, it's not great for our economy, but it might help get students in here."

But the real challenge is the type of plays they perform.

"We're always looking for plays that will involve, draw people in, things that interest them, titles that they recognize to be a sure thing, so that's always a constant struggle," Ridley said.

It's a struggle that's got the local theaters and museums looking for extra support, and so far, they've found it.

"There is a 'can do' spirit here, that is not found just anywhere," England said. "This museum that we're standing in today is an example of that."