More than 200 people gathered at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts on Wednesday for the first of many celebrations organized by the City’s Tricentennial Commission. While it served the function of launching planning and branding efforts for San Antonio’s 300th anniversary, the event had a party-like atmosphere aimed at demonstrating the kind of cultural celebrations the City is looking to line up for the May 2018 celebration.
“The art and culture in this city are not to be matched,” said Commission co-chair Katie Luber, Kelso director at the San Antonio Museum of Art. “We want everyone in the city to feel like they’re a part of it.”
Attendees of the high-energy event were entertained by live music from local music group Don’t Forget the Music, an all-female mariachi group Mariachi Las Alteñas, and dance performances by Ballet San Antonio and Trilogy Dance Center.
The Tricentennial is an opportunity for San Antonio to display its rich cultural history to both visitors and residents, Luber said. Celebrations will include art projects, historical presentations, concerts, and community initiatives aimed at commemorating the city’s 300-year-old history.
The official logo (see top image) was revealed to the public through a dramatic, interactive presentation during which members pulled on ribbons to bring down a white curtain, unveiling the logo and launching confetti into the air.
The website, sanantonio300.org, was displayed by a projector on a wall adjacent to the stage, while staff navigated through the site to show the audience how they can get their cultural and historical initiatives involved by applying to be an official Tricentennial partner.
“We want the community to be part of the celebration … so organizations, individuals, schools, universities, can all go to the website, and put in their ideas or programs,” said Commission CEO Edward Benavides.
Community applications will be reviewed by the Commission, Benavides added, and over the course of 2016 and 2017 the Commission will announce the official Tricentennial events.
Benavides joined Asia Ciaravino, the Commission’s chief operating officer, as emcee for the morning’s proceedings that began with ceremonial prayers led by the Southern Winds Intertribal Group and Fr. David Garcia.
Also announced during the ceremonies was the Tricentennial’s first official corporate sponsor, telecommunications giant AT&T. City of San Antonio has partnered with Bexar County to provide financial support for the project, Benavides said, but private sponsorships will be needed to bring the Tricentennial plans to fruition.
“This is a public-private partnership,” he said. “The City and the County have jointly contributed funds towards this effort of about half a million dollars for branding and marketing support. We’ll be going to the private sector as well and we’re lucky to have AT&T to help us do that.”
Renée Flores, regional vice president of external affairs for A&T, attended the event.
“We hope other companies follow our corporate example and take part in this once-in-a-lifetime, exciting milestone for San Antonio,” Flores said.
As far as the budget for the project, Benavides said the Commission is still hammering out the details.
“This will be a very ambitious project,” he said. “We don’t have a dollar amount yet but we will meet with a group of community stakeholders and decide that in the months to come.”
The Tricentennial Commission was assembled in April 2015 by Mayor Ivy Taylor. It consists of a diverse group of local leaders who are part of the City and the County, working to plan and execute commemorative events for the San Antonio’s 300 year anniversary in 2018.
The celebrations are set to kick off with an official event on New Year’s Eve of 2017, going into 2018.
“I am so excited for this celebration of history and culture,” Mayor Taylor said after the performances on Wednesday. “We hope you continue this enthusiasm you have today all the way up until 2018.”
A priority for the Tricentennial, Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff said, is to make sure key phases of the San Pedro Creek Improvements Project are completed by May 2018.
Mayor Taylor sees the cultural and historical events as a means for San Antonio to positively portray its image as a growing city, full of history.
“It’s really important because it gives us the opportunity to really highlight a lot of our assets and our history and culture here, and lay the foundation of our future development,” she said.
*Top image: Dancers from Trilogy Dance Center perform underneath the Tricentennial logo. Photo by Scott Ball.