San Antonio Arts Convention
San Antonio Arts Convention

More than 1,000 arts leaders from across the country converge on San Antonio this week for the National Americans for the Arts (AFTA) convention Friday through Sunday. You can still register to attend the conference. Visitors will find a city where a growing community of artists is playing an increasingly bigger role in transforming the city. San Antonio has more public art, more arts festivals, more arts institutions than ever before, and there is shared sense of expectation that it’s only going to get better.

Some of the big changes on the horizon:

More than 25 years after the Blue Star Contemporary Art Center helped revitalize the King William/Southtown neighborhood, the city’s premiere contemporary art space will be expanding south along the San Antonio River to the Big Tex site, also owned by Blue Star Complex owner James Lifshutz.This week the Blue Star is hosting its own arts gathering, Scale: A Gathering of Sculptors, which wraps up Thursday.

The city’s historic Municipal Auditorium is undergoing a $206 million metamorphosis and will reopen in 2015 as the Tobin Center of the Performing Arts, giving the San Antonio Symphony, the San Antonio Ballet and a new opera company a state-of-the-art facility that will include a concert hall, multiple theater spaces and an outdoor amphitheater opening up to the San Antonio River.

The Southwest School of Art  will begin graduating students with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree, making it the only independent, degree-granting art school in Texas.

Jim Mendiola, writer/director who divides his time between his hometown of San Antonio and Los Angeles, produced a video about the San Antonio arts scene as a welcome to AFTA members visiting the city. He is currently working on a feature documentary for PBS on the making of the 1968 movie Viva Max, and a short piece funded by the Gates Foundation highlighting the Middle School Partner’s Program, a nationally recognized SAISD dropout recovery project. He blogs at, and his company website is where he produces films and videos with his partner Faith Radle.