Houston Not a City For Young Creatives, Says New List
Last week PolicyMic, a website dedicated to the millennial generation, posted a list entitled "15 Cities for Creative 20-Somethings That Aren't New York or Los Angeles." The list includes some obvious choices, Ashville, NC, Portland, OR, and Nashville, TN, among others. A glaring omission from the list is our very own H-Town. That is not to say that Texas is completely left off; our "weird" neighbor made the cut at No. 4.
"I Heart Houston" by Paul McRae (Delta Niner)
According to author Elyssa Goldberg, Austin is a good place for creatives because it's affordable and easy to live in, which makes me wonder if Goldberg wrote this list ten years ago as Austin's real estate market just reportedly hit an all-time high.
But before I get all hot and bothered over how Austin made this list and Houston did not, I think it's worth exploring why that may be. Branding.
Let me jump back a bit first. I moved to Houston almost seven years ago now leaving what many would call the capitol of artsy-fartsy and cool: Williamsburg, Brooklyn (For the record, it's not). When my now husband was offered the move through his company, our friends thought we were insane. "Houston?" they said. "No, you mean Austin." Nope. Houston.
What tended to follow were jokes about all of the things we would have "a problem" with - horse manure being a big one.
In their defense, they knew nothing about the city; neither did, I for that matter. Our first trip down, we walked 19th Street and aimlessly searched for Montrose, which we thought was called Neartown because that's what Wikipedia says. By and large we were happily surprised: no cows, no hay piles. I am not lying when I say that as New Yorkers we expected to find little but farmland with a few DQs scattered through.
As I got to know the city more, I was further surprised and shared this news back east. Houston is a really cool, artsy town! And not only is Houston filled with art and culture, but people are skilled at their crafts and much of the community supports its artists. "Much" of the community.
Despite being the fourth (going on third) largest city in the entire country, Houston's art community feels very small town. As I have had the privilege to be a part of and write about the arts here, I have found a support and acceptance among different disciplines, as well as within specific fields. Personally, I have had much more success as an artist here than I ever did in New York. There are a million Abby Koenigs in New York, in Houston there are only a few. I have screamed Houston's artistic merits from the rooftops, but the thing is, people aren't listening. The national press specifically doesn't seem to want to hear about Houston for some reason. And therein lies the real problem Houston has.
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