In addition to the relationship between the City of Smithville and the LPAA, other community organizations partner in a wide variety of cultural activities.
• Business / Building Owners
LPAA’s “Silhouettes” program is a recent example of partnership. In early 2014, empty storefronts were livened up with silhouette portraits depicting people doing business. LPAA also works with local businesses through the Smithville Mural Program. Weatherworn murals are refurbished and new murals are conceptualized and painted. Interior murals have been painted at the Post Office, at a local bank, and in a church. The newest outdoor murals have been painted at Billy Dee’s automotive and on the historic Smithville Police Department.
• Smithville Area Chamber of Commerce
The City of Smithville and the LPAA have worked together with the Chamber of Commerce on several programs – the October Texas Photo Festival, the Festival of Lights, “Art on a Stick” and signage. The LPAA provides artists for arts and crafts booths to keep children entertained during local festivals. The City provides space at City Hall and the Recreation Center for many Chamber activities. The Chamber’s participation was also key to make the Silhouette program a success.
• Spoken Word
The Spoken Word was established in 2009 for local writers to meet monthly to read their poetry and prose to an audience. They have worked with the Smithville Public Library creating special events to raise funds for library programs. Spoken Word hosted a fundraiser called “Day with St. Valentine” in February 2014, and in 2015, they organized “Spoken Word Meets StoryCorps” to show people what happens during an interview to help develop interest in the “StoryCorps @ Your Library” program. They have also held “Writers Talk About Writing” events to encourage novice writers in their efforts to become published.
The local education foundation, SEF has worked with LPAA to bring “Enrichment Days” to the Mary A. Brown Primary School, which serves Pre-K through 2nd grade in Smithville. This program adds an opportunity to learn arts-related skills and competencies to the curriculum. When state testing requirements and constraints on school budgets at the Primary School forced the administration to eliminate their arts program, this program was designed to fill the void. SEF, LPAA, Playhouse Smithville, and Mary A. Brown Primary School now work together to provide the innovative “Brown Primary Enrichment Days” program. Enrichment Days are coordinated to use required SISD administrative workdays to bring in visual and performing artists to teach these creative skills. This program allows SISD to save the funds it would otherwise need to spend on substitute teachers while providing the students with an amazing opportunity for hands-on, creative learning. Through Enrichment Days, kindergarten, first, and second grade students gain exposure to the arts to develop their understanding of color, form, music and spatial relationships. SEF provides the funding for the instructors and the supplies. Brown Primary arranges the schedule to ensure that all students in these three grades have the opportunity to participate. Playhouse Smithville artistic and music directors give students rudimentary and fun lessons in acting, and Music Theater. Students truly love this opportunity to be creative.
In 2016, the Smithville Cultural District was awarded funds from the Texas Commission on the Arts to support the Enrichment Days program and to create several banners that will fly along Main Street beginning in August, 2016. Grant funds paid for instructors for the program and for several of the banners themselves. The Cultural District, Lost Pines Artisans’ Alliance, Smithville Education Foundation, and Keep Smithville Beautiful provided the matching funds needed to complete the program. We are extremely grateful for this collaboration and for the beautiful new banners, which showcase our very young students’ artwork and show off the community’s talents.
• LPAA Gallery on Main
The LPAA partnered with Samantics Squared at 206 Main Street to curate the 1,000 square-foot gallery space to display local artists’ work. It had a “soft opening” in September, 2014 with paintings by young local artists and a “Grand Opening” in conjunction with the Chamber’s Texas Photo Festival in October, 2014; the show included photographic works by local artists. Over 100 people attended each opening and on average, about 20 people have signed the guest book every day it has been open.
• Smithville Community Gardens and Smithville Food Pantry
Since 2011, LPAA has collaborated each spring with these two organizations to bring awareness to our community about issues of hunger and the importance of a healthy diet through the Smithville Empty Bowl Project. Each organization gets 30% of the proceeds, and gifts the remaining 10% to various local organizations that have a child nutrition component, such as the Smithville Independent School District, the Boys and Girls Club, and the local nonprofit, “Angels Unaware,” which provides backpacks full of food that school children who face food insecurity take home for the weekend.
• Smithville Independent School District (SISD)
In addition to the work they do with SEF, SISD is a partner in the Empty Bowl project, working with LPAA artists by donating their Junior and Senior High School art students who build bowls under the supervision of the art teachers and LPAA clay artists. This project is a major fundraiser for the three organizations. Community response has been tremendous and grows every year.
• Playhouse Smithville
LPAA allows Playhouse Smithville, to utilize the Mary Nichols’ Art Center to give music lessons and, when needed, to use the gallery space for overflow rehearsal space.
• Smithville Noon Lions Club
The Smithville Noon Lions Club has supported this community for decades through scholarship programs, by recognizing students and teachers, by allocating funds to a number of important community programs such as the Smithville Empty Bowl Project, the Chamber of Commerce events, and the Smithville Community Gardens.
Since 2013, this Club has supported the International Lions Club “Peace Poster Contest” for Junior High students (for a list of winners over the years, please see http:// members.lionsclubs.org /EN/serve/contests/peace-poster-contest/ppc-grand-prize-winners.php). This was an especially important contest the first year because a few months earlier one of the students at the Smithville Junior High committed suicide on school grounds. This poster contest helped the students who participated work through some of the pain and focus on peace.
The Junior High Art Teacher and the Parent and Community Liaison at SISD have been instrumental in making this program a success, and it points to another partnership that helps students learn how to express themselves through art. Future plans for the Peace Poster contest are to have banners made with at least the five posters that get the most votes to fly on the proposed “Avenue of the Arts” (see “Proposed Projects” for more information).
• City Departments
City of Smithville Departments often collaborate with community organizations to enhance and create artistic and cultural offerings and programming in Smithville.
For example, Smithville Public Library (SPL) partners with Keep Bastrop County Beautiful in their recycled Christmas ornament contest (open to school-aged children, pre-K through 12th grade); SPL encourages people to tell their stories for posterity through the “StoryCorps @ Your Library” program (Smithville was one of 10 libraries to receive this award during the pilot project phase of this national program), and SPL brought the “Let’s Talk About It: Muslim Journeys” literary program to Smithville through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Libraries Association.
The Parks and Recreation Department supports art in public places through their burgeoning Parks program, the Recreation Center provides community space including a stage for groups wishing to host culturally relevant events, and development at Riverbend Park (including two stages, a dance floor, booths with electricity, a pavilion, a baseball field, a disc golf course, and various other amenities) has created a terrific venue for music festivals, rodeos, and a wide variety of other events.
• Other Partnerships
The City of Smithville and the Lost Pines Artisans’ Alliance partner with many other organizations to enhance services and cultural activities, and are always seeking to develop partnerships when needed and as opportunities arise.