Five New Cultural Districts Designated by Texas Commission on the Arts

by Christopher Blay September 3, 2020

West Magnolia Avenue, Near Southside, Fort Worth.

Fort Worth’s Near Southside Arts, the Red River neighborhood in Austin, Deep Ellum in Dallas, and both the Third Ward (The Tre) and the Fifth Ward in Houston have been approved as Texas Commission on the Arts’ (TCA) newest cultural districts.

These special zones pool cultural resources to foster economic development and community revitalization as focal points for business and tourism. The new additions boosts the total number of cultural districts in Texas to 48. The exclusive statewide designation power of the TCA to establish cultural districts on behalf of Texas allows cultural districts eligibility to apply for Cultural District Project funding through TCA.

“We are pleased to highlight the wonderful work these districts are already doing to attract visitors to their communities, and to enhance the quality of life in our great state,” says Gary Gibbs, executive director of TCA. “Each approved cultural district provided extensive information on their qualifications, and was considered through a highly rigorous review process. We congratulate them on this achievement.”

Proclamation events to officially mark the designation of each district will be announced at a later date.

Red River Cultural District, Austin.

Red River Cultural District, Austin.

Austin’s Red River Cultural District features more than 40 local small businesses, including venues for live music, bars, and restaurants in downtown Austin. It’s managed by the Red River Merchants’ Association. Nearby are the Austin Symphony Orchestra, First Baptist Church, German-Texan Heritage Society, and Waterloo Greenway.


Deep Ellum, Dallas.

Perhaps the oldest of the new districts, established in 1873, is Dallas’ Deep Ellum, which thrived with jazz and blues musicians in the 1920s, and has since become a hub for artists,  galleries, and public art, including a lot of Dallas and music-themed murals. The district is also home to The Deep Ellum Arts Festival, which began in 1994.

Fort Worth’s Near Southside Arts (pictured at top), established by The Near Southside, is a 1,400-acre district south of Downtown Fort Worth. With its signature ‘largest contiguous collection of Craftsman homes in the nation (Historic Fairmount) ‘and more than 200 locally-owned and operated  businesses, the Near Southside is also home to ArtsGoggle, an arts festival now in its 18th year.

“The designation is extremely exciting and we want everyone that’s interested in contributing to be a part of this, as an artist, musician, designer, visitor, or as a resident that wants to live within such a creative environment,” states Mike Brennan, President of Near Southside, Inc. and Near Southside Arts.

Houston's Third Ward Cultural District

Houston’s Third Ward Cultural District.

Famous for its cultural highlights such as Project Row Houses and the Deluxe Theater, the Third Ward in Houston is a hub for Black art, culture and history in the city. Third Ward Cultural District (The Tre)’s vision is to preserve, protect, inspire and share its cultural legacy for future generations.

Similarly, the second of the two Houston districts, The Fifth Ward Cultural Arts District, employs its own strategies for preservation and legacy. Tapping into its rich history in arts and culture (which includes being the birthplace of Hip Hop legends The Geto Boys), the district’s goal is to encourage new businesses while growing existing ones, job creation, and taking advantage of the talent and culture within its boundaries. It will preserve and celebrate all cultures within the Fifth Ward, and showcase creative talent and opportunities.


5th Ward Cultural Arts District.

To learn more about the Texas Commission on the Arts and its Cultural District initiative, please go here.


The mission of the Texas Commission on the Arts (TCA) is to advance our state economically and culturally by investing in a creative Texas. TCA supports a diverse and innovative arts community in Texas, throughout the nation and internationally by providing resources to enhance economic development, arts education, cultural tourism and artist sustainability initiatives. 

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