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And also like Abilene, Midland sports some unique items, such as an airpower heritage museum that features a collection of World War II era nose art, pieces done by young men as they waited to go into battle. Featuring art from more than 35 planes, there's "nothing else like it really in America," Holeva said.
Abilene, which ranks 22nd in population in the state, is among the top 10 tourism spots.
Though not unique, regional symphonies throughout the country are "having tough times and have been having tough times for a long time," he said.
Among the most innovative and truly cutting edge of those entities would be the NCCIL, one of only three museums in the nation that focuses on illustration and the first museum of its kind, Barnett said.
When asked to think of unique art organizations in Abilene, Gibbs didn't hesitate to mention the museum, which features an ever changing array of exhibits drawing from the world of children's books.
Other cities Abilene's size may offer similar basic components.
"In these days, many times innovation is just surviving, and they've done a good job of that," he said.
"I don't know of any other places the size of Abilene that have (a venue with) that level Polo Shirts For Boys
of sophistication in its exhibits," he said. "It's very impressive."
"I would have to say that Abilene has led the way for other communities its size in knowing how to use the arts in its community to the best advantage for the entire city," said Gary Gibbs, executive director of the Texas Commission on the Arts.
Barnett said there are about 30 arts organizations in Abilene, which reach 476,000 people.
Like Abilene, Midland is a fairly isolated area that has carved out its own arts community that includes popular choices ranging from museums to ballet, theater and symphony performances, said Danny Holeva, executive director of the Arts Assembly of Midland.
Abilene's Philharmonic recently enjoyed all time attendance records, drawing 1,500 season ticket buyers from as far as 150 miles away.
Gibbs also took time to praise Abilene's opera company, saying "very few" cities its size could or would support such an endeavor. He also lauded the city's Center for Contemporary Arts, which provides studio and exhibit space for local artists.
Holeva was complimentary to Abilene's arts scene, particularly focusing on the city's popular ArtWalk, a monthly evening stroll through the downtown district's venues.
Arts and culture
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From a children's museum that's decidedly unique to a walk through history that practically jumps out at you, those who watch Abilene's arts and culture scene say that for a city its size it is well known and in a number of cases, genuinely innovative.
A number of tourist attractions bring visitors to Abilene, including the Abilene Zoo, by far the most popular among area attractions with 152,693 visitors. Abilene is one of about 10 cities in the state with a zoo.
Frontier Texas! is another attraction that catches Gibbs' eye, a "cultural resource" to the community he sees as highly innovative in the way the facility uses technology to re create everything from stampeding buffalo to a prairie thunderstorm.
"They were aware of what had happened in downtown Abilene," he said. "So that reputation is not just located right there in Abilene. It's gone way beyond that. It's seen as a model."
Midland has about 24 arts organizations reaching about 200,000 people a year, Holeva said.
Seven of the Abilene Convention and Visitors Bureau's list of 10 must do things in Abilene are arts and culture related, Barnett said, perhaps not surprising in a city with five arts and cultural institutions within walking distance of downtown the National Center for Children's Illustrated Literature, The Grace Museum, the Center for Contemporary Arts, the Paramount Theatre, Frontier Texas! and the 12th Armored Division Memorial Museum.
lends itself very well to ArtWalk the way it's laid out," he said. "Geographically it works very well, and it's a model for that type of program. I think with the downtown museum and business participation, it's ideal."
More than 10 years ago, ABC World News Tonight showcased Abilene as a community in which the arts were used to drive downtown renovation and growth, said Lynn Barnett, Fred Perry Navy Shirt
Gibbs said "frontiering" fits Abilene's arts and culture world well.
But the Abilene Philharmonic "plugs along," he said.
Gibbs said the way Abilene used the arts to revitalize the downtown area is a "trend that communities all across the country are following now."
"Communities across the country are realizing that these can be real economic drivers," he said. "That's something that Abilene could certainly explore a bit further, attracting even more artists to the area. The primary concern of artists is 'can I find a place to live in where I can still do my work and make a living?'"
Abilene is home to the longest running outdoor sculpture exhibit Polo Shirts For Men Outfit in the state of Texas, Barnett said.
Abilene Cultural Affairs Council director.
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