Does a Texas music museum belong in Austin? Not all at Capitol think so

 

Plans to build a new state music museum have sparked emotional commentary from Austin and Houston lawmakers and musicians alike, according to the Houston Chronicle. A bill filed in the Senate would lay the groundwork for such a museum to be built in Austin, the Live Music Capital of the World.

Ray Benson / Photo by Stephen Spillman for the American-Statesman

Senate Bill 1147, authored by state Sens. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, and Kelly Hancock, R-North Richland Hills,  would establish a Texas State Music Museum and Texas Music Foundation in downtown Austin just across the street from the Bullock State History Museum and the Blanton Museum of Art. Proponents of the bill say it would create a cultural destination for tourists in Austin; detractors say other cities should get to compete for the location of the museum.

Asleep at the Wheel’s Ray Benson appeared before the Senate Business and Commerce Committee Tuesday to argue for the Austin location. Benson said the museum should be “in the state capital where people come, where it should be,” according to the Houston Chronicle.

However, Houston-based Texas Music Library and Research Center president Jim O’Cherry disagreed, saying that to pick one Texas city over others is unfair:

“It’s unfair to the people who have been involved in making this history, and unfair to the people of Texas who don’t live in Austin,” O’Cherry said, according to the Chronicle.

Complicating the issue is that the Houston-based Museum of American Music History received state designation for a similar project years ago, but the state never coughed up the $10 million in federal funding needed to get the project going.

From the Chronicle:

“This is about the state reneging on its promise to Houston. This is about the state competing against private museums,” MAMH founding member Stephen Williams said. “This is about Austin wanting to get something through a law that it couldn’t get through a statewide competition.”

Under SB1147, no state money would be allocated for the new museum. Instead, it would be privately operated by the State Preservation Board, which also oversees the state capitol building and the Bullock. Money would instead be raised by private donations.

The Senate Business and Commerce Committee left the bill pending Tuesday afternoon.

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What do you think? Should Austin be home to the Texas State Music Museum? Should Houston? Or should any Texas city be able to compete for the location? Let us know in the comments.

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