May 1, 2007
AUSTIN – Music-loving cities would compete for the title of official music capital of Texas under legislation approved by the Senate on Monday. The measure, which now goes to the House, would create the Texas State Music History Museum to showcase the work of great musicians from Texas, display instruments and other objects related to their work and educate visitors on the musical heritage of the state. All cities would be invited to compete for the museum under the bill by Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, who said he envisions a “wide-open” contest for the rights to build the facility. “Many places in Texas can lay claim to the fact that they played a fundamental role in the music history of this state and the country,” Mr. Watson said. “We love music that originated in West Texas as much as we love the music that originated in South Texas. I like Buddy Holly as much as I like Janis Joplin and Freddy Fender.”A similar bill by Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, has already cleared a House committee and is expected to go before the full House soon. The governor’s office would be assigned to develop the bidding procedures for local communities to vie for the museum. The governor would also appoint a music history advisory board to oversee development of the project and advise the museum operator on the contents of the facility – including the Texas artists whose work would be recognized. Funding would come from grants and contributions as well as local revenues from the city that wins the museum. The bill also authorizes the Legislature to appropriate money for the facility. The legislation requires that operating costs be paid from revenues generated by the museum. Mr. Watson said there are several music museums around the state, but “we don’t have anything that is the official state museum” with a comprehensive collection of musical artifacts from across Texas. He suggested that some of the existing museums could be involved in the bidding process. He also said it would be important for the museum – once it is open – to make its exhibits available to other communities on a regular basis. “Even though the museum would be located in one city, I could see them putting together an exhibition that could travel around the state,” he said.