AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Two years after a tight budget threatened funding for the Texas Historical Commission, supporters hope to combine tax dollars and private money to showcase the state's past in a more interactive way.
The commission, building on the success of county courthouse restorations and Main Street rejuvenation programs across the state, is launching a fundraising effort that includes cutting-edge digital projects, the Austin American-Statesman (http://bit.ly/1332nX4 ) reported Monday.
"We're not about hysterical preservation, as it's been called, that looks backwards. We're looking forward to build a culture of excellence that will make things happen — to help shape tomorrow's history today," Austin architect Matt Kreisle, who was named head of the 17-member commission last year by Gov. Rick Perry, said.
Kreisle launched a series of strategy sessions to chart the future for the $25 million-a-year agency, which oversees a long list of history, archaeology and preservation programs, as well as operates 20 state historical sites.
"We're all about that pride in being a Texan," Kreisle said, "and about connecting generations, inspiring all the new people arriving in Texas to get excited about our history."
In 2011, Perry proposed closing the commission amid state budget concerns, but Texas' improved economy has led to more support.
State Sen. Juan Hinojosa, D-McAllen, vice chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said the "atmosphere has changed" regarding funding not only for the historical commission, but for other agencies as well.
"Two years ago, we were looking to make cuts wherever we could because we had a huge deficit — and I think all agencies were under the gun," he said, echoing sentiments of House leaders. "This time, we have money, and the historical commission is popular with a lot of Texans.
"Who doesn't like Texas history?"
Information from: Austin American-Statesman, http://www.statesman.com