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About Austin

About The Capital of Texas

In the state capital of Texas, we pride ourselves on being far from ordinary. In fact, we celebrate being “weird.” Austin is a hot spot for creativity and embraces its community of musicians, artists, entrepreneurs and progressive thinkers.

We’re home to a singer named Willie, a cyclist named Lance and a Longhorn steer named Bevo. And we’re known for being the Live Music Capital of the World®, a title that we take pretty seriously with nearly 200 live music venues.

But that’s not all that forms our landscape. As the gateway to the Texas Hill Country, rolling hills and sparkling waterways abound in Austin. And each night during the summer, we gather to watch 1.5 million bats take flight from underneath the Ann Richards Congress Avenue Bridge.

Now that we’ve covered some of our sights and sounds, it’s time to get a taste of Austin. The kitchens of some of the country’s best Tex-Mex and barbecue restaurants can be found here. As can a wide selection of local and organic specialties.

All this just scratches the surface of what makes Austin like no place else. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, there’s always something playing here. We invite you to take in as much as you can.

The Culture

“Keep Austin Weird” has become a local motto in recent years, featured on bumper stickers and t-shirts. This motto has not only been used in promoting Austin’s eccentricity and diversity, but is also meant to bolster support of local independent businesses.  According to the 2010 book, Weird City, the phrase was begun by a local Austin Community College librarian, Red Wassenich, and his wife, Karen Pavelka, who were concerned about Austin’s “rapid descent into commercialism and over-development.”  The slogan has been interpreted many ways since its inception, but remains an important symbol for many Austinites who wish to voice concerns over rapid growth and irresponsible development. Austin has a long history of vocal citizen resistance to development projects perceived to degrade the environment, or to threaten the natural and cultural landscapes.

According to the Nielsen Company, adults in Austin read and contribute to blogs more than those in any other U.S. metropolitan area.  Austin residents have the highest internet usage in all of Texas.  Austin was selected as the No. 2 Best Big City in “Best Places to Live” by Money magazine in 2006, and No. 3 in 2009, and also the “Greenest City in America” by MSN.  According to Travel & Leisure magazine, Austin ranks No. 1 on the list of cities with the best people, referring to the personalities and attributes of the citizens.

SoCo is a shopping district stretching down South Congress Avenue from Downtown. This area is home to coffee shops, eccentric stores, restaurants, food trucks, trailers and festivals. It prides itself on “Keeping Austin Weird”, especially with development in the surrounding area(s).

What to do?

Music

As Austin’s official slogan is The Live Music Capital of the World, the city has a vibrant live music scene with more music venues per capita than any other U.S. city.  Austin’s music revolves around the many nightclubs on 6th Street and an annual film/music/interactive festival known as South by Southwest (SXSW). The longest-running concert music program on American television, Austin City Limits, is recorded on the University of Texas at Austin campus. Austin City Limits and C3 Presents produce the Austin City Limits Music Festival, an annual music and art festival held at Zilker Park in Austin based on the Austin City Limits television show. The festival and television show alike attract musical artists from around the world. Other music events include the Urban Music Festival, the Fun Fun Fun Fest, Chaos In Tejas and the Old Settlers Music Festival.

Austin Lyric Opera has, since its founding in 1986, provided area residents with performances of multiple operas each year (including the 2007 opening of Philip Glass’s Waiting for the Barbarians, written by University of Texas alumnus J. M. Coetzee). Performances are held at the Long Center for the Performing Arts with outdoor performance at Zilker Hillside Theater.

The Austin Symphony Orchestra performs a range of classical, pop and family performances and is led by Music Director and Conductor Peter Bay.

Film

Austin hosts the annual Austin Film Festival, which draws films of many different types from all over the world. In 2004 the city was first in MovieMaker Magazine’s annual top ten cities to live and make movies. The 2007 South by Southwest (SXSW) festival included Pete Townshend, Iggy Pop, Tom Morello, and Rickie Lee Jones.

Austin has been the location for a number of motion pictures, partly due to the influence of The University of Texas at Austin Department of Radio-Television-Film. Films produced in Austin include Man of the House, Secondhand Lions, Waking Life, Spy Kids, Dazed and Confused, Office Space, The Life of David Gale, Miss Congeniality, Doubting Thomas, Slacker, Idiocracy, The New Guy, Hope Floats, The Alamo, Blank Check, The Wendall Baker Story, A Slipping-Down Life, A Scanner Darkly, and most recently, the Coen Brothers’ True Grit, Grindhouse, Machete, How To Eat Fried Worms and Bandslam. In order to draw future film projects to the area, the Austin Film Society has converted several airplane hangars from the former Mueller Airport into filmmaking center Austin Studios. Projects that have used facilities at Austin Studios include music videos by The Flaming Lips and feature films such as 25th Hour and Sin City. Austin also hosted the MTV series, The Real World: Austin in 2005. The film review websites Spill.com and Ain’t It Cool News are based in Austin. Rooster Teeth Productions, creator of popular web series such as Red vs. Blue, is also located on Austin.

Media

The most recent entrant on the Austin news scene is The Texas Tribune, an on-line publication focused on Texas and Austin politics.  The Tribune is “user-supported” through donations, a business model similar to public radio.  The Editor is Evan Smith, former Editor of Texas Monthly. Smith co-founded the Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, non-partisan public media organization, with Austin venture capitalist John Thornton and veteran journalist Ross Ramsey

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