That’s a Wrap — Four Ways 2022 Was the Long Center’s ‘Year of Curiosity’
It’s safe to say (now that we can’t jinx anything), the end of 2022 has all of us here at the Long Center breathing a sigh of relief. Though this year still had some ups and downs, and we can’t quite shake off some lingering pandemic perils, we’re pretty proud of what 2022 has turned out to be and what our nonprofit team — along with a whole host of partners, supporters, and every Austinite out there — has accomplished.
Our 2022 goal was to make curiosity live and in-person, and we did just that! So whether you joined us for a performance, a Drop-In, a night on the town, or a spin on the ice (psst… Geoji’s ice rink ends January 1st), we just wanted to say “thanks” and share a few reasons why this year was our most curious year yet.
4 WAYS 2022 WAS OUR ‘YEAR OF CURIOSITY’
A Destination for the Curious
As 2022 dawned, we were ready to rock and roll, not knowing what the year might have in store. Coming out of topsy-turvey 2021, though, we were ready to reach for the stars. Can we do… everything? we asked. The answer? “Yeah, kinda!” With no holds barred, the Long Center became a destination for the curious, and boy did Austinites show us how curious they really were.
In fact, so curious that they ate up 16 free community events and attended 50+ shows at the LC this year. And that’s not even counting the almost 70 performances put on by our friends at the Ballet, Symphony, and Opera, who are not only back in full swing but also experiencing some of their best seasons in years.
The feverish need to feed our collective curiosity didn’t stop there. The Long Center was home to hundreds of artists this year, of all makes, shapes, and sizes. There were 225+ artists on our stages in 2022, but countless more helped to produce, manage, and work hard to make sure those artists looked and sounded great. We kept going, welcoming more creative and visual arts into the building in new ways than ever before. Look out for more vendor markets and exhibitions in Gallery 701, the newest space in which we’re sharing the stories, perspectives, and creations of Austin’s visual artists.
One thing is for sure — this year has made our Long Center team into a group of curiosity fiends, and we can’t wait to see what wild and wonderful combinations of sound, sight, and experience we land on next.
Speaking of curiosity fiends, will Austin’s curiosity ever run out?? It could never, because 2022 yet again demonstrated that the breadth and depth of the city’s musical interest is infinite. Presenting countless musical genres, performance types, and opportunities to discover something new made the Long Center THE place for curious listeners in 2022, and you never stopped showing up to devour more of the sounds that make Austin so unique.
Together with our fantastic partners, we celebrated traditional music and dance of our Hispanic neighbors for Univision 62’s El Grito event. We turned a new spotlight on jazz with a 5-band celebration of International Jazz Day and the first-ever Dell Hall appearance of jazz icon Christian McBride with locals Brannen Temple Express. We also had the time of our lives at the Third Annual Pride in Local Music Fest with the Austin LGBT Chamber.
Sounds of all kinds flowed this summer. Thousands of music-lovers from all over town enjoyed 12 free Drop-In shows, supporting 50+ of Austin’s new and upcoming homegrown artists. It doesn’t get better than an Austin summer of free music, and your continued support means we can show up for local artists every day and keep The Drop-In going year after year.
We turned things up a notch with KUTX’s & KAZI’s Summer Jam, hosted by Confucius & Fresh of The Breaks. With a lineup boasting Geto Gala, Anastasia Hera & The Heroes, Moody Bank$, and Tribe Mafia, this was the most hip-hop the LC had seen in a long time. We hear that 2023 is hip-hop’s 50th anniversary… could we see more?
Our ultimate curiosity this year was lookOUT Fest, the culmination of a long, fruitful exercise in ingenuity, creativity, and “newness” that this town had been missing these last few years. With a curated combo of musical, visual, and creative arts, we welcomed new genres, new sounds, and new arts-lovers to the Long Center in a celebration for the ages. Getting to see The Album Leaf on the same ticket as Mary Lattimore, Julianna Barwick, and Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith with locals The Kraken Quartet and Felt Out, was just the icing on the cake. Plus, when was the last time you got to catch a DJ set from KUTX’s Soundfounder?
With lineups like these, we’re working hard to continue our commitment to Austin’s culture and its incredible spectrum of diversity, and especially how that’s reflected on our stages. Look out for more incredible lineups in 2023.
Perhaps nothing has been more rewarding this year than seeing all of this curious and creative energy channeled into support for local artists, problem-solving to expand accessibility, and events to bring communities closer together.
In 2022, we opened our doors to 50+ orgs and community partners by giving rental discounts to make our spaces as accessible as possible. Performances on our stages put $60,000+ dollars in the pockets of local artists. We again partnered with the City of Austin and distributed $2.6 million in critical funding to 1,248 members of Austin’s creative ecosystem through the Austin Music Disaster Relief Grant. How cool is that?
Even better, we saw different communities come together to support creativity and curiosity in 100+ ways, new and old, big and small. We celebrated Texas Reading Day with H-E-B and Camila Alves McConaughey, gathering thousands of students together to read. We then turned around and handed out free breakfast tacos and gathered donations for Central Texas Food Bank with the help of H-E-B and our friends at Luck Presents. We reveled in the return of ACL Radio’s live morning ACL Fest broadcasts, and were delighted that we could gather again to celebrate July 4th with big crowds, fireworks, and the Austin Symphony Orchestra. And don’t worry, our furry friends were included, too, with Tito’s Handmade Vodka’s “Impressions of Tito’s Distillery Dogs over 25 Years” gallery in our Rollins Lobby.
A very special and ultra-curious community, the Heller Awards for Young Artists took center stage this year. Back to its first in-person celebration since the pandemic, this Tony Awards-style ceremony for high school musical theatre in the Greater Austin area celebrated the hard work of 32 schools, 13 districts, and 6,500+ students. Stay tuned for 2023’s Awards Ceremony next April — we’ll be celebrating 10 years of HAYA!
We’ve also loved continuing to explore more of Austin’s curious communities through our Mid-Week Intermission newsletter. Just this year, we learned about the message behind an international piece of art, shared hand-crafted mixtapes from our lookOUT Fest artists, got a behind-the-scenes look at Austin PBS’s new media center, and learned more about a few of the Long Center team along the way. If curious communities are up your alley, sign up for our newsletter — you’ll get it in your inbox every other week so you’re always up-to-date.
Curious for 2023
Returning to our pre-pandemic routine of events, shows, partnerships, and more shows was great, but there were just a few things that we hadn’t imagined might come our way.
We were pleased as Punch when Austin Young Chamber voted us FAVE Arts & Culture Experience at their 13th Annual FAVE Awards. We were also beyond grateful to be named Best Non-Profit at the Austin LGBT Chamber’s 2022 Business of Pride gala. We hope this entices you to come join us for a show next year (or a second, or a third!) and experience the Long Center for yourself.
We’re not sure if you noticed, but not only were we taken over by Disney+ for SXSW, we also made it into a couple of things on Netflix. If you watched the streaming giant’s Look Both Ways rom-com starring Lili Reinhart and Luke Wilson… yep, that SXSW panel took place at the LC. And at the beginning of the year, a little, tiny, not-known-well-at-all show called QUEER EYE threw the Navarro High Vikings an ultra-dreamy Prom bash on our H-E-B Terrace. Definitely worth a re-watch when you get a chance.
All this to say, the Long Center has certainly come a long way in 2022, and we have you to thank for making us the destination for curiosity this year. We’ve deepened partnerships, forged some new ones, experimented and explored nonstop, and still found time to launch our TikTok (follow us, pretty please? we’re new here).
As for 2023, you’re going to want to make sure you’re following us on the social media platform of your choice (@longcenter) and checking on our calendar regularly. Not only are we super excited to host William Shatner in January and Ta-Nehisi Coates on MLK Jr. Day (together with a group of community partners ranging from Six Square to Austin Justice Coalition), but rumor has it our nonprofit is also turning 15 years old. 🤫
On that note, cue the Queer Eye re-watch and we’ll see you real soon.
Wishing you a safe & healthy New Year from all of us at the Long Center — here’s to a curious 2023!
Get this… your support matters! We hope you had as good a 2022 with us as we did with you. Anything you give goes right back to making it all happen at the Long Center. You did that!