Update May 26, 2022 at 2:30 p.m.

Conroe City Council voted unanimously on May 26 to move forward with designating part of the city's downtown as the "Conroe Arts District." The city will also apply for a state designation as a cultural district.

Conroe Mayor Jody Czajkoski was absent from the May 26 vote, which was part of the meeting's consent agenda and did not see further discussion.

May 25, 2022 at 4:53 p.m.

Conroe City Council members discussed a plan to help the city’s downtown neighborhood further tap into the arts and culture industry at a May 25 workshop. The item is set for a vote at a May 26 meeting. Conroe Mayor Jody Czajkoski was absent from the workshop due to a family matter, according to Mayor Pro Tem Curt Maddux.

Downtown manager Frank Robinson presented the item, which would designate a part of downtown as the “Conroe Arts District.” The encompassed area would stretch from Santa Fe Street to Pacific Street and from Hicks Street to Cochran Street, and it would include both longstanding landmarks, such as Brownlee Jewelers and the Crighton Theater, as well as newcomers, such as Dragon Bowl C and MoCo Food Hall.

The resolution would also authorize the city to apply for a state designation as a cultural district, which according to the resolution text would allow it to “harness resources to stimulate economic development.” According to the Texas Commission on the Arts, which makes decisions on cultural districts, some potential uses of the district include attracting artists, preserving historic buildings and establishing tourism destinations.

The TCA’s website shows 47 cultural districts across the state, including seven in the Houston area. There are no cultural districts in Montgomery County.

Robinson presented statewide statistics showing the growth of the arts and culture industry in Texas with $6.1 billion generated in the state in the past decade. Robinson noted this was not Conroe’s first attempt to receive a cultural district designation.

“It’s been a long time coming,” Robinson said. “We believe we have a great opportunity to resubmit and make another run at it. We have a defined area, which is walkable, so the next step is a supporting resolution.”

Robinson also cited the upcoming Hyatt Regency and Convention Center and the planned visual performing arts center as projects that would have synergy with the cultural district.

Council Member Marsha Porter gave her support to the move, saying the designation would come with grants that could be used for performing arts.

“The city of Conroe has an exceptional group of performing artists that are well known throughout the state of Texas,” Porter said. “Downtown plans its entire schedule around the Crighton’s opening. This is a win-win situation for the city of Conroe.”

The deadline for cities to submit an application is June 15, and Robinson anticipated a response from the state in late summer.