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Meet Lubbock: The Thriving Arts Scene in West Texas

By Becky Brown

Two men play electric guitars and sing into microphones with another person playing drums in the back. Dramatic lights shine from corners of the room giving a white and golden glow to the scene.

Buddy Holly and Mac Davis are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg in Lubbock, Texas. The city is a hotbed of arts activity, not only in the creation of music, visual art, and performance, but also in the community’s support of artists and their work.

“What we have here is really special,” says Stacy M. Keith, director of the Lubbock Cultural Arts Foundation. “There’s an incredibly collaborative spirit, and people can feel that here. It’s something about West Texas.”

The Lubbock area boasts a population of around 300,000 and is home to a ballet, a symphony, and multiple art museums. The State of Texas has certified the city as a Film Friendly Community as well as a Music Friendly Community. This latter indicates a vibrant music scene and support for live music. This accreditation spurred locals to create a program to support its musicians.


Buffalo Grass Fest isn’t another traditional music festival. Instead of focusing on musicians’ output, it puts energy into performers.


“Lubbock has over 30 traditional music fests. We didn’t want to compete with the very people we want to lift up,” Stacy says. “Instead, we wondered how we could do something unique and support the people who do this work.”

The Lubbock Cultural Arts Foundation and its partners created a hybrid event. They identified a need for professional development and education for musicians. And so the group focuses on helping these artists be successful in the music business. The Buffalo Grass Fest started in 2022.

“We do have live music, but at its core, this is professional development and education for musicians, as well as education and exposure for students, both K–12 and college level,” Stacy says. 

The two-day event isn’t huge, and probably never will be. But for the 225–250 individuals engaged in the event this April, the impact could be life changing. The 2024 event focused on marketing. Workshops addressed everything from how to audition for a symphony to how to use social media and artificial intelligence to market your music.

While most music festivals are fundraisers, Buffalo Grass Fest takes money out of the equation. What is raised goes right back into the event’s fund as a nest egg for next year. Three years in, the community-driven effort has worked well.


People speak at tables to conference attendees. One large standing sign in the front says, "music friendly community."

Higher Ed at Buffalo Grass Festival in Lubbock, Texas. Photography by Jonathan Espinoza. Courtesy of the Lubbock Cultural Arts Foundation.

This kind of collaboration builds a healthy arts ecosystem, which in turn helps build the community itself.


“Lubbock has a small-town feel,” Stacy says. “We watch out for each other, and that trickles down to our arts.”

This sense of camaraderie is palpable in the Lubbock Cultural Arts Foundation. Founded in 2020, the organization has established strong relationships with both artists and arts and culture organizations. And that puts Stacy in a fun position.

“I get to be everybody’s cheerleader,” she says.

With experience in nonprofit fundraising and development, Stacy now helps coordinate collaborations and keep artists informed of opportunities like grant applications. Her attitude reflects that of the community as a whole.

“I just try to be a friend and check the ego at the door,” Stacy says. “Most people know this office is approachable and a safe space to have a conversation, whether you need help with funding or discuss a challenge and think strategically about next steps. I get to be that friend and offer that safe space.”

It’s support that pays off for individual creators as well as the arts ecosystem at large. The community is home to emerging artists populations as well as established fine art creators. Programs between colleges help new commercial musicians stay in the area. And happenings like Arts After Hours networking events, workshops about selling your work, and this year’s Texas Music Office’s conference find a home in Lubbock, too.

With programming and support for large organizations, mid-sized groups, and individual contributors across the artistic spectrum, Lubbock really does have it all.

“There’s a place for everybody,” Stacy says.




For Lubbock arts organizations: Essentials Workshop on May 15

On May 15, Mid-America Arts Alliance’s Engage program will host Essentials in Lubbock, a workshop for growth-oriented arts and cultural nonprofits.

The Lubbock Cultural Arts Foundation is hosting the event with the Louise Hopkins Underwood Center for the Arts. Participants will learn about long-term sustainability and improved community impact through workshops and one-on-one interactions.

“We’re targeting mid-level groups that have done well but don’t exactly know how to get from here to there,” Stacy says. 

For more information, contact engage@maaa.org


Header photography: The Peterson Brothers, Lubbock, Texas; Photographer Jonathan Espinoza. Courtesy of Lubbock Cultural Arts Foundation.