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Arts & Culture

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On the Trail

Arts &

The Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail is a highly important and unique place in the heart of downtown Austin. Due to its natural aesthetic, proximity to the lake in an urban setting, and what it offers the community, it has become a highly personal and beloved space to its users.

The Trail Conservancy (TTC) is partnering with the Austin Parks and Recreation Department (PARD) and the City of Austin Art in Public Places (AIPP) program to prepare an Arts and Culture Plan for the Butler Trail to contribute to the space and elevate the user experience, while not overwhelming, distracting, or complicating the environment.


The Heart of the Issue

Questions &

The Arts+Culture on the Trail plan is in its final review and approval phases. The Trail Conservancy organized a talented team of art professionals, community engagement specialists, innovators, and a Brain Trust team of stakeholders from the Austin community to lead this exciting project. This is more than a visionary plan for art exhibits on the Trail. It’s a plan for the Trail and its users, a vital and complex place and community supporting arts and culture activities. 

How can Arts & Cultural Strategies help?

  • Broadly serve Trail users and the surrounding communities.
  • Enhance the experience of users along the Trail.
  • Support the experience of the natural environment and resources.
  • Represent the character and diversity of Austin.
  • Align with other organizational and municipal plans and strategies that affect the Trail.
  • Increase diversity of Trail users through relevant art and cultural attractions — expanding on who is using the Trail and who feels welcome.
  • Assist The Trail Conservancy in meeting its broad goals as an organization.

Community Engagement Timeline

  • Nov. 20 – Artists and Creative Outreach Event
  • Jul. 26 – Community Brain Trust Meeting
  • Jul. 28 – Community Brain Trust Meeting
  • Oct. 25 – Community Brain Trust Meeting
  • Nov. 13 – Pop-Up at Brave Fest Community Event
  • Nov. 22 – Launched the “Share your Butler Trail & Lady Bird Lake Stories” campaign
  • Dec. 4 – Pop-Up at Holly Trail Groundbreaking Community Event
  • Jan.- Feb. – Call for Artists, Designers, and Creatives
  • Feb. 3- Jun. 1 – Online Survey
  • Spring/Summer  – Trail & Community Intercept Surveys
  • Mar. 6 – Community Workshop
  • May 14 – Arts+Culture Community Celebration – Common Waters Installation
  • Oct. 5 – MACC Advisory Board Briefing
  • Oct. 8 – Arts+Culture Community Input Pop-Up at Fortlandia Opening
  • Oct. 11 – Virtual Community Input Meeting
  • Oct. 12 – Nov. 15 – Online Survey
  • Oct. 19 – East Cesar Chavez Neighborhood C.T. Meeting Presentation (ECCNA)

Arts + Culture Projects

Common Waters

The Common Waters Demonstration Project celebrates Lady Bird Lake by intersecting art, activism, environment, and community with a collaborative temporary art installation to inform the Trail Conservancy’s Art + Culture Plan. The Common Waters project highlights the beauty and importance of Lady Bird Lake, the heart and common connector behind the Austin community. Artists Rejina Thomas, Ruben Esquivel, and Taylor Davis designed, fabricated, and installed a 10’ x 15’ floating wetland on Lady Bird Lake. These artists have a profound understanding of the history and culture of the minority communities in Austin and have a shared goal of honoring those communities. TTC, an environmental artist, Stacy Levy, and Austin-based curator, Public City, joined with these artists to make this goal a reality. 

Arts + Culture

Team and Committee

Team Leads

Todd W. Bressi is one of the nation’s leading public art planners. He has worked throughout the U.S. and Texas on numerous public art plans, including plans for art on multi-use trails. He provides strategic, program, and project guidance to several urban arts organizations through ongoing consulting. Todd managed the project and led in developing public art strategies, policies, and procedures.

Stacy Levy is one of the nation’s leading environmental artists, with a practice that explores how natural processes and urban places are intertwined. She led discussions about the relationship between public art, ecology, and urban spaces, as well as in public engagement and formulating public art opportunities.

Ellen Ryan is a national leader in developing arts and cultural initiatives within organizations with parks, recreation, preservation, and environmental missions. She brings experience in initiating arts programming at Brooklyn Bridge Park and Fairmount Park Conservancy, foundation experience, and deep involvement in national networks with these topics. She collaborated on developing arts and culture strategies, policies, and guidelines.

Public City – Meredith Powell, Miriam Conner – is an Austin-based firm with a unique focus on art-based community engagement and experience supporting community-led plans for trails in Austin. Public City played a lead role in developing community engagement strategies and was our team’s on-the-ground liaison for planning and managing that aspect of the project.

Team Members

Heidi Anderson (TTC)
Todd W. Bressi
Christine Chute Canul (PARD)
Jamie Castillo
Hanna Cofer (TTC)
Miriam Conner
Maya Curtis
Taylor Davis
Marjorie Flanagan (AIPP)
Reynaldo Hernandez (PARD)
Susan Lambe (AIPP)
Stacy Levy
Sharon Maidenberg
Meredith Powell
Ellen Ryan
Charlotte Tonsor (TTC)
Jessica Wilson (WPD)
Mary G. Yancy

Committee Members

Mary G. Yancy (Chair)
Carre Adams
Heidi Anderson (TTC)
Barbara Atwell
Andree Bober
Christine Chute-Canul
Laura Esparza
Ilse Frank
Ann Graham
Sandra Gonzales
Reynaldo Hernandez
Susan Lambe
Shea Little
Sharon Maidenberg
Michelle Rojas
Charlotte Tonsor (TTC)
Rocio Villalobos
Jessica Wilson

Share Your Story

Share your Butler Trail and Lady Bird Lake stories with us. You can read submitted Trail user stories from Trailheads on our blog.

Frequently Asked Questions

The Trail Conservancy has convened a Community Brain Trust to advise the Art + Culture Plan. This group, created just for this process, will work alongside standing TTC committees that guide arts and culture activities, ecological planning, and project planning. Reflecting various interests of Austinites, the Brain Trust is a committed mix of neighbors, Trail users, equity advocates, cultural anchors, and business and community leaders from districts along the Trail and beyond. The purpose of the Brain Trust is to help shape the engagement strategy in a way that resonates with the Trail’s communities, and to educate the team on the cultural, social, and environmental context of the Trail from a diversity of perspectives.

The Trail Conservancy in partnership with PARD will announce community engagement events where new information and updates will be presented to the community.
Arts + Culture is a new focus for the Trail Conservancy.
If you are interested in learning more about getting involved and investing in our Arts + Culture program, contact Cassie Bernhardt at

The Trail Conservancy, in partnership with Austin Parks and Recreation, is always looking for community involvement in projects on the Trail. If you’re interested in being a part of this Plan, please contact Caitlin Young at

Arts + Culture Plan Sponsors

Advocates ($25,000)

The Bill Wood Foundation
Susan Vaughan Foundation
Mary and Howard Yancy

Steward ($10,000)

Art in Public Places
Still Water Foundation
Urban Land Institute


Anne Elizabeth Wynn
Susan Zane