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Lights Out For Hemisfair's Luminaria, But Go On At River North

One of San Antonio’s big citywide celebrations has been getting an overhaul: It’s Luminaria, the light-centered, art-focused springtime celebration that has thrilled San Antonians at Hemisfair for the last several years. But not anymore.

“We like to move kind of with how the city is moving. And that area with the Tobin Center coming up, and the Southwest Center’s already there, just seemed like a really good palate to stage Luminaria this year," said Luminaria Board President Liz Tullis on moving the celebration from Hemisfair to River North.

But that is not Luminaria's only move, as Ali Houssaini detailed.

“Early November seemed like a time when hotels could use a boost for the business,” he said.

Houssaini is a Strategic Planner who helped develop Luminaria’s Master Plan.

“It also made a lot of sense in terms of the international arts calendar," he said. "One of the founding principles of Luminaria was to bring worldwide attention to the great arts scene that’s going on in San Antonio.”

High attendance is the objective and March’s arts calendar was filled, but Houssaini found one clear opening.

“We found that in the global arts calendar we found that the biggest opening was November 7 and 8,” he said.

Each year after Luminaria, the board would look back after the event and find key, unanswered questions about it. Something was needed and Tullis said that that something was a plan. So the board created a master plan. The plan revealed some surprises, as Houssaini reveals.

“In doing the strategic plan we actually found out that there were a lot of people burned out, especially in the arts community, about doing this event, and especially just for doing it one day,” he said.

I asked him about some grousing about the changes from some artists.

“I think people are grousing because the communications have not been very good," Houssaini explained. "We’re taking steps to address that right now. We’re going to see a lot more attention being given to San Antonio artists, and that’s going to include being picked up in national and international galleries, getting national and international press, and getting the attention they want.”

Jack Morgan can be reached at jack@tpr.org and on Twitter at @JackMorganii