Proposed New Art Museum to Boost Local Economy


Dr. M. Ray Perryman is a Waco-based and internationally known economist. He delivered a presentation on behalf of the Tyler Museum of Art on January 13, 2011 during which he described the potential impact of the proposed new museum building.

Tyler Mayor Barbara Bass (left) gave opening remarks after being introduced by TMA Executive Director Kimberley Bush Tomio (right).

(TYLER, TX) January 14, 2011 – During a presentation held at Tyler Junior College’s Wise Auditorium Thursday, January 13, Waco-based economist Dr. M. Ray Perryman said that the proposed new Tyler Museum of Art would not only boost the local economy by creating up to 400 new jobs, but also attract tourism and “the creative class.” During his presentation, titled “The Potential Impact of the Proposed New Tyler Museum of Art on Business Activity in the Tyler Metropolitan Statistical Area,” Dr. Perryman identified the new museum as one of the region’s most important development projects. “I think it would be huge for this area,” he said, describing the proposed building as one that would distinguish Tyler from other similar communities in the region.

Dr. Perryman said that an important economic effect of the new museum would be the attraction of tourism dollars, funds that he described as different from those generated by other industries because the money “isn’t just re-circulating within the local economy.” Rather, when tourists visit a city, they spend money there that was generated outside the community, thereby introducing new funds into the local economy. Furthermore, Dr. Perryman described the type of visitor to a fine arts institution as “more affluent” than the average tourist and likely to spend larger dollar amounts during their visits.

A third effect of the proposed new museum, according to Dr. Perryman, would impact the local community in perhaps the most vital way. He said that a new museum, particularly one with the type of iconic design that has been completed by award-winning architects wHY Architecture of Los Angeles, would attract what he calls “the creative class,” the group of people vital to maintaining the competitive edge that makes American and local economies so strong. The creative class generally refers to professionals in fields such as bioscience, medical, technological, and other fields that are heavily impacted by creativity and innovation. “To attract the creative class, you have to have something to make them like the area,” he said. Although Tyler already has many cultural offerings, the proposed new museum would distinguish Tyler as a true cultural destination by its iconic design, its ability to host most major, world-class exhibitions, and its increased ability to offer educational and outreach programming.

Dr. Perryman concluded his presentation by describing the critical motivation behind cultivating a fine arts culture in Tyler and funding efforts such as the new museum project. Using an agricultural metaphor, Dr. Perryman painted a bleak picture of a community without a strong arts culture. “It’s always easy to cut funding for the arts,” he said. “The problem is, that’s where creativity is generated. If you do that, you eat your seed corn. If you do that, you don’t eat.” Without a strong, community-wide commitment to the fine arts, Dr. Perryman believes that the future generations will suffer the loss of a center for creative development. This culture of creativity is what he believes is critical in preserving the kind of strong, diverse economy that continues to thrive for generations. “There is no better way to shape the character of a community than through a vigorous commitment to the arts,” Dr. Perryman said. “The new Tyler Museum of Art will be a bold and defining catalyst for the area's participation in the next wave of economic and social progress.”

A growing permanent collection, expanded programming and increased staff are among the factors that compel the TMA as an institution to design and construct a new building. “We have outgrown the original 1971 facility that currently houses the Tyler Museum of Art,” said TMA Executive Director Kimberley Bush Tomio. “The single classroom restricts the number of schoolchildren we can serve; a gallery has been converted into an office and art storage room; the library now houses four staff members, and off-site facilities are needed to manage general storage needs.”

In 2007, the TMA purchased a 13.47-acre site at the corner of Lazy Creek Drive and University Boulevard where the new museum will be constructed. Construction documents for the proposed new building were completed in August 2010, and the TMA is currently in the quiet phase of fundraising for the project. “We have secured thirty-five percent of the total funds needed to complete the project, and we are excited to begin Phase 2 of the fundraising process,” said TMA Executive Director Kimberley Bush Tomio. “While we love the existing museum facility, we realize that we have outgrown this space and must pursue a visionary project that will accommodate both our current needs and those of future generations.” The proposed new museum includes additional gallery space and classrooms, an educational wing with space for children’s art, a special events facility, an expanded café area, as well as increased art storage and management space.

The building will also earn at least the LEED Silver rating, which further distinguishes the building as one of very few museums in the world. LEED is an internationally recognized green building certification system, providing third-party verification that a building or community was designed and built using strategies aimed at improving performance across all the metrics that matter most: energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts. “We believe that this project is a critical venture for the TMA and for our community,” said Ms. Tomio. “It is a project that will benefit the community for many generations to come.”

Dr. Ray Perryman is President and CEO of The Perryman Group, an economic research and analysis firm based in Waco, Texas. He holds a B.S. in Mathematics from Baylor University and a PhD in Economics from Rice University. In the professional arena, Dr. Perryman has authored more than 2,000 trade articles, publishes a subscription forecasting service and a monthly newsletter, writes a syndicated newspaper column, hosts a daily radio commentary, and appears regularly on National Public Radio. His firm engages in a broad range of complex projects for major corporate and governmental interests and has served the needs of more than 2,000 clients.

The Tyler Museum of Art, accredited by the American Association of Museums, is supported by its Members, Tyler Junior College, and the City of Tyler, and is located at 1300 S. Mahon Ave., adjacent to the Tyler Junior College campus off East Fifth Street. Regular hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday. (The Museum is closed Mondays and major holidays.) Lunch is available in the Museum Café from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and the TMA Gift Shop is open during Museum hours. For more information, call (903) 595-1001 or visit