Art Center (copy)

The purchase of this Eighth Street brick building in 2018 marked a solid step forward for the Art Center of Waco's move to downtown.

When the newsroom discussed 2018's top local news stories several weeks ago, the ones involving the arts in my mind didn't quite make the bar for the Top 10, though definitely they were notable for the arts organizations or groups involved.

And they were notable, particularly as some were first steps that may lead to bigger things for the arts in Waco. At the always present risk of Leaving Something Out — the bugaboo of public list-making — here are some of 2018's major arts events, not numbered or necessarily ranked.

The Art Center of Waco makes its downtown move — A structural failure in the Art Center of Waco's longtime home on the edge of the McLennan Community College campus, discovered in the fall of 2017, forced the hand of Art Center board members to do something talked about for at least a decade or two: moving back to downtown Waco.

The first step toward that took place in April when board members and a search committee bought a single-story brick building, once used as a daycare center, on South Eighth Street that offered a good location and renovation possibilities for a reasonable price.

That move is still in front of the Art Center — fundraising is past the halfway point the last I heard, but sometimes the final push feels the hardest — although its staff expects to move into new office facilities within the next few months.

A titanic Mayborn Museum exhibit — The Mayborn Museum has had well-attended touring exhibits in the past, but bringing in "Titanic: The Artifacts Exhibition" took the museum to a new level of hosting a blockbuster show.

A creatively designed exhibit integrating some 150 objects recovered from the debris field of the sunken 1912 passenger liner proved an attraction to both local and out-of-town Titanic fans. The results: a hefty boost in the Mayborn's annual attendance, valuable experience in managing the logistics of future blockbuster shows and higher local and regional visibility for the museum.

A Waco Sculpture Zoo — What started as a modestly-sized project to mark the 25th anniversary of the Cameron Park Zoo with a Sculpture Zoo struck a chord with more than a dozen zoo and arts donors led by Waco businessman Clifton Robinson. Their private backing provided around $700,000 to expand the project to 28 animal sculptures in the Lake Brazos corridor.

A snag in preparatory work needed for the sculptures' bases has delayed installation to 2019, but the Sculpture Zoo will be the second largest group of Waco public art since the Branding the Brazos tribute to the Chisholm Trail in Indian Spring Park.

Waco walls celebrate street art — The completion of a vividly colored "1,000 Hopes" youth-driven mural project on a downtown building wall in midsummer primed Waco's pump for attention to street art. That attention took a major boost in September when Cultivate 7twelve exhibited "Haight Street Rat" by famed British street artist Banksy, drawing more than a thousand viewers in the first few days of its three-month Waco stay. 

The reception to the Banksy work, in turn, led Parisian street artist Blek le Rat to make a Waco visit in November, with the artist spray-painting his distinctive stenciled images on six Waco buildings.

Waco performing arts center — It's more like a first step leading to a first step, but Waco city council members in late 2018 signaled an interest in exploring the idea of a Waco performing arts center by okaying a bid process for a consulting study on the subject.

Tribune-Herald entertainment editor