The Rockport Cultural Arts District (RCAD) has announced plans to produce and distribute a documentary of the Rockport Art Colony, named one of the top ten coastal art colonies in the US.  A local film maker, photographer and journalist, Carla Tank, is filming the documentary as part of RCAD’s mission to promote economic development of the Downtown District by attracting cultural tourists, heritage travelers, young creatives, entrepreneurs and artists.  Tank, a member of RCAD’s Board of Directors, has begun interviewing key people from the colony’s history, beginning with its creation by Simon Michael in the 1940s.


Jennifer Day, RCD’s Executive Director, noted, “In addition to using the documentary to help with economic development, we plan to be partnering with local teachers and students to use the film with art, film and history curriculum.  We also hope that other film makers will be inspired to come to Rockport as Carla did from Brazil to take advantage of our many opportunities and assets.”  Tank has produced a commercial for RCAD to promote the District around the state as a tourist destination.  She commented, “I love Rockport and have been inspired to showcase our amazing history and art.  I will be using innovative techniques and technology to help this film appeal to the younger generation.”


Rockport’s Cultural District is one of 54 in the state, designated by the Texas Commission on the Arts in 2016 through a rigorous and competitive application process.  Dr. Mitch Wess, then Board President of the Rockport Center for the Arts (RCA), began the successful initiative, resulting in Rockport being the first Cultural Arts District (CAD) designated in the Coastal Bend.  RCAD has facilitated over $120,000 in CAD funding for the annual RCA Art Festival from the state for the past four years.


The District has promoted the history of the art colony with several programs and events, including commissioning local artist Steve Russell to paint a mural on North Street in 2021 portraying the inspiration of nature and harbor life for many artists.   The mural unveiling included a book-signing with Kay Betz and Vickie Merchant, authors of the “The Story of the Rockport-Fulton Art Colony:  How A Coastal Texas Town Became An Art Enclave,” published by A&M Press, and “The ABCs of the Rockport-Fulton Art Colony:  Artists and Their Inspiration.”  Betz and Merchant are consultants for the documentary.   All proceeds from the book sales have benefited the History Center for Aransas County.


An Art Colony Symposium was also sponsored by RCAD in 2022, featuring exhibits at the historic Railroad Depot, which they acquired, restored and transformed into a Depot Museum.  The Fulton Mansion and the Texas Maritime Museum were partners in the Symposium, hosting book signings and presentations for nationally known artists, art historians and authors.  Day commented, “We want to encourage all of Rockport’s creative community, including writers, photographers and filmmakers.   They have been a part of the colony for decades, and we envision this documentary drawing even more to the area.”


Find out more about the Rockport Cultural Arts District on it’s website at, or Facebook at