As the days get longer and Austinites' schedules start looking a lot more fun, our premier arts organizations start kicking off their summer programs. Whether you're a regular visitor looking for something new, or completely clueless but ready to jump in, there are plenty of opportunities this summer to break the mold. Take a class or see a movie with friends; it's as involved as you want it to be.
The following five arts organizations offer year-round programming in Austin, often at little or no cost. The summer schedules generally run through the end of May to August or even September. Most require RSVPs.
ACL Radio and The Long Center: The Drop In concert series
Thursdays, May 25 to August 10
It's hard to keep track of all these events, especially a month or more out. The Drop In, a free outdoor concert series held annually by ACL Radio and the Long Center, addresses this calendar fatigue with a timed-release schedule. On Fridays, the organizers announce the artist, and members get to RSVP; on Mondays, RSVPs open up to everyone, and the concert is held that Thursday. This process happens weekly, and will include 21 artists over the course of the series, including some Austin names like Urban Heat, Moody Bank$, and Thebrosfresh.
Announcements will be made weekly by email and on social media. Sign up at thelongcenter.org.
The Contemporary Austin — Laguna Gloria: Art school classes
Starting May 27, dates vary by class
We don't all have the time or funds for an art degree, but art school at the Contemporary Austin — Laguna Gloria can make an artist out of any Austinite. Classes cover pottery, drawing, sound art, even smartphone photography, and more, for a well-rounded course list. Artists who are just starting out might consider "Intro to Art: 2-D," which invites artists to try several different media over seven classes, while some classes like "Advanced Watercolor Techniques" could be good for people who actually did go to art school. There are more than 100 in-person classes for adults and children of various ages in the summer programming, and seven adult classes are available online.
Classes are open to members only, but annual memberships ($50) can be bought at a 20 percent discount using the code ARTSCHOOL. Visit thecontemporaryaustin.org to browse classes.
Paramount Theatre: "Summer Classics"
May 27 to September 2
Summer feels like a good time to catch up on all those film classics you haven't seen, but it's not a time for planning. The Paramount Theatre is doing the work with more than 90 titles slated through the first few days of September, with creative scheduling blocks like "I’m Sure ChatGPT Will Turn Out Just Fine," featuring The Terminator and Robocop on June 11. Partner organizations are helping with curation, including Hyperreal Film Club, We Luv Video, and UMLAUF Sculpture Garden. Some of the screenings will celebrate anniversaries, Pride Month, and more, and some will invite special guests.
Visit austintheatre.org to see the full schedule of films, join the fan club, and more.
Waterloo Greenway: Free community events
June 5 to August 18
The Greenway is undergoing some changes this summer, but throughout the longterm projects, it's still offering lots of free programming for diverse audiences. The first several events for summer celebrate Pride Month, with workout classes, a discussion on identity, performances, and more. Then, the rest of the schedule through August is more varied, addressing different topics pertaining to conservation for kids and adults in different ways. There will also be two outdoor movie screenings, with more fun included like live music and themed snacks.
These free classes are open to everyone. Visit waterloogreenway.org to see the schedule.
Texas Performing Arts
June 10 to August 6
Texas Performing Arts recently announced a new season starting on September 7 with a staging of The Book of Life, but there are a few more events to fill up the summer before it kicks off. A few iconic shows including the long-awaited Hairspray and a rare joint concert by soul singers Gladys Knight & Patti LaBelle will sweep Austinites off their feet. Most of the programming would happen in any season, but two shows are made in collaboration with Summer Stock Austin, a student theater collective: The Wizard of Oz and Grease.
Check texasperformingarts.org for event listings, which vary in type, price, and venue.