ABSTRACT: This article examines the politics and practice of urban cultural policy in Austin, Texas. I demonstrate how aspects of the local context frame how local government and cultural sector interests strive to initiate the direction of policy. While larger trends—such as Richard Florida's creative city thesis—influence cultural policy and planning, specific contextual factors including prior economic development and growth management policy, departmental organization, the forum for interaction between municipal actors and non-governmental coalitions, and the character of the city's cultural economy mediate such trends to produce policy outcomes. As this case shows, contemporary urban cultural policy is not simply due to the rise of the creative city discourse, but is an evolving product of past policy structures and shaped by local institutions and actors.