Houston Symphony Fares Slightly Better Than Opera, Ballet, and Theater Counterparts

Houston area performing arts organizations have been making good use of social media by keeping stakeholders updated on damage estimates and related news. To that end, it appears that none of the larger budget organizations were spared although some fared slightly better than others.

Houston Symphony

Facebook, 8/30/17

According to a message from Board President Janet F. Clark:

  • Area parking garages have been flooded and are not accessible
  • Jones Hall, their primary venue, avoided damage to the main stage and auditorium.
  • Assets of value were moved to high ground before the storm hit and are safe.
  • The basement rehearsal room had standing water and they estimate significant damage (this item via com).

Houston Grand Opera

Facebook, 8/28/17

According to a message from HGO Managing Director Perryn Leech:

  • The Wortham, their primary venue, suffered severe water damage to the front of house.
  • Brown Theatre’s stage suffered water damage
  • Cullen Theater’s stage had less damage.
  • The basement, which contained the costume shop and storage, is completely flooded.

Houston Ballet

Facebook, 8/29/17

A message from Executive Director, Jim Nelson, focused on positives:

  • Most of costumes, including those for “The Nutcracker” productions, were safely relocated out of harm’s way.
  • The warehouse where they store sets and additional costumes sustained no damage.
  • The Ballet uses many of the same performance spaces at The Wortham as the HGO so that related venue damage is the same as above.

Alley Theatre

Facebook, 8/31/17

A message from Managing Director, Dean Gladden, spelled out what appears to be some of the most severe damage reports to date:

  • The Neuhaus Theatre, adjacent Mitchell Lobby, prop storage and basement dressing rooms filled with water that reached the ceiling, past the high-water mark of 2001’s Tropical Storm Allison.
  • The electrical systems that provide power to most of the building are under water and offline.
  • The Theatre’s Long Lobby and Hubbard Theatre did not receive any water damage.
  • Remaining performances of the current production are cancelled and the upcoming production has been relocated. Productions past that point are TBD.

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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