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A Note From Mark Folkes, President & CEO

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Dear friends,

Summer is often a time for reflection and planning in the performing arts. Many arts organizations take a break from programs on stage and spend the weeks finalizing plans for the coming season. While this isn’t necessarily true at the Hobby Center where our performance venues are activated year-round, the summer months do provide an opportunity to reflect on our work over the past year. This summer, we have much to celebrate.

By the time the season officially closes in August, we will have welcomed nearly 500,000 Houstonians through our doors since September of last year. That’s more audiences than we’ve ever hosted in a single season since we first opened over 20 years ago.

As our industry shut down in March 2020 and stayed dormant for months on end, there was much concern about whether audiences would ever return to live performing arts experiences. We understood that folks enjoyed the flexibility of less calendar commitments; a deeper comfort with arts and entertainment experiences accessible at home emerged; and lingering concerns about personal safety in large gatherings continued.

The good news: the unique and irreplaceable qualities of live performance prevailed. The intimate connection to storytelling that exists in theater that cannot be replicated through any other media; the sense of community that’s created from sharing arts experiences with other audiences; and the opportunity to participate in a moment that can never be recreated or replicated. These are the defining characteristics of our work that have brought audiences back in unparalleled numbers. Thank you for affirming the importance of live arts experiences in our community. Your participation inspires us to continue delivering exceptional and engaging arts experiences for all Houston audiences.

While the Hobby Center has experienced a robust return of audiences this year, it’s important to recognize that many performing arts organizations are struggling coming back from the closure. There’s been media attention in recent weeks on regional theaters across the country, some of the largest and most impactful organizations, who are making decisions to suspend and reduce programming as they have experience dramatic declines in audiences and philanthropy. These regional theaters are critical to the overall ecosystem that drives Broadway’s success. Many of the artists who create work in New York’s 41 Broadway theaters have developed their craft at regional theaters across the country. These organizations are essential to the overall ecosystem.

As we plan for the Hobby Center’s upcoming 2023-2024 Season, we look forward to continuing to engage with you through the full breadth of programming that exists on the stages of Sarofim Hall and Zilkha Hall. We also invite you to explore Houston’s diverse arts community beyond the Hobby Center and explore something new this season – perhaps visit a venue or an arts organization whose work you haven’t experienced before.  Explore and take risk. That’s what artists do every time they step onto the stage.

Most importantly, thank you for returning this year! We were thrilled to have you and look forward to seeing you again soon.

With gratitude,

Mark Folkes Signature First and Last

Mark Folkes
President & CEO

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