Hurricane Ike's effect on Houston and the Local Art Scene
It has been several weeks since Hurricane Ike slammed into Texas and there are still many people who are displaced and without power and water.
Turning on the news you still here about 30% of Houston is not back to work, does not have power and could be weeks until the city begins to
function as it did. I think it could be much longer than that before people get back into a routine, which could hurt small business in the
long run. A more specific concern is how will it affect the local arts scene in Houston.
There was recently a report saying that most of the larger art houses were not as effected by Hurricane Ike as the first thought. Supposedly the Houston Symphony, Society of the performing arts, Da Camera, the Houston Grand Opera, the Houston Ballet and Theatre Under the Stars will all be back on the theatre as soon as this weekend. The major disruption seems to be re-scheduling those patrons who were unable to see the show they had purchased tickets for when Hurricane Ike rolled into town. This is only a small annoyance to endure when so many people have lost so much. With the major houses reporting minor damage, what has happened to the huge number of smaller houses all around Houston?
There is to be a "town hall" meeting of sorts this coming Friday to discuss what has happened to the arts community in and around Houston. They are currently in the process of reaching out to people via email to try and get some sort of idea on what has happened. Were houses underwater? Which venues are still dark? Are some completely wiped away such as the Strand Theatre in Galveston, Texas?
Some of these smaller theatres were already struggling with getting people into seats and inking by with enough money to put up the next show. Ahh, the life of an artist and the roots of the old actor mantra that "You do it because you love it!" It's one thing to have a problem getting the community involved in getting out of the house and the butts into seats. At least you can continue to find interesting ways to achieve this, hard as it may be. But what happens when the neighborhood is no longer there or there has been so much damage that it could take several months or years to get back on track? Do these theatre's simply shudder the doors and go dark? Hopefully no. And there are many companies working to make sure that this does not happen.
As mentioned previously, the Houston Arts Alliance is spearheading a Town Hall to assess the damage of Hurricane Ike on the smaller arts organizations in Houston for two reasons. The first is because no one has any idea the impact that Ike has on the arts specifically. And Two, they are working to add assistance to any of their grantees as soon as possible to get the arts back on their feet. Also know that they are working on this even though they have been displaced themselves as their offices are without power! It always amazes us how we all band together in times of need. Several other arts organizations are currently working on plans to support local arts organizations including StubDog.com who is reportedly working to re-focus their annual fundraiser to help arts organizations effected by Hurricane Ike.
According to Jonathon Glus of the Houston Arts Alliance, the Americans for the Arts are already working to raise money on behalf of those in Houston. You can read more by going to their site and finding out how you can donate directly to them and make a difference.
IN this time of crisis there will be a time when we need a break from the day to day of putting our lives back in order. Think about taking the time to go out and listen to live music, see a play, enjoy some stand-up comedy... There is nothing like live theatre to completely immerse your self in for a few hours and take the focus off what has happened. Live entertainment is also a great way to reconnect with friends and family. With so much going on in Houston, don't we all need a break?