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Houston Matters

Houston Ballet Staff Share Their Harvey Recovery Story At National Conference

The Ballet’s Mary Elsey and Travis Richardson hope to help other arts organizations be better prepared for a natural disaster.

Ventilation removes moisture from the Wortham Theater Center, which flooded during Hurricane Harvey. The venue is home to numerous performing arts groups, such as the Houston Ballet.

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When the Wortham Theater Center flooded during Hurricane Harvey, the Houston Ballet not only lost many costumes, wigs, and practice studios, but they also lost their place to perform.

Since the water receded and the long rebuilding process at the Wortham began, the Ballet has had to hold performances all around town — from the George R. Brown Convention Center, to the Hobby Center, to the Smart Financial Centre in Sugar Land, just to name a few. And they won't be back in their home theater space until the holidays — about a year after they were initially displaced.

Two members of the Houston Ballet's production staff are speaking this week about their organization's experience during and after the storm at the national conference for the United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT).

Mary Elsey, the Ballet's associate production manager, and Travis Richardson, its technical director, tell Houston Matters producer Michael Hagerty about how the ordeal has changed the way they work and what advice they plan to give other arts organizations around the country to help them be better prepared for a natural disaster.

  • During Hurricane Harvey, water flooded many parts of the Wortham Center, including this ballet studio. (Photo Credit: Courtesy - Houston Ballet)
    During Hurricane Harvey, water flooded many parts of the Wortham Center, including this ballet studio. (Photo Credit: Courtesy - Houston Ballet)
  • Flooding outside the Wortham Center during Hurricane Harvey. (Photo Credit: Courtesy - Houston Ballet)
    Flooding outside the Wortham Center during Hurricane Harvey. (Photo Credit: Courtesy - Houston Ballet)
  • Flooding outside the Wortham Center during Hurricane Harvey. (Photo Credit: Courtesy - Houston Ballet)
    Flooding outside the Wortham Center during Hurricane Harvey. (Photo Credit: Courtesy - Houston Ballet)
  • Muddy footprints inside the lobby of the Wortham Center after flooding from Hurricane Harvey. (Photo Credit: Courtesy - Houston Ballet)
    Muddy footprints inside the lobby of the Wortham Center after flooding from Hurricane Harvey. (Photo Credit: Courtesy - Houston Ballet)
  • Demolition underway of a water-damaged floor inside a dance lab at the Wortham Center. (Photo Credit: Courtesy - Houston Ballet)
    Demolition underway of a water-damaged floor inside a dance lab at the Wortham Center. (Photo Credit: Courtesy - Houston Ballet)
  • The Houston Ballet's Mary Elsey, associate production manager, and Travis Richardson, technical director. They're speaking about the Ballet's experiences during and after Hurricane Harvey at a national conference for performing arts organizations.

 (Photo Credit: Michael Hagerty)
    The Houston Ballet's Mary Elsey, associate production manager, and Travis Richardson, technical director. They're speaking about the Ballet's experiences during and after Hurricane Harvey at a national conference for performing arts organizations. (Photo Credit: Michael Hagerty)

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Michael Hagerty

Michael Hagerty

Senior Producer, Houston Matters

Michael Hagerty is the senior producer for Houston Matters. He's spent more than 20 years in public radio and television and dabbled in minor league baseball, spending four seasons as the public address announcer for the Reno Aces, the Triple-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

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