Sunday, August 26 will mark the 25th Annual Theater District Open House, and that anniversary is only one aspect that makes this year's festival special.
"This is sort of the first time the district has been up and running as a whole. This is us saying we're fully back online and we're fully back ready to do it," said Perryn Leech, Managing Director of Houston Grand Opera and Board Chair of Theater District Houston.
Leech said the return of the Open House is all the more meaningful in light of the comeback arts organizations have made from major damages inflicted by Harvey a year ago – including extensive flooding in the Alley Theatre and Wortham Center, which forced many groups to relocate and reschedule much of last season.
The Wortham sustained about $70 million worth of damages, according to Leech, and the overall combined economic loss in the downtown theater district related to Harvey last season was $225 to $250 million.
"I'm just very proud of all the arts groups because there was never a sense of giving up. There was a sense of rolling up our sleeves, getting on with it, getting our performances done."
Looking ahead to the new 2018-19 season, Leech said with a nervous laugh, "My biggest hope is that we don't have another hurricane! But, honestly, it really is about the journey of recovery for all the arts groups … The arts are central to who we are as a city."
For this year’s Open House, he noted that they've beefed up the free-performance offerings to make the event extra special, and the Wortham – though still undergoing repairs, with a grand re-opening set for September 26 – will open its foyer to the public for the first time since the storm.
"None of us will ever be the same organization again because we've stood shoulder to shoulder with each other and gotten over these huge challenges of last year and come out with some triumphs hopefully."
The August 26th TransCanada Theater District Open House will feature free activities, performances, costumed characters, demonstrations, tours, and special ticket deals at the Alley Theatre, Hobby Center, Jones Hall, Revention Music Center, and Wortham Center.
Listen to the complete interview with Perryn Leech below: