Houston’s Arts Community Feels The Sting Of Summer’s Severe Weather

The severe rain and flooding earlier this summer have made outdoor events tricky for many, from the biggest to the smallest arts organizations.

By Amy BishopJuly 6, 2016 9:30 am| , ,

From Houston Public Media

It’s barely 10:00 on Sunday morning and the line outside the parking lot of NRG Stadium is growing quickly. For the most part, it’s teens and 20-somethings ready for a marathon day outside, donning sunglasses, tank tops, and shorts.

It’s the Free Press Summer Fest, the two-day music festival that’s usually held at Eleanor Tinsley Park in Houston. But for the second year in a row, the weather forced it to relocate to the NRG parking lot at the last minute.

“There’s a lot that goes into it,” says Omar Afra, the festival’s founder. “You’re basically throwing the whole festival into a jar and shaking it and hoping all the pieces come back together. Logistically, it’s a nightmare.”

Afra estimates that a festival the size of FPSF spends an additional 25 percent of their budget to relocate, which usually involves hiring more staff and spending extra money on marketing to inform concert goers of the move. Sometimes they have to cancel and rebook hotel rooms for the musicians who want to stay closer to the new venue.

Not everyone has the advantage of having a backup location.  In late May, the Houston Grand Opera had to cancel their performance of Tosca at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion.  

“We only get to go to the Woodlands once a year and therefore not being able to do performances up in the north of Houston is a blow,” says Perry Leech, HGO’s Managing Director.  “Financially, we’ll have to work that through and see exactly what it costs us.”

Leech says there’s another blow that’s hard to put a price tag on — Opera goers in that area who are unable to get downtown to see a performance may not get to experience the Houston Grand Opera at all this year.

It’s not just the big ticket events that’ve been hurt by bad weather, however.  It’s trickled down to the area’s local independent artists who rely on outdoor markets.

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