HFC takes bows before Ensemble Theatre, Young Audiences

Houston • Sept. 1, 2016

American author Kurt Vonnegut's words are often sprinkled with satire. But when talking about the importance of creating art, his ideas are more straightforward.

"To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So do it," Vonnegut once advised.

Houston First Corporation supports the arts with financial support on several fronts. Recently, Houston First was named Corporate Partner of the Year by Ensemble Theatre at its 40th Anniversary Black Tie Gala.

Earlier this year, Houston First played a prominent role at Young Audiences of Houston’s 60th Anniversary Gala.

Ensemble Theatre cited Houston First, in part, for its “exemplary management of Houston’s convention and performing arts facilities” at its August 20 event at the Hilton Americas-Houston hotel. Accepting the honor for Houston First was John Rolfe, its chief administrative officer.

“It is the mission of Houston First to improve the quality of life in our city,” said Rolfe, who was also co-chair of the gala. “Showcasing our arts scene is a big part of that mission.  

“Our commitment to the arts is visible on many fronts. From small grant recipients to the major companies in the downtown Theater District to the midsize companies like Ensemble Theatre in between, we stand fully committed to the performing arts.”

Ensemble Theatre, located on Main Street in Midtown, is a professional company dedicated to the works portraying the African American experience. It is the oldest and largest of its kind in the Southwest and is one of the nation’s largest African American companies owning and operating its own facility and producing in-house.

Young Audiences of Houston, an organization that educates and inspires more than 200,000 Houston-area students, works to integrate arts into the school curriculum across 51 districts in the Houston region.

Christine West, HFC’s cultural program manager, and Vivian Montejano, Wortham Theater Center's general manager, represented HFC at the Young Audiences affair at Wortham.

In addition to funding support for the gala event, HFC presented an award to honoree Katherine Veletsos, a longtime arts advocate with more than 40 years of service in education.

"Katherine is a long-time friend of the Greek-American Community in Houston," West said. "How fun to be able to attend the 1950s-themed gala and be a part of the celebration." 

Young Audiences also recognized Trealla Epps, principal of Houston ISD's Roberts Elementary, with the Arts Empowerment Award in recognition of the campus's dedication to arts education.