HOUSTON (October 7, 2019) – Mayor Sylvester Turner announced today that Lynn Wyatt, a native Houstonian with a worldwide reputation as a patron of the arts, has committed a $10 million gift to ensure that a long-awaited transformation of the former Jones Plaza downtown can be undertaken. The new square will be named the Lynn Wyatt Square For The Performing Arts.
“I’m a believer in the adage - a thriving arts culture is the cornerstone of a prosperous city. And we are indeed. The transformation of this public space will not only serve as a cornerstone for downtown, but a dynamic epi-center of Houston’s cultural footprint,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner. “In recognition of her legacy of philanthropy, it is only fitting that this space be named after Houston’s greatest benefactor of the arts, Lynn Wyatt.”
Wyatt’s gift is the core of a $29 million capital campaign to fund the transformation of a long-underutilized parcel of downtown real estate. With $10 million committed by the Downtown Redevelopment Authority and an additional $5 million contributed by the Houston First Corporation, her gift will enable the project to start construction in the summer of 2020 and be complete in the summer of 2021.
Jones Plaza was named for the family of the late Houston powerhouse Jesse H. Jones and is located across from Jones Hall. The Jones family and Houston Endowment, the philanthropic foundation established by Jesse H. and Mary Gibbs Jones, wholeheartedly agreed with the square’s renaming.
“I have long been devoted to the arts because I believe that the arts, particularly the performing arts, are the soul of any city. This is such a wonderful honor and I am delighted that this beautiful Square For The Performing Arts will be enjoyed by my fellow Houstonians and visitors long after I am gone,” said Lynn Wyatt.
Houston First Corporation, under the leadership of Chairman David Mincberg, selected award-winning architect Rios Clementi Hale Studios in 2018 to reimagine the plaza as a dynamic new space that would connect the district’s venues, create a strong identity and place, and revitalize the west side of downtown, one of Mayor Turner’s long-standing goals. Seven of Houston’s most prominent performing arts organizations - Houston Grand Opera, Houston Ballet, Houston Symphony, Alley Theatre, Theater Under the Stars, Society for the Performing Arts and Da Camera - are residents of the buildings in the Theater District. The new square is further envisioned as a focal point for the district.
“At Houston First, we lead the effort to promote Houston as one of the greatest cities in the world. The transformation of this public square will provide another opportunity to do just that, while reflecting the spirit of the performing arts that surround the site and the creative community in which we live,” said David Mincberg, Board Chairman of Houston First Corporation.
The Lynn Wyatt Square For The Performing Arts will include a performance lawn with flexible infrastructure for concerts and other free programs, a cascading water feature, trees and gardens for aesthetics and shade, a street theater, and a restaurant. Programming will reflect the Theater District’s indoor performance spaces, providing an accessible new place to engage the public.
Lynn Wyatt has long been deeply involved in Houston’s cultural life and has played an unparalleled role as a board member and donor to many of its finest arts institutions. Her commitment will help establish a “quality of life axis” among the square, the Theater District, and Buffalo Bayou Park.