Culture / Arts / Performing Arts

Houston Power Couples Step Up to Help the City’s Reeling Performing Arts Scene

Making a Difference is More Important Than Ever

BY // 07.23.20
photography Wilson Parish

We had hoped against hope that COVID-19 would be waning as we approached the Fall Season of 2020 to let maestros lift their batons on concerts, see curtain rises on plays and have charitable fundraising kick into high gear. No such luck. With Texas infection and death rates soaring, most calendars remain blank for the fall and the performing arts are hard hit.

Just this week, Houston Ballet announced that it was scrapping its fall season and relegating The Nutcracker to a soupcon of the original.

With this dismal immediate future for the performing arts, PaperCity continues its special series on those who are going the extra length to help support the arts during this crisis. This is the fifth story in the series. To read the other stories in the series, go here.

Today, we spotlight two Houston couples who have a long history of supporting the city’s various arts groups.

Leticia & Steve Trauber

Leticia & Steve Trauber
Leticia & Steve Trauber’s interest in the performing arts dates back to his sixth grade performance in ‘Oliver.’ (Photo by Wilson Parish)

Ardent performing arts supporters Leticia and Steve Trauber have long committed time and money to Houston’s theater scene. Currently Steve serves on the board of the Society for the Performing arts and Theatre Under the Stars’s board and its Foundation Board. He has served as board chair for both organizations. Leticia has served on the boards of Houston Ballet and TUTS and currently is a trustee of the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University, which is the alma mater of both. Over the years, they have chaired nine galas and/or capital campaigns for local nonprofits, raising more than $20 million.

The duo have been avid theater-goers since they first lived in New York City early in Steve’s career. It was a love they brought back to Houston where he is vice chairman and global head of Energy with Citi.

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Why is survival of the arts groups important to you?

“First and foremost, we both truly enjoy the performing arts.”

“We also believe having strong and vibrant performing arts provides great depth and attractiveness to the City of Houston. One reason we love Society for the Performing Arts so much is because of the quality and diversity of the programming . . . We also like TUTS, and SPA, because they appeal to all socio-economic groups. It’s not just for the upper or upper middle class. Also, TUTS‘ educational component is very important to us.”

What are the organizations’ struggles at this time and are you able to help?

“The Covid pandemic has really put extreme pressures financially on all performing arts organizations. As you can imagine, they still have significant costs to run the organizations and are not able to generate revenues by putting on performances. Moreover, many  people are struggling financially in our community due to rising unemployment or because their own financial picture has deteriorated, both because of the pandemic. As a result of this, the ability for performing arts organizations to raise money to keep their organizations going and to fund their costs including employee costs,  has been very stressed.

“Leticia and I have made very sizable personal contributions to the organizations that we are directly involved in. We have been so blessed to be part of this wonderful community and blessed to have jobs and we felt it was important to help support these organizations in such time of dire need.

“I would encourage everyone reading this story now that has the ability to make a financial contribution to their favorite performing arts organizations to do so now. It is extremely important to their survival and to keeping Houston at forefront of quality and diversity of performing arts in the world.”

Betty & Jess Tutor

Jesse & Betty Tutor

Jess & Betty Tutor have made the Houston Symphony the focus of their arts involvement (Photo by Wilson Parish)

Betty and Jess Tutor’s interest in the arts also began in their youth. Jess attempted to learn violin but, he admits, that football won out while Betty was introduced to music, art and theater appreciation by her mother. Both are Houston Symphony Life Trustees and both serve on the symphony Board of Governors. Together they head the symphony Legacy Society and chair the Endowment campaign. Jess is a former chairman of the Houston Symphony Board. In addition to their varied contributions to the symphony, Betty is a member of the Houston Grand Opera Board of Trustees while Jess is a former HGO board member.

What is your view on the arts situation in light of COVID-19?

“Survival. Survival. It’s all about survival in these trying times. Organizations must be creative in their efforts to reach out to the public and keep them involved. John Mangum, the symphony CEO, is about creative and pro-active thinking with his staff, orchestra and board members . . . The symphony was able to launch a You Tube musical experience called “The Living Room Series” which showcased some orchestra members performing with their families in their homes.

“This gave the public the opportunity to help support the symphony organization. Public participation helps bridge the financial gap if we want these groups to survive.”

What does the future hold for performing arts groups?
“Hopefully, in the fall, using social distancing, a small number of patrons will have the opportunity to attend a concert in Jones Hall. We all must help arts organizations. Normalcy will return. Music and the arts help to bring peace to society! If you have the opportunity to see an arts performance through a streaming activity or a zooming experience and a donation is asked, please think of contributing.

“Any amount is appreciated! Little by little we can make the difference!”

Part of the Special Series:

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