Society for the Performing Arts will change its name in April

Urban Souls Dance Company in the World Premiere of “Colored Carnegie” by Harrison Guy, 2021 SPA Houston Artist Commissioning Project / Melissa Taylor Photography

After more than 50 years of being known as Society for the Performing Arts – or SPA, for short – the nonprofit arts presenter will change its name on April 12, 2022.

As recently announced in its March newsletter:

You’ve known us as Society for the Performing Arts. On Apr. 12, we’re changing our name, and our look. 

We’re changing our name, but not our commitment to ignite and cultivate passion for the performing arts, and more than ever, to support and amplify the voice of the artist.  

Society for the Performing Arts

Founded in 1966, Society for the Performing Arts is considered one of the major arts organizations in downtown Houston’s Theater District, and it has become “the largest nonprofit presenting organization of its kind in the Southwest,” according to its website.

Its founding dovetailed with the 1966 opening of Jones Hall. Created with the intention of filling the new venue with performances, Society for the Performing Arts – which would make its home in Jones Hall – would help ensure audience attendance in that space season after season, along with performances by the Houston Symphony and, until 1987, Houston Ballet and Houston Grand Opera.

CEO Meg Booth interviews 2021 SPA Houston Artist Commissioning Project awardees: musician Sonny Mehta of Riyaaz Qawwali, poet-playwright Deborah DEEP Mouton, and choreographer Harrison Guy / Melissa Taylor Photography

In addition to bringing international touring artists, musicians, dancers, actors, and speakers to Houston, the organization also champions local artists through its Houston Artist Commissioning Project – an initiative launched in 2020 that aims to support new works by the city’s artists, in particular those of marginalized communities.

Houston Arts Journal reached out to Society for the Performing Arts with a few questions about its forthcoming name change:

Why is SPA changing its name now?

For years, there’s been interest in changing the name. With our 2020 Strategic Plan, working with our board, community partners, and staff, it was clear that this was a natural time to make the change.

What prompted this decision, and is it possible to say anything about what it might symbolize?

We wanted a name that better represented who we are, to match the scale and diversity of the arts we present on stage.

Will the name change be accompanied by any other changes within the organization or programming that you can share with us right now?

Yes! We’re getting a whole new look, launching a new website, and a new membership program. On the programming side, we’re building on the success of the Houston Artist Commissioning Project.

Something that isn’t changing—we’ll continue presenting the most diverse live arts experiences in Houston. We’re set to announce the 22/23 Season next month.

So the new name will be revealed to the public on April 12 and officially go into effect that day?

The new name and brand, the 22/23 Season, and memberships all go live on April 12. Attendees at the 2022 Kaleidoscope Ball get a first look at the brand on April 2.

We’re so thankful for our stakeholders, supporters, partners, and audiences. Without their financial support, their minds, their love for this city and for the performing arts, this work wouldn’t be possible. Under a new name, we’re ready for decades of arts yet to come.

Any hints you can drop now about the new name?

It’s a bit shorter!

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