Woodlands officials seeking partner entities for possible museum, cultural arts center
Preliminary plans for a museum or cultural arts center in The Woodlands are on hold as township officials continue to look for partner entities for the potential project.
During a meeting of the township’s Economic Development Committee Wednesday morning, committee members took no official action on the Cultural Arts Study to move forward with a performing arts venue or museum, citing that they are in a holding pattern.
“There’s nothing to report right now. We’re waiting to see who the partners would be,” said Nick Wolda, president of The Woodlands Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The study has been stuck in Phase III since January. The third phase of the study consists of looking for potential partners for a potential science museum and performing arts center.
Ann Snyder, who chairs the economic committee and is also a member of the township Board Director, said there are a lot of meetings and conversations that go into selecting a potential partner entity.
“We want to ensure that the operating partner meets the criteria, but also has the longevity of sustainability and success. We can’t publicly announce anything until both parties agree,” Snyder said.
The first phase of the study was completing a market analysis to figure out if The Woodlands residents wanted a museum or cultural arts center.
In the Township’s 2016 resident survey, in which just over 1,500 respondents participated, about a quarter of respondents said they would like to have additional arts or performance venues in The Woodlands.
The second phase of the study, Wolda said, narrowed the project down to the current model: a museum and cultural center for performing arts.
Former township director Mike Bass recommended during the public comment period of the meeting that the committee members try to keep community members connected to the project.
“When a project goes this long, people lose sight of what they’re working on. It loses some momentum in the community. I find that this is not top of mind for a lot of people,” Bass said.
For Amy Lecocq, who is on The Woodlands Waterway Arts Council’s advisory council, a museum or cultural arts center seems to be a project at the top of her mind.
Lecocq said she came to the meeting to find out if the committee is going to move forward on the project.
“I think it would be a real shame to drop it. This is a project that potentially increases our sales revenue, or increases hotel tax revenue,” Lecocq said. “You have to continue to keep (the community) vibrant.”
In other business, committee members voted to recommend to the township board that the consideration of any funding request from the event admission tax of 2019, including the cultural arts funding requests, be deferred.
During budgeting sessions in August, the township board received funding requests from nonprofits such as The Woodlands Children’s Museum, the Waterway Arts Council and the Inspire Film Festival, according to township board President Don Norrell.
Following the requests, the Board of Directors then deferred the funding consideration to the Economic Development Committee, which decided at the meeting Wednesday not to fund any requests but instead bring back criteria to the board for consideration.
Snyder said that while she was appreciative of what the nonprofits do, criteria needs to be developed for the requests to ensure fair fund distribution.
“There aren’t any current guidelines. The criteria needs to be developed and it needs to be thoughtful, needs to be purposeful,” Snyder said.