The Hobby Center for the Performing Arts Doubles Offerings in ExxonMobil Discovery Series to Enrich Houston's Youth

Jo-Carolyn Goode | 5/7/2024, 12:41 p.m.
The Hobby Center for the Performing Arts is set to broaden its impact with an ambitious expansion of the ExxonMobil …

 The Hobby Center for the Performing Arts is set to broaden its impact with an ambitious expansion of the ExxonMobil Discovery Series for the 2024-25 season. This vital program will now reach an estimated 20,000 fifth-grade students across the Greater Houston area, doubling the number of performances from previous years and incorporating new school districts and artistic partnerships.

Launched with the goal of democratizing access to the arts, the ExxonMobil Discovery Series provides free live theatre, music, dance, and more to local students. This initiative includes complimentary bus transportation and coordinated logistics to ensure every child can participate without financial barriers. After a successful inaugural year serving 118 schools in Houston, Alief, and Spring ISDs, the upcoming season will expand to include Aldine, Pasadena, and Dickinson ISDs, among others.

Deborah Lugo, Vice President of Programming and Education at the Hobby Center, emphasized the mission of the program: "As Houston’s Performing Arts Center, our role is to open students' minds through the arts and help them discover their own creativity, self-expression, and sense of belonging. We are thrilled to partner with nine esteemed local organizations this year, including new collaborations with DACAMERA, FLY Dance, and Houston Contemporary Dance Company, making arts a cornerstone of the fifth-grade experience in Houston."

The program's core mission is to introduce fifth graders to the arts during a critical developmental stage. It goes beyond mere exposure by integrating pre- and post-performance educational materials that align with Texas teaching objectives, enabling teachers to weave these arts experiences into broader curricular activities.

Susan Chacko, Assistant Principal at Miller Intermediate (Alief ISD), shared a touching anecdote from a past performance, "A student asked, 'Did you do all this for us?' Indeed, the Hobby Center did! This initiative is not just an outing but a transformative experience for our students."

The ExxonMobil Discovery Series not only cultivates an early appreciation for the arts but also develops vital skills such as creativity, communication, and critical thinking. These skills are essential across various fields, including STEM and humanities, underscoring the program's broader educational impact.

Harrison Guy, Founder and Artistic Director of Urban Souls Dance, highlighted the program's community impact: "We engage intimately with students and teachers from all over the city, telling local Black history and igniting a spark of recognition and pride in our shared heritage."

Kinga Ferguson, Executive Director of Ars Lyrica Houston, also noted the significance of community building through this initiative: "The Discovery Series not only brings the performing arts to children who might otherwise lack access but also fosters a collaborative network of arts organizations working together to enhance arts education in Houston."

As the ExxonMobil Discovery Series prepares for its most extensive season yet, it continues to embody the Hobby Center's commitment to nurturing the next generation of artists and arts appreciators, ensuring that every child has the opportunity to experience the transformative power of the arts.

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