Midtown Arts & Theater Center Houston marks five years of serving Houston’s artists and organizations. Although temporarily closed to the public due to the pandemic, MATCH and a number of artists reflect back on how the facility has benefited the Houston arts community.
After its initial conception in 2003, followed by twelve years of planning, fundraising, and construction, MATCH hosted its first performance on October 2, 2015. Three months after this soft opening, MATCH announced its grand opening in January 2016 and marked the occasion with a block party.
Developed in cooperation with the City of Houston, capitalized by the city’s visionary philanthropic community, and supported in part by HoustonFirst, MATCH’s unique operating structure made modern, fully-equipped performance spaces available to many for whom other venues were unaffordable and often far too large.
Once up and running, MATCH quickly became the premier performance venue for Houston’s small and mid-sized arts and culture organizations. Established companies such as Main Street Theater, DiverseWorks, and The Catastrophic Theatre moved their programming to MATCH, and new groups and artists found it to be a perfect platform to premiere their new company or work.
As word got out, MATCH found itself operating at full capacity, booking four theaters, a gallery, and flexible rehearsal spaces a year or more in advance. On a typical weekend evening, one might find a string quartet concert, a play reading, a dance festival, and a movie screening all under one roof, while the other side of the open-air breezeway would see rehearsals for upcoming shows, a gallery exhibit, and multiple arts and non-profit organizations operating out of shared office suite.
Since opening, MATCH has seen more than 4,500 performances by more than 500 organizations and individuals, plus innumerable exhibits, receptions, artist talks, classes, meetings, and so on.
Sadly, none of these activities have taken place since March 12, 2020, when MATCH was forced to close its gates in response to the global pandemic. MATCH remains closed to the public but continues to find innovative ways to support the arts community. Many groups have turned to virtual presentations and need space to rehearse, develop, and record their art for online streaming.
MATCH equipped its theaters with video recording/streaming capabilities and instituted new safety measures and cleaning regimens to allow artists to rehearse and record their digital content. New ticketing features provide groups the ability to sell tickets to their virtual events and stream their content through MATCH’s platform.
“At our core, we are here to serve the many groups and artists that come through MATCH. When their needs change, we change. Our team listens and adapts, and we will continue to do so as we embark on the next five years,” says Fong Chau, Director of Patron Services.
To mark this anniversary, MATCH gathered many of its clients to reflect back on the past five years in a special anniversary video.