New director to take lead of Waterway Arts Festival
Come spring, guests to The Woodlands Waterway Arts Festival will see a new face at the helm.
The Woodlands Arts Council announced on Nov. 11 that Houston-area events consultant Kelly Batterson was hired earlier this fall to take charge of one of the township’s biggest cultural events — The Woodlands Waterway Arts Festival, held in April every year.
“I love art,” Batterson said. “It comes from that.”
The west Houston resident has more than two decades experience in events management and has worked with the Bayou City Art Festival, the Houston International Festival, Houston’s Independence Day celebration — Freedom Over Texas — the Thanksgiving Day Parade and the Mayor’s Holiday Celebration and Tree Lighting.
But most importantly, said former Arts Council advisory board member Angela Colton, is that Batterson has significant experience with marketing and sponsorship solicitation — important traits when coordinating a festival that sees more than 700 artist applications, 200 artist exhibitions, 15,000 visitors and collects tens of thousands of dollars each year for community art programs.
“It was the right choice,” Colton said. “She’s got the right stuff.”
Batterson volunteered with the festival in 2016 and 2017 and helped direct the latest iteration of the festival in April. In 2019, she’ll be overseeing the entire staff.
“When you’re managing that many people at an event of that size, you need diplomacy and good people skills,” Colton said. “An appreciation for the arts is important and understanding the dynamics of working with artists.”
The job entails everything from securing food vendors to marketing the festival in the media. As director, Batterson will oversee the volunteer programs, artist selections, security and ticketing and site operations.
“I have a varied background in that way,” Batterson said. “So it was a good fit.”
As for exhibits, the Arts Council has a few new tricks up its sleeve.
While the final touches are yet to be made, the festival is set to feature a “Spotlight on Mexico” exhibit among its new cultural arts exhibits — a celebration of all things art from south of the border, complete with a mariachi, gallery artists and a living museum with weaving and pottery demonstrations.
The exhibit, Batterson said, will open up the festival to new audiences eager to learn about the culture.
“We really hope that it comes together,” she said. “If we pull it off and it works, we can do a different country every year.”
After the 2018 festival was somewhat overshadowed by unseasonably cold and drizzly weather, Batterson jokingly said she is seekeing redemption in terms of weather and, as every event planner does, higher and higher attendance.
“If everybody is happy, we get record numbers, our artists sell well — that’s what I would consider success,” Batterson said.