The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts is dedicated to interdisciplinary collaboration across the performing, visual, and literary arts. Based at the University of Houston, the Mitchell Center commissions and produces new works, presents public performances and exhibitions, offers curriculum and scholarships, and hosts residencies with renowned visiting artists from throughout the world. The Center is home to the Mitchell Artist Lecture, an annual event featuring a pioneer in contemporary art-making, as well as CounterCurrent, an annual spring festival of new performance. The Mitchell Center forms an alliance among five departments at UH: the School of Art, Moores School of Music, School of Theatre & Dance, Creative Writing Program, and Blaffer Art Museum.
The Mitchell Center was formed in late 2003 with a gift from George Mitchell in honor of his wife, Cynthia Woods Mitchell, whose long-standing love of the arts was so evident throughout her life. The Mitchell family’s desire was to make a donation that would impact each of the University of Houston’s strong arts programs. Working closely with UH leadership, the family proposed a programmatic alliance among the schools of Art, Music, and Theatre & Dance, as well as the Creative Writing Program and Blaffer Art Museum. $16 million was designated to form an endowment for the Centers programs, and $4 million covered the renovation of the School of Theatre & Dance facility, making room for new studios, a lobby for the Wortham Theatre, and offices for the Mitchell Center staff. The building was renamed the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts.
In its early months, Center operations were overseen by its board: the directors of the five member units. In December 2005, Karen Farber became the Center’s first full-time director, with a mandate to develop a cohesive vision and program for the Center, while planning for its future.
In its first few years, the Mitchell Center has offered extensive public events, residencies, and commissions; developed a comprehensive interdisciplinary curriculum for UH students; compiled a Faculty Affiliate Network of the Center; and continued to fund scholarships and fellowships on an annual basis. For more information about past programming, see past events.