From Houston Repertoire ballet performances to plays and musicals; from Indian flute music to bluegrass; from history museums to a new railroad museum—Tomball's art scene is dynamic and growing.
"The art community in Tomball is phenomenal," said Shirley Scarpetta Skidmore, co-director of DaVinci Artists Gallery in Tomball, which is run as a co-op with 19 artists sharing the space. "Art brings a community together. It's a chance to express who we are."
Tomball marketing director Mike Baxter has been working to increase art in Tomball with various festivals throughout the year, including the Honky Tonk Music Festival in March.
"These festivals have given us the opportunity to expose the community to a wide range of music," Baxter said. "I enjoy lots of styles of music and from what I've seen the community does as well."
Attendance at the festivals continues to increase, Baxter said. At last year's Honky Tonk Festival, there were about 3,600 people, an increase from 1,500 in 2012. In addition, attendance at the Bluegrass Festival increased to 2,900 people from 1,600 in 2012, he said.
"I think people are hungry for entertainment and a festival environment in north Harris County that before you'd only find in Houston in the inner loop," he said. "We're making it more available to them. And it's free admission."
Baxter has already lined up the bands for the Rails and Tails Mudbug Festival in May, which includes a variety of music—jazz, '70s, Cajun, Caribbean and Latin. Baxter is working to add a new festival this year, the Tomball Texas Music Festival, to be held over Labor Day weekend.
"In the past, Tomball was primarily country western or country," Baxter said. "Our festivals have opened up the music that's coming to Tomball."
The Houston Railroad Museum is working with Tomball city officials to move its museum near the Tomball Historic Depot Plaza. Tomball plans to finalize the purchase of the property to house the museum in February and the museum is expected to open in 2015.
In addition, the Tomball Museum Center features a dozen historic buildings and museums. And Tomball has a variety of bronze sculptures at the Depot, representing the city's history, including a sculpture of Thomas Ball, the town's namesake.
The Regional Arts Council
The nonprofit Regional Arts Council has been working to expand arts in Tomball for 26 years. Chairwoman Paula Whitaker said she is pleased with how much art is now offered regularly in Tomball.
"It is wonderful for our community that the city and the college offer so much," Whitaker said. "We're thrilled to see that."
The Regional Arts Council sponsors and coordinates with the Houston Repertoire Ballet to bring the "Nutcracker" to Tomball in December. In addition, the group is bringing the ballet company to Tomball in April.
"Art is critically important for a community," Whitaker said. "Statistics show that a community that is rich in art, such as performing arts and programs like the ballet, are well-balanced, they have less crime. It helps the community become a better community and brings people together."
In addition, The Regional Arts Council has a scholarship endowment at LSC–Tomball providing an annual scholarship to a student older than 25 and majoring in some form of the arts.
"We are leaving a legacy for art and education," Whitaker said.
Lone Star College
LSC–Tomball offers a variety of performing arts throughout the year at its 30,000-square-foot Performing Arts Center, including musicals and plays.
"LSC-Tomball not only provides high quality performances, arts events and festivals for the local community, we also are well-known for providing top-quality education in the arts to our students," college spokeswoman Nicole Finkbeiner said.
The DaVinci Artists Gallery also works with LSC-Tomball. The gallery recently held a student art contest for local high school and LSC students. The top three artists had their art on display at the gallery.
The gallery also hosts an art reception open to the public on the first Friday of each month, offering free wine and hors d'oeuvres, and an array of music, such as an Indian flute player and acoustics.
"We want to encourage that fire, that passion for art," Skidmore said. "It's a place for all of our local artists to be proud to show their work and to gain exposure. It's a place for the community to gather. Why not Tomball? This is our home."