Jeff Young began working at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion just a few shows into its existence in 1990, working through several positions, including facility manager and chief operating officer, before assuming the role of president and CEO as of March 1.

The Pavilion, an outdoor amphitheater that opened in 1990, is part of the nonprofit The Center for the Performing Arts at The Woodlands. The Pavilion has a capacity of about 16,000 people, Young said. In 2023, the Pavilion was ranked first in the top 100 amphitheaters in the world based on ticket sales that year by Pollstar magazine, the Pavilion announced in a news release.

Can you describe your background?

I started about eight or nine shows into the very first season in 1990 and was hired in a part-time capacity as an operations assistant and ... worked from there and kind of grew and had more responsibility. I did backstage security, work with the tours and the bands, ... and then got hired on in a full-time capacity. I actually went to college at [Texas] A&M in Galveston; I wanted to be the next Jacques Cousteau. I realized that I had more chances of working in a pet store than studying about sharks and dolphins, and things like that. So I went up to main campus and got a sociology [degree] with a minor in economics.

What are your top priorities in the coming year? What are your long-range goals?

Our focal point here is ... all about the arts—it's promoting the arts; it's making them available for everyone. ... The short-term and long-term goal is to really expand our programming ... and actually going into schools and start working on curriculum and strategically work on different ways to promote the arts. That could be with scholarships and micro grants for people that are in the performing arts and things like that. ... So it's really the vision of just continuing to grow our staff to grow the team and empower them to really help promote the arts here.

Do you see the potential for expansion or renovation in the coming years at the facility?

I've been responsible for all the construction since roughly the end of the ‘90s. From ‘97 on, for us to stay at the top of the food chain and to be the premier venue, we have to adapt, we have to evolve. So yes, there will always be constant growth here and coming up with new amenities for the guests when they come to the events. We are just installing a brand-new lawn system on the hill. That is state of the art, the highest level, gold standard, so to speak. We ... continually update the facility; we are looking at, long-term, some additional amenities like adding more restrooms and adding more shade and adding more air circulation and, you know, just continually updating the facility to stay ahead of the curve.

What are the challenges of running an outdoor venue in hot Texas summers?

It is challenging. ... You don't have a climate-controlled facility; you have to deal with the elements. So, you have to plan accordingly. You have to put procedures in place for everyone's safety, when a thunderstorm comes through, and we have to pause the show. I mean, last year was the hottest summer on record. And we tried to mitigate that by, you know, making more people aware of our air-conditioned lounge that people can go into prior to and during the events to get out of the heat and watch the show. [We're] looking at adding more bottle fillers and making water more readily available and watching the pricing on water. ... I think we dropped the water price during the hottest part of the summer just to make it available and make it easier and less expensive.

Do you see an indoor arts facility on the horizon?

I think that there's been a discussion about an additional performing arts center for almost 30 years. [The Mitchells] had hired an architect and came up with construction drawings for it back in the mid-90s. And we stopped short of that, just as we started a fundraising campaign and just said, we're going to hold off on this. ... [The township] has done studies, and currently, we're working with the township, and we would love to manage the facility. I think that we're working through the specifics of what that could potentially look like and how we'll be able to expand and really push our mission.

Are there any other changes you could see in the future to help build on and maintain the success you've had?

It's imperative for us to continue to grow who we are and the physical plan ... whether it's adding a restaurant, more concession points of sale, more coverage, more covered area for guests to get out of the sun and the heat and the weather. So yes, there will be additional projects.

Do you have any wish list projects you would like to see happen here?

I think there's a lot of additional relationships that we can build on the art side on the performing arts. You know, I'd love to get the Boston Pops back. I'd love to ... work with traveling orchestras and ... the incredible Houston Symphony. We just finalized our agreement with them for this year. And I'm excited to get those shows announced for the Houston Symphony and to get the Houston Ballet back out.

Do you have any favorite concerts from over the years?

Having Sting here early on, having The Cure and Depeche Mode in the early ‘90s, having Roger Waters ... play the venue and play “The Dark Side of the Moon” ... was pretty spectacular. Having Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band on the stage [was] probably one of the greatest concerts that I've ever seen.

What would you most like people to know about the Pavilion?

We are a nonprofit, and ... the money that we create, if we have a surplus, [we want] to be able to put [it] towards scholarships and put [it] back to bringing in world-class arts organizations to perform on our stage. [We want] to go into the schools to offer curriculum. ... Many people don't realize that we have nonprofit organizations that work in our concession stands. ... I think we've given out over $5 million to nonprofits, local nonprofits here.