The Woodlands Township board of directors decided to maintain the ticket tax funding agreement to the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion on Oct. 25 following a heated debate regarding a performance by Swedish metal band Ghost that took place Sept. 2.

Two-minute impact

The Pavilion is a 501c(3) nonprofit and is not owned by the township but by The Center for the Performing Arts at The Woodlands. A contract is in place that allows the township to collect a portion of taxes from ticket sales. Todd Stephens, director of intergovernmental relations for the township, said roughly 90% of the collected taxes are given back to the Pavilion to promote operations.

Board Chair Ann Snyder said she spoke with Pavilion President and CEO Jerry MacDonald, and he informed her the organization will work with LiveNation to prevent similar acts from performing at the township in the future.

The Pavilion partners with LiveNation to contract talent, and funding from the concerts is then used for the Houston Ballet and other performing arts projects, which are free for residents.

How we got here

Following the Ghost performance Sept. 2, residents appeared multiple times before the board of directors to request some kind of action to prevent performances they described as “anti-Christian.” Residents shared a number of concerns, including being able to hear the performance outside the Pavilion and foul language use.

What they’re saying

“You're talking about, again, 2.3% of what represents the number of concerts and events that they host each year and this community to support people, and I think better than trying to seek a motion that tells us what we tell another nonprofit organization to do with their money,” board member Bob Milner said. “I believe it would be better to engage with them at a level to have a discussion about event planning in the future.”

“The Ghost performers are degrading of Christianity,” board member Shelley Sekula-Gibbs said. “They're degrading of humanity. Hate speech is not art. It never has been, and we as board members need to recognize that and not allow groups like that to degrade other groups and create scapegoats and promote violence against other groups in our township.”

“I know many of us have talked to people in the Pavilion board about this,” board member Kyle Watson said. “They are well aware that we are unhappy, that our community is unhappy, and they have let LiveNation know that we are unhappy. I may be wrong, and it's not in writing anywhere, but I would be very surprised if we have Ghost come back to this community or something similar.”