Stages Reveals Gwen Watkins as its New Managing Director

Watkins has been working in Houston’s vibrant cultural sector for more than 15 years.

By: Jul. 01, 2024
Stages Reveals Gwen Watkins as its New Managing Director
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Stages has announced that Gwen Watkins has been named the theater’s new Managing Director.

A native Houstonian, Watkins has been working in Houston’s vibrant cultural sector for more than 15 years, and possesses a passion to connect the community’s diverse audiences through the arts. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Texas A&M University and an MBA from Rice University.

Most recently, Watkins served as the Houston Symphony’s Chief Marketing & External Relations Officer from 2019 to 2024. During her time with the Houston Symphony, Watkins spearheaded transformation within the marketing department. By fostering a culture of experimentation and data-driven decision making, the department evolved into a cohesive, forward-looking and “digital first” team. Notably, in 2022, she negotiated an entirely pro bono collaboration with a prestigious design agency to execute a rebrand of the organization’s visual identity which garnered national recognition. Under her leadership, Watkins also secured a pro bono project with Boston Consulting Group to develop a robust revenue growth plan that would grow ticketing revenue from pre-COVID levels by 35% over four years, already surpassing year one and two projections. In addition, Watkins was entrusted to take on management of the expansive community engagement and educational activities of the organization, joining this work with the audience development efforts underway within the marketing department.

“My professional journey has provided me with a blend of experience within large, historical arts nonprofits along with an entrepreneurial mindset,” said Watkins. “Central to my leadership approach is a genuine passion for fostering collaborative, supportive teams and recognizing that people are the core of everything we do. I am excited to join a team where this approach is already intrinsically part of the culture. One of my goals is to further empower the Stages’ team to embody the organization’s incredible culture which will lead to collective success for the theater. Through my role as Managing Director, I intend to continue to reinforce that Stages is a vibrant and inclusive environment where everyone is invited to live more deeply and love more boldly, and embrace what makes us human.”

Earlier in her career, Watkins also served as Associate Head of Marketing & Communications at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH) where she managed diverse marketing initiatives in support of the many facets of the institution including its hundreds of thousands of gallery space, tens of thousands of art objects, art school, art house film program, cafes, shops and more. She championed inclusive decision-making processes, ensuring that all aspects of the museum’s marketing efforts resonated with diverse audiences. In addition, she led a multi-faceted and robust storytelling campaign to support fundraising and public awareness of a $450 million capital campaign during her tenure. Furthermore, Watkins produced large interdisciplinary arts events at MFAH to attract new audiences and boost revenue. 



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