Houston Ballet Managing Director Cecil C. Conner to Retire

After 17 years at the administrative helm of the Houston Ballet, Cecil C. Conner, Jr. will retire in February, but his relationship with the arts scene in Houston will still remain strong. Conner intends to continue to raise funds for the Ballet and to stay involved with the arts scene; just not as much as his current job requires

"It will be nice to go on a real trip for two weeks and not have to be constantly checking my Blackberry," Conner tells Art Attack.

Conner, who has 30 years experience as an arts administrator, became the Houston Ballet's managing director in 1995. During his tenure, he oversaw the elimination of the company's $1 million deficit, the tripling of the company's endowment and the establishment of a series of collaborative partnerships with leading companies across North America, according to a release. But it was the building of the Houston Ballet Center for Dance, which opened earlier this year, that Conner calls the culmination of his 17 years with the Ballet.

"When I got here in 1995, there were already some schematic drawings about how we could expand the location on West Gray," he says.

He'll be succeeded by James Nelson, who danced with the company from 1990 to 1996 and came into his current position as general manager in 2000.

Though Conner plans on taking more "real" vacations, he will always return to Houston, which he thinks of as his hometown.

"I remember coming to Houston from Manhattan 16 and-a-half years ago and thinking 'Wow.' But Houston is such a sophisticated, wonderful town, and I've built up a lot of friends and colleagues here."

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