Galveston Cultural Arts District relaunches, led by Sarah Piel


For years, Sarah Piel has applied her skills to organizing workshops and festivals, raising funds, and overseeing educational programs at The Grand 1894 Opera House in Galveston. Now, with the support of her peers at work and others in the downtown Galveston arts community, she is relaunching efforts of the Galveston Historic Downtown Cultural Arts District to bring together artists and arts organizations under a funded umbrella of support.

“I’m super excited that the Mitchell Foundation was the first to see the value of bringing together arts people,” Piel said.

In September 2023, she applied for a grant to the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation and heard in November that she and the arts district would receive a generous amount to kick off the new effort.

“My experience at the opera house for the last 12 years has really given me the tools to do this,” Piel said. “Writing grants, curating a fine arts festival, organizing the children’s festival, I’ve connected with musicians, artists, and so many facets of the arts scene here. Now what we need to do is find the people within the arts district who want others to know what they’re doing, sharing information. It’s been super fun to connect people with others they don’t know but who care about the same thing.”

Piel attributes her success at making these connections and organizing efforts to enrich the arts to her team at the opera house, especially Executive Director Maureen Patton.

“She is the ultimate,” Piel said. “Her 42 years at the opera house, her longstanding integrity, her kindness, her humor, her insight have been amazing. We have such a great team here.”

Piel attributes her determination to see a project through to her mother, who, at 88, is battling Stage 4 lung cancer and sticking with it.

“I’m very thankful to have them all in my circle,” she said.

Being a woman of influence, in Piel’s words, is “doing the next right thing.”

“I feel like what I’m doing with the arts district is the next right thing,” she said. “I’m seeing where the wind is taking me on this.”

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