Bianca Hooi graduated from the Yale School of Drama and moved to New York City to become a stage manager. But in 2020, after two years working as a freelancer, she fled back to San Antonio, fearful of imminent pandemic-induced confinement and industrywide closure. She sat stagnant in her parents’ home evaluating her next move and feeling anxious about job prospects amid the COVID-19 lockdown. While idle, she scanned the internet for anything related to performance art and found an opening at Texas Performing Arts (TPA).
Texas Performing Arts began its relationship with Fusebox — a nonprofit organization that hosts an arts festival every spring — early in the pandemic to create an artist-in-residency program at UT. Bob Bursey, executive and artistic director of Texas Performing Arts, helped launch the program in the 2020-21 season to aid artists.
During Hooi’s interview for the position, she expressed a desire to support the struggling artist community. Bursey echoed her desire and mentioned the soon-to-launch artist-in-residency program. Within a couple of weeks, she had moved to Austin and become assistant to the executive and artistic director at Texas Performing Arts.
“It was such a devastating time, of course, for everyone — for arts institutions and for individual artists whose performance opportunities and many of their commissions dried up,” Bursey says. “We had our staff and wanted to make an impact in our local community to help sustain artists in Austin.”