Longtime leader of Houston’s beloved holiday experience stepping down

The beloved chief of Houston’s unofficial start to the holiday season is closing up shop after more than three decades. Patsy Chapman, CEO of the Houston Ballet Nutcracker Market, announced her retirement on Thursday, August 11, marking the end of a 34-year tenure. Chapman will officially depart at this November’s event.

Under her direction, the ballet’s Nutcracker Market — known by locals and savvy shoppers simply as “Market,” has generated more than $80 million for the ballet and has seen more than 2.3 million shoppers, according to a press release.

Chapman has overseen the spectacle of the retail therapy extravaganza, which greets energized buyers with the trademark, Christmas-red carpet, ruby-hued carpet, twinkling lights, and larger-than-life Nutcrackers. She is credited with transforming the event with exponential growth. When she took the lead in 1989, the Market’s  net revenue was approximately $289,000.

Fast forward to 2019, the Market’s 39th year, where  more than 100,000 shoppers filled NRG Center, spent over $22.3 million, yielding a net contribution to Houston Ballet of more than $5.4 million, per the ballet.

A noted innovator, Chapman spearheaded the Market’s see-and-be-seen Wells Fargo Preview Party and the Macy’s and Saks Fifth Avenue fashion shows and luncheons. Houston holiday shoppers will forever be grateful to Chapman, who, in 2019, launched the long-discussed idea for Nutcracker Market SPRING — a vibrant, sunny iteration of the holiday version.

Both Market events help fund the ballet’s education and community outreach programs, as well as classes at the acclaimed Center for Dance.

“When I look at all that Patsy has managed to accomplish with the Market, it is fair to say that I am in awe,” said James Nelson, executive director of Houston Ballet, in a statement. “Patsy seized every opportunity to make the Market an exceptional experience for shoppers and merchants alike, all to the immense benefit of Houston Ballet and the local arts community. She approached each November with an incredible sense of excitement, energy, and effort. Her contribution to Houston Ballet is almost beyond measure and we are deeply grateful to her and proud of what she has accomplished.”

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