Smith, director of Houston's Hobby Center, named Clayton Center GM

Smith, director of Houston's Hobby Center, named Clayton Center GM

April 30, 2013
Contact: Karen Eldridge, Director of Communications

Blake Smith, director of operations for the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts in Houston, Tex., has been named the new general manager of the Clayton Center for the Arts located on the Maryville College campus.

Smith will begin his new job on June 1. He replaces Robert Hutchens, executive director of the Clayton Center, who announced in January that he would retire May 31.

“We are excited to welcome Blake to the Clayton Center,” said Dr. William T. “Tom” Bogart, Maryville College president. “We believe he will build on the excellent work of Robert Hutchens, who opened the Center in 2010 and helped establish it as a hub for the celebration of the arts in various forms and expressions.”

As general manager, Smith will be responsible for the business development of the Clayton Center, as well as oversight of all operational aspects of the facility and the College’s Corporate Sales and Events Office.

Smith began his employment with the Hobby Center in 2006, when he was hired as facility technical director. Promoted to director of operations in 2010, he has experience in overseeing the center’s two proscenium theatres (seating 2,650 and 500), supervising operational and technical staff, preparing operating budgets and forecasting major maintenance and capital expenditures. In his current job, he also verifies contract and legal compliance with various service, equipment and staffing providers, as well as municipal entities.

The Hobby Center, which opened in 2002, is managed and operated by the Hobby Center Foundation. The $100 million complex was built entirely from private funds donated by the community of Houston and operates independently of any municipal operating subsidy.

From 1995 until 2006, Smith was the director of concerts and conventions for Larry H. Miller Sports and Entertainment Group, operating out of the Delta Center Arena (now EnergySolutions Arena) in Salt Lake City, Utah.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in technical theatre from Arizona State University.

Bogart said the new general manager is familiar with East Tennessee, having vacationed in the area and having purchased a “second home” in Townsend recently.

“Blake’s strong technical background, skill in building relationships and vision for the future impressed everyone he met,” the president said. “The combination of fine and performing arts experience and facilities management is rare and a great fit for the opportunities ahead for the Clayton Center and Maryville College.

“His familiarity with and passion for East Tennessee are additional benefits that should help him quickly settle here and enjoy a long and successful tenure,” he added.

Maryville College is ideally situated in Maryville, Tenn., between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Knoxville, the state's third largest city. Founded in 1819, it is the 12th oldest institution of higher learning in the South and maintains an affiliation with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Known for offering its students a rigorous and highly personal experience that includes an undergraduate research requirement, Maryville College is a nationally ranked institution of higher learning that successfully joins the liberal arts and professional preparation. Total enrollment for the fall 2016 semester is 1,197.