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Vance, Nina, 1914-1980 | University of Houston Libraries

Name: Vance, Nina, 1914-1980

Historical Note:

Born in 1914, Nina Vance attended Texas Christian University, Columbia University and the American Academy of Dramatic Arts before coming to Houston as a high school teacher. In 1947, she began a campaign for a resident local theater. The Alley is now one of the nation's leading regional repertory theatres and one of the three oldest resident theatres in the United States.

Nina Vance’s years at the Alley were professionally and personally rewarding.  In 1958, Great Britain sponsored Ms. Vance on a tour of British repertory theatres.  The Ford Foundation awarded her a director’s grant in 1959 and in 1960, President John Kennedy invited her to serve on the advisory committee of the proposed National Cultural Center, which became the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.  Secretary of State Dean Rusk appointed her to two terms on the U.S. Commission on International Education and Cultural Affairs, the only woman ever to serve.

Vance, along with seven other American directors traveled to the Russia to observe contemporary Soviet theatre in Moscow.  Additional honors include the Matrix Award of Theta Phi, the Outstanding Alumni Award of Texas Southern University and the Houston Y.W.C.A. Woman of the Year Award.  Nina Vance died on February 18, 1980 after a long illness at the age of 66 in Houston.  During the Memorial Tribute held in her memory on March 3, 1980, the building was officially renamed: The Nina Vance Alley Theatre.

Note Author: Edward Lukasek

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