Photo credit: Austin Chronicle


Boyd Vance was born in Houston on July 9, 1957, in Houston’s Third Ward. He made his way to Austin to attend St. Stephen’s Episcopal High School from which he graduated in May 1975.

After attending Rice University for one year, his love for Austin brought him back where he graduated from the University of Texas in 1983 with a Bachelor of Arts in English.

Actor, director, singer, dancer, children’s theater teacher and theater company administrator, Boyd never sat still. He was not only an accomplished performer and producer of the arts, he was an arts champion who provided a creative outlet for minority actors, exposed minority audiences to significant theater, and “let white audiences in on the black experience.” (John Bustin, “He’s Keeping Busy,” Duende, June, 1988).

As a singer (in musical theater and with local bands), he could emulate many of the great vocal stylists.

He worked with numerous groups in Austin, including Tapestry Dance Company, Ballet East, Aztlan Dance Company, Huston Tillotson University, Austin’s Comedy Troupe , Esther’s Follies, Austin Community College, Dance Umbrella, Ballet Austin, WH Passon Society, Capital City Playhouse (formerly Gaslight Theater), AISD, University of Texas at Austin. He’s well-known for his work with Zachary Scott Theater, and their Project InterAct, where he produced/performed in over 40 main stage plays and musicals, including “Ain’t Misbehavin”, “A Raisin in the Sun,” “The African Company presents Richard the Third” and many others.

His first major notice was for the Master of Ceremonies in “Cabaret” for the Gaslight Theater, where “the young actor’s reputation here was assured.” (Bustin, 1988)  Since then, he went on to make a splash as Snoopy in “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” and as a player at Esther’s Follies, and then clinched his first directorship with, “To Be Young, Gifted and Black” for Huston-Tillotson College (now “University”).

Boyd founded ProArts Collective in 1993 as a vehicle to produce significant African-American works like “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” and “For Colored Girls who Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enough.” It grew into a multi-disciplinary support organization to provide services such as networking for emerging artists, administration, production assistance and a casting company of African-American performers to other troupes. ProArts Collective received local, state and federal grants and began producing full seasons of dramatic and musical theater. It went on to produce arts programs in schools and an annual African-American dance festival. From there, The African American Community Heritage Festival was born, which continues to this day.

Other festivals/events he’s produced include: A Soulful Christmas Bazaar, The African-American Festival of Dance, The Tejano Low Rider Festival, United Artists for Peace Silent Auction and Art Fiesta.

Boyd served as a peer panelist for the Texas Commission on the Arts Performing Arts Programs and as a consultant to Austin Independent School District’s Children’s arts programs.

In 1994, he went on brief hiatus from Austin to work with the National Task Force on AIDS Prevention as a Treatment Advocacy Coordinator and then Coordinator of Direct Services.

In 2001, he founded the African-American Arts Technical Resource Center which supported artists of color in central east Austin.

In 2004, the Austin Critics Table inducted Boyd into the Austin Arts Hall of Fame.  Later that same year, the Austin Circle of Theaters awarded him with the B. Iden Payne Special Recognition Award for Outstanding Achievement in Austin theater. After his death, following unexpected heart surgery in 2005, the City of Austin renamed an existing theater at the George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center in Vance’s honor “for his contribution to the Austin community.”

Boyd Vance was a passionate supporter of both arts and justice. His legacy is the exhibition and development of emerging artists in Austin. The Pecan Street Association is proud to honor their 2016 Heritage Award to him for his promotion and preservation of the arts. His brother, Clen Vance, will accept the award at an event prior to the festival.