Cultural Affairs Office

Press and Communications

Mayor Turner Designates Arts Funding to Support Artists
Thirteen Service Organizations Join Forces on Relief Fund

April 14, 2020 -- In response to the economic crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Mayor's Office of Cultural Affairs is adding $25,000 of restricted arts funding to programs to support artists and others affected by the public health crisis.

Grants from the Greater Houston Area Arts Relief Fund will help artists and arts workers who lost wages and opportunities as a result of COVID-19.

The Fund is housed at the Houston Arts Alliance (HAA), a 501(c)(3) public charity, and local arts agency under contract with the Mayor's Office of Cultural Affairs (MOCA). Tax-deductible contributions to the Relief Fund can be made by going to

"Artists  and the cultural community are deeply woven into the fabric of Houston—they give our city its soul," said Mayor Sylvester Turner. "They were among the first to cancel events and gatherings to help protect residents from COVID-19, and many have stepped forward in response to the crisis with virtual programs to promote critical social distancing and by making protective masks."

Artists often function as self-employed workers doing commissioned projects, freelance gigs and contract work for individual patrons, art and cultural nonprofits and for-profit businesses. Like other self-employed workers and small businesses, they are a particularly vulnerable group during times of crisis.

"Artists and arts workers are uniquely able to help Houston by providing entertainment, respite, and a kind of therapy," said Debbie McNulty, Mayor's Office of Cultural Affairs director. "The city needs  their creativity now more than ever, and they need our help. HAA's new disaster resilience program gives us a much-needed way to organize local fundraising and leverage our existing grant making system for this part of our response."

To ensure the greatest impact for the Greater Houston Area arts community, the following organizations are partnering together on the Fund:

City of Houston's Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs ♦ Dance Source Houston ♦ East End Cultural District ♦ 5th Ward Cultural Arts District ♦ Fresh Arts/Arts District Houston ♦ Galveston Historical Foundation ♦ Houston Arts Alliance ♦ Houston First Corporation ♦ Houston Museum District ♦ Mid-America Arts Alliance's Engage Houston ♦ Midtown Cultural District ♦ Theater District Houston ♦ University of Houston, the Kathrine G. McGovern College of the Arts

This is the first of several opportunities that will be announced over the coming weeks to accelerate art projects in response to the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 emergency.  MOCA recently invited artists to submit qualifications to be considered for commissions for the new Alief Community Center and in an earlier message, MOCA urged the creative sector to take immediate steps to secure federal aid.

Residents and families can find more information about COVID-19 related resources and financial assistance at

MOCA grants are funded through a portion of the Hotel Occupancy Tax that is dedicated to the arts. For more information about the Mayor’s Office of Cultural affairs go to or follow the Mayor’s office of Cultural Affairs on Facebook & Instagram @HoustonMOCA.