Cultural Affairs Office

Press and Communications

New Relief Program Will Help Houston's Musicians and Music Venues That Are Currently Facing Economic Challenges Due to COVID-19

Relief Program for Musicians

November 4, 2020 -- Mayor Sylvester Turner and Houston City Council announced a new relief program today for musicians and music venues that have been adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The City of Houston's Musicians and Music Venues Economic Relief Program is being funded with $3 million of the City's allocated CARES Act 2020 funds.

Musicians will be eligible for up to $5,000 in relief funding, and music venues will be eligible for up to $50,000 or $100,000, depending on budget size.

"As a city, we have provided rental assistance and supported small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, we will focus on Houston's musicians. Music venues, and iconic performance spaces are a big part of our city and an important segment of Houston's cultural life," said Mayor Sylvester Turner. "They were delivering great live music before the pandemic, and we want them to be able to do that again, as soon as they can, and by being safe."

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many Houston venues to close and events to get postponed. The Mayor's Office of Cultural Affairs (MOCA) created the program as a resource for Houston musicians and for-profit and non-profit music venues to sustain their operations during and after the pandemic.

"During a community meeting hosted by MOCA and the Texas Music Office, we heard from a diverse group of Houstonians in the music industry that one of the most pressing concerns is survival," said Debbie McNulty, Director of the Mayor's Office of Cultural Affairs. "Beyond economic relief support, MOCA is actively looking at other forms of assistance for our Houston music sector."

Applications for the program are currently being accepted and must be completed online at (link expired) by 5 p.m. on Wednesday, November 25, 2020.

To qualify, applicants:  

  • Must be a live music venue whose principal place of business is located within the City of Houston's city limits. 
  • Must be a musician whose principal residence is located within the City of Houston's city limits. 
  • Must provide evidence of how business revenue has significantly decreased because of government restrictions or other challenges due to COVID-19. 
  • Must be in good standing with City requirements (e.g., property taxes, personal property, grounds for debarment, etc.). 

Guitarist PerformingIn addition to these requirements, a weighted scoring matrix will be used to ensure the equitable distribution of grant funds. Applications will be ranked by objective scores, and funding will be applied until the program runs out of funding.

MOCA has tapped Mid-America Arts Alliance (MAAA), a non-profit 501(c)(3) regional arts organization, to administer the program. This summer, MAAA distributed nearly $600,000 of federal CARES Act funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and awarded its portion of the United States Regional Arts Resilience Fund, seeded with a $10 million grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

MAAA will host the following information sessions for applicants:

Zoom Info Webinar: Tuesday, November 10, at 10:00 a.m. for venue applications. 
Zoom Info Webinar: Tuesday, November 10, at 3:00 p.m. for artist applications.

Zoom Meeting Information

Meeting ID: 834 2787 5439
Passcode: 322197
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+1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)
Meeting ID: 834 2787 5439
Passcode: 322197

Office Hour Sign Ups: Monday through Friday, November 16 – November 20 at 12:00 p.m.

Sign up for 15-minute spots through this link:

Staff is also available by email or can set a convenient time to meet by phone or Zoom outside of office hours.

For more information, contact:

Christine Bial
Mid-America Arts Alliance
Director of Arts & Humanities Grant Programs