Cultural Affairs Office

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Mayor's Office of Cultural Affairs Awards $69,800 to Projects Promoting Neighborhood Cultural Destinations and Resilience Awareness

April 28, 2021 -- The Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs (MOCA) announces the first grants through the newly designed City’s Initiative (CI) grant program. The seven inaugural awards will support cultural activations in neighborhoods and strengthen community resilience.

The redesigned program focuses on three crucial areas for cultural tourism and sustainability as the city begins to open up from the COVID-19 pandemic:  Neighborhood Cultural Destinations, Conference Tourism and Resilience Awareness.

“These projects will appeal to residents and visitors. Houstonians can explore their neighborhoods and city with a fresh lens, as if they were tourists within their own city,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner. “I am, additionally, happy to support our creatives that highlight our vibrant neighborhoods and support the Resilient Houston Executive Order that I signed in February of 2020.”

Neighborhood Cultural Destinations
Highlights and presents cultural heritage in a particular Houston neighborhood. Project should incorporate community voices, knowledge, and interest. Projects in this category will connect tourists to places and people that make Houston a unique destination.

Conference Tourism
Clearly defined partnership with a significant conference that produces an activity featuring Houston artists or arts and culture attractions in Houston. Projects in this category will connect tourists with the city’s creators.

Resilience Awareness
Resilient Houston is the City of Houston’s framework for collective action and links existing efforts with new ones that will work together to protect Houston against future disasters – be they natural, man-made or a global pandemic. Projects in this category will leverage arts and culture to creatively engage tourists and Houstonians in risk awareness, including mitigation and adaptation strategies.

A total of $69,800 will support seven projects from three organizations and four individuals. The CI grant program was adjudicated through a peer and community-based review process administered by the Houston Arts Alliance (HAA). MOCA congratulates all award recipients as they embark on their projects and thanks them for their dedication to the arts and cultural vitality of Houston.

The CI grant program is funded by the City of Houston Hotel Occupancy Tax dedicated to the arts.

To find and share all Houston digital events and cultural programming, visit the Cultural Events Calendar.

The next deadline for CI grant applications is 4:30 PM, April 30, 2021.

The following projects are receiving support:

Drag Fest Houston by Rivkah French
Join Rivkah French and Drag Fest Houston for a look at the culture and community of drag, in front of and behind the curtain, with workshops, live-streamed performances from iconic Houston venues, and a panel discussion discussing topics relevant to LGBTQ+ drag culture!

Year-Round Programming by Houston Cinema Arts Society (HCAS)
By partnering with Houston organizations such as DeLUXE Theatre and Houston Latino Film Festival, HCAS will amplify Houston’s underrepresented communities and cultures by highlighting cultural landmarks in each neighborhood. Check out their event calendar here!

“Labor Pains” by Sarah Sudhoff
Experience a new series of artwork by Sarah Sudhoff (@sarahsudhoff on Instagram), which includes kinetic sculptures, live performance, and installations that explore the effects of the pandemic on motherhood. This work will explore how the community can better support the role of the mother and make the invisible labor of motherhood “visible.”

“Singing Together: Qawwali and Gospel” by Indo-American Association
Join the Indo-American Association (link expired) for a performance between two communities that reflect the diversity of Houston. The South Asian community and Black community in Houston will share a stage for Qawwali and Gospel music, followed by community dialogues between these two communities.

Houston Asiatown Virtual Tours by Asia Society Texas Center
Asia Society Texas Center will take visitors and Houstonians through a virtual tour of Houston’s neighborhoods while highlighting the history of Houston’s Asian American Pacific Islander communities!

“Tether” by The Pilot Dance Project
Join The Pilot Dance Project (non-dancers included) at the Yale Market, a repurposed plant nursery in the Heights, from April 23-25 to experience the rehearsal process and performance of “Tether!” “Tether” is an original evening-length, outdoor dance work choreographed by Houston-based artist Ashley Horn.

“Eastex Jensen Happening” by Juan Pablo Fuentes Rojas
What do you envision Eastex Jensen’s future to be? This project will use Jensen Drive as a blank canvas where at four different sites, student artwork will be projected virtually and feature recordings of “neighborhood voices.”

About the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs
The City of Houston Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs guides the City’s cultural investments with policies and initiatives that expand access to arts and cultural programs in the community, attract visitors and leverage private investment. Learn more at and follow us on Facebook & Instagram @HoustonMOCA.

About the Houston Arts Alliance
Houston Arts Alliance (HAA) is a local arts and culture organization whose principal work is to implement the City of Houston’s vision, values, and goals for its arts grantmaking and civic art investments. HAA’s work is conducted through contracts with the City of Houston, overseen by the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs. HAA also executes privately funded special projects to meet the needs of the arts community, such as disaster preparation, research on the state of the arts in Houston, and temporary public art projects that energize neighborhoods.