Cultural Affairs Office

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Houston Awarded $1 Million Grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies for Public Art Challenge

Discovery Green Aerial View

(photo credit Brandon Huttenlocher - Design Workshop, Inc.)

October 19, 2023 -- Houston has been selected as one of the eight winning cities to receive a $1 million grant as part of the prestigious Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge.

This unique grant program supports temporary public art projects that address important civic issues in cities across the country. Houston's winning project, titled “HueMan: Shelter” has been designed to intentionally disrupt perceptions of homelessness, to support art-making through collaborations between artists and unsheltered individuals, and will result in the activation of eight sites for multimedia public artworks presented along a main pedestrian corridor in Midtown, Houston.

Out of more than 150 project proposals submitted by cities in 40 U.S. states, Houston's project stood out due to its focus on fostering creative collaboration, addressing a critical issue to cities across the nation, and supporting the local economy through art-making. Local artists will be selected via an open call to work with unsheltered Houstonians whose life experiences will influence this visual storytelling project.

"Houston has emerged as a pioneer city in implementing thoughtful strategies to address homelessness. This generous grant enables us to further prioritize the needs of unsheltered individuals, while also reminding the public about our interconnectedness and the importance of meeting everyone's basic needs through creative efforts. We all deserve to be seen, heard, and validated,” said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner.

HueMan: Shelter leverages the City’s history of focused work addressing homelessness. The Mayor's Office for Homeless Initiatives (MOHI) in Houston plays a key role in coordinating the city's response to homelessness. Working alongside various city agencies, such as the Housing and Community Development Department and the Health and Human Services Department, the MOHI develops best practice-oriented policies and collaborates with regional and national entities. The office works closely with the Coalition for the Homeless and over 100 public and private agencies to implement a data-driven approach known as The Way Home. Through the Housing First model, the initiative has successfully housed over 30,000 individuals and families since 2012, making it one of the most successful homeless response initiatives in the country.

HueMan: Shelter is a collaborative concept steered by the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs and the Midtown Houston Cultural Arts and Entertainment District in partnership with the Coalition for the Homeless of Houston, the Career and Recovery Resources, Inc. and METRO Houston.

The $1 million Public Art Challenge grant will cover expenses related to the project's development, artist budgets, installation execution, and documentation. Each of the nine installations will be completed within the next two years with support from Bloomberg Philanthropies. In alignment with Bloomberg’s philosophy on the power of public art, the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs believes that public art plays a vital role in improving quality of life, celebrating creativity, and driving economic development. In the last round of the Public Art Challenge in 2018, awarded to five cities, it generated over $100 million in economic benefits for local economies. Cities witnessed increased local investment, capital projects, new partnerships, improved community well-being, and the creation of inclusive spaces to address complex social issues such as climate change, neighborhood vacancy, and healing in the aftermath of gun violence.

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 and on Twitter @Houston_moca.