Cultural Affairs Office

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The City of Houston Awards Over $100,000 to Projects Promoting Tourism and Resilience

December 28, 2023 -- The City of Houston Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs (MOCA) is awarding $132,500 in grants to 14 individuals and nonprofit organizations whose work furthers cultural tourism and resilience throughout the city of Houston. The funds were awarded through City’s Initiative, a competitive grant program that is administered by the Houston Arts Alliance (HAA) and funded by a portion of the city’s Hotel Occupancy Tax. The program opened 3 times in 2023 and offers grants in three categories: neighborhood cultural destinations, conference tourism, and disaster resilience awareness. In addition to these funding categories, MOCA awards a small number of special community initiatives each year.

“Creating a grant program that aligned with our work in resilience, neighborhood enhancement, and showcasing local creatives in our conference spaces has expanded where and how we think about art investments,” stated Mayor Sylvester Turner.  “Congratulations to each of the 2023 City Initiative grantees.”

The third round of the 2023 City’s Initiative grantees are:

Awardee: Aime Rosales Figueredo
City’s Initiative Funding Area: Art + Neighborhood Cultural Destinations
Project Title: Fiebre
Project Summary: “Fiebre”, is an art exhibition featuring approximately 15 artworks by Cuban artists,that will include paintings, drawings, and photographs. These artworks draw inspiration from the music and persona of Puerto Rican singer Calma Carmona who will perform at the opening. The exhibition seeks to establish a captivating dialogue between music and visual arts. 'Fiebre' will open at the MATCH gallery on March 20 at 5:00 pm and run until March 31, open daily from 10:00am to 10:00pm. Throughout its duration, we will host interactive sessions to engage the audience further, fostering a dynamic cultural exchange.

Awardee: Alley Theatre
City’s Initiative Funding Area: Art + Neighborhood Cultural Destinations
Project Title: Redline Resonance
Project Summary: In May 2024, Alley Theatre is collaborating with Kindred Stories and the Rutherford B. H. Yates House of the Freedmen’s Town Museums to host a staged reading of "Radio Golf" by August Wilson. This initiative aims to explore the historical significance of Freedmen's Town and foster meaningful dialogues by delving into the themes of progress, heritage, economic development, cultural identity, and the impact of gentrification in the African American community. Through post-reading discussions and even a potential golf tournament, the project seeks to facilitate understanding, ignite discourse, and encourage critical introspection among participants.

City’s Initiative – Colectiva Feminista Colibri

City’s Initiative – Colectiva Feminista Colibri

Awardee: Colectiva Feminista Colibri
City’s Initiative Funding Area: Art + Neighborhood Cultural Destinations
Project Title: El Corazón del Incauto: Unmasking Love in 1920s Argentina
Project Summary: Join us on March 29th, 2024, at the heart of Houston's LGBTQ+ neighborhood, Montrose, for the premiere of 'El Corazón del Incauto,' a captivating one-hour-ten-minute melodrama set in 1920s Argentina which delves into enduring intolerance through the complex relationships of three characters, María, Honorio, and Justo. With a talented team of 12 collaborators, including actors, a producer, and a translator, we're prepared to take audiences on a powerful journey that unveils hidden desires and prejudices about self-acceptance, tolerance, and love, all while commemorating the International Day for Theatre on March 31st.

Awardee: Community Artists Collective
City’s Initiative Funding Area: Art + Conference Tourism
Project Title: The Collective - A Night for the Arts + Community Impact Event
Project Summary: The Collective presents “FestEve! A Night for the Arts; Collective Impact Event 2024”, a twelve-month collaborative artistic and educational project showcasing a multidisciplinary smorgasbord of arts and cultural programming highlighting the diaspora of multidisciplinary arts infused with visual art impact. As part of our vision, we serve as a bastion for cross-cultural appreciation, artistic empowerment, and accessibility to the arts by fostering racial and ideological inclusivity among Houston’s local art community. This program offers a year of entertainment represented in visual arts, dance, music, and theatre, engaging our arts and culture partners, showcasing artistic impression attracting visitors near and far.

Awardee: David Dietz
City’s Initiative Funding Area: Art + Conference Tourism
Project Title: Houston Music Festival: Opus on the Rocks
Project Summary: Houston Music Festival seeks to establish Houston as a thriving artistic hub by providing a platform for the city's emerging classical music talent. Our mission is to present classical music as a dynamic art form that is inclusive, accessible and relevant, to a broad range of audiences. Our 3 day festival presents 3 interactive and immersive concerts in unique and unexpected venues (bars and galleries), combining storytelling with traditional and new chamber music that reflects and celebrates Houston.

Awardee: Hispanic Alliance for Performing and Audiovisual Arts
City’s Initiative Funding Area: Art + Neighborhood Cultural Destinations
Project Title: La Caja de Pandora
Project Summary: To celebrate International Women's Day, we will offer 5 performances of “La Caja de Pandora” from March 8 to 10 at 5301.18a Art & Culture Lab Gallery. This Spanish play sends the audience a strong message about domestic violence, equality gender, and violence through control. The work delves into the precipitating factors of violence to its roots. It tells the story of Carlos, a husband who tries to regain control over his family as he explores the meaning of control.

City’s Initiative – Islamic Arts Society

City’s Initiative – Islamic Arts Society

Awardee: Islamic Arts Society
City’s Initiative Funding Area: Art + Conference Tourism
Project Title: Finding Islamic Art in the Bayou City.
Project Summary: This project will prepare a short documentary featuring Islamic art in Bayou City. Houston is the most culturally diverse city in the United States but little is known about its hidden gems of Islamic art. The film, prepared by Houston-based artists will be aired during the 11th annual Islamic Arts Festival in December 202 which is the largest festival of Islamic arts in America. The festival is free and serves as an interfaith melting pot. Focusing on Islamic art hotspots in Houston will add to the cultural identity of Houston and promote our city as a tourist destination for people interested in arts and culture.

Awardee: Russian Cultural Center-Our Texas
City’s Initiative Funding Area: Art + Resilience Awareness
Project Title: Photo Exhibition Resilience in Exile: The Ukrainian Refugee Experience
Project Summary: Houston knows about disasters and resilience firsthand, but this city also became a place where people found their second homes while running from disasters like man-made full-scale wars. RCC “Our Texas” will stage a photographic exhibition of Ukrainian refugees displaced by the tragic war and its effects. Many parts of Ukraine are no longer safe to live in, so people have to find a new place for themselves and their families. Our hope is that the images not only show the effects of the war but also how Houston is affected by this change.

Awardee: Sheaman Austin
City’s Initiative Funding Area: Art + Neighborhood Cultural Destinations
Project Title: Immersion-Exhibition of Generations
Project Summary: "Immersion" is a year-long cultural celebration centered on Houston's Deluxe Theater in the 5th Ward. Our initiative spotlights this culturally significant landmark, and engages residents and visitors in the neighborhood's vibrant arts scene. Collaborative performances, panel discussions, and mentorship opportunities will showcase the neighborhood's rich cultural diversity. These events, held at the Deluxe Theater and nearby venues, will be used to foster cross-generational dialogue, highlight the neighborhood's multicultural identity, and activate 5th Ward as a tourist destination in the coming years.

Awardee: Society for Africans in the Diaspora
City’s Initiative Funding Area: Art + Neighborhood Cultural Destinations
Project Title: ART + AFRICA (Visual Art Exhibition and Artist Talk)
Project Summary: “Art + Africa” is an opportunity for Houston based artists to generate and exhibit work of art that reflects the cultural identity and artistic richness of the African Diaspora. This free, educational exhibition will feature four artists at SAID INSTITUTE in February 2024. The Visual Art Exhibition aims to foster emerging, mid-career and known artists, with the intention of amplifying artistic development opportunities. The visual art exhibition will engage and educate the community on the art and inspiration of African contemporary arts.

Awardee: South Asian Folk Arts Council
City’s Initiative Funding Area: Art + Neighborhood Cultural Destinations
Project Title: Riyaaz Qawwali with Ishrat Jafri
Project Summary: Centered in Hilcroft, which is home to many South Asian businesses, Riyaaz Qawwali musicians and Poet Ishrat Jafri unite, pushing the boundaries of qawwali music to embrace female poetry. South Asian Folk Arts Council (SAFAC) will host a public specially commissioned concert and community dialogue celebrating these acclaimed Houston-based artists. Riyaaz Qawwali will be commissioned for 5 new full-length qawwali songs (~ 12 minutes each) for the event. SAFAC, in collaboration with artists and the community, will harness the arts to foster innovation within this traditional form, challenging longstanding norms that have marginalized female poetry in qawwali music.

Awardee: Southwest Alternate Media Project (SWAMP)
City’s Initiative Funding Area: Art + Neighborhood Cultural Destinations
Project Title: Emerge! A festival showcasing Houston's emerging artists
Project Summary: “Emerge!”, presented by Southwest Alternate Media Project and Houston Cinema Arts Society on the campus at The Orange Show is designed to be an intersection of film, music, visual and performing arts to showcase emerging artists in Houston.

Awardee: Virtual Arts for Humanity
City’s Initiative Funding Area: Art + Resilience Awareness
Project Title: Food for Thought: Eastern Storytelling Meets Western Musical Theatre
Project Summary: From 3-7pm on June 23, 2024, Virtual Arts for Humanity (VAH) will host an interdisciplinary performing arts showcase followed by a post-performance attendee panel. Our programming will uplift and inspire emerging performers, aspiring arts educators, and foster diverse community unity, while calling attention to our mission to fight food insecurity through the performing arts. Performers from across Houston and across the nation, audience members, and local leaders will come together at MATCH, located in the heart of Houston, to celebrate the artistry and creativity that brings hope to humanity.

Awardee: Megan Berti
City’s Initiative Funding Area: Art + Neighborhood Cultural Destinations
Project Title: Hopera
Project Summary: This is a production of 2 semi-staged performances of a 90-minute, English-language opera using exclusively Houston professionals (4 singers and 1 pianist) in unconventional, craft beer and cocktail venues in March 2024.  This project will support local artists still recovering from the financial deficit left by the COVID-19 pandemic, and engage the community by bringing live performances to small, local, craft businesses within the Houston city limits.

For more information on past grantees, click here. To stay up to date with grantees and news related to grants sign up for the Houston Arts Alliance Newsletter here.

City’s Initiative – Megan Berti

City’s Initiative – Megan Berti