Artist Thomas Tran
Harris County DA

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Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs Awards $90,900 to Artists and Organizations Promoting Tourism and Resilience

The City of Houston Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs (MOCA) is awarding $90,900 in grants to nine individuals and nonprofit organizations focused on promoting cultural tourism and resilience in the city.

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 opens four times a year and offers grants in the following three categories: neighborhood cultural destinations, conference tourism, and resilience awareness. In addition to these funding categories, MOCA awards a small number of special community initiatives each year.

“The City’s Initiative program allows local artists and organizations to showcase their work to our residents and visitors,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner. “I commend the award recipients for their dedication to the arts and cultural vitality of Houston.”

The following are the latest City’s Initiative grantees:

  • Da Camera Society of Texas:  DACAMERA hosts Houston SUMMERJAZZ, a two-day event activating the downtown Theater District featuring national jazz artists Jazzmeia Horn, Grammy-nominated, Texas-born vocalist; Pedrito Martinez, Latin Grammy-nominated Cuban-born percussionist, and bandleader; and Joshua Redman, Grammy-nominated saxophonist. Representing local jazz talent is the up-and-coming Jalen Baker Trio, the first resident jazz group of DACAMERA’s Young Artist Program, and José-Miguel Yamal, Houston-based Chilean-American jazz pianist. The festival is a mix of concerts and jazz events. (This grant was awarded under the Neighborhood Cultural Destinations category.)
  • Diaz Music Institute: Diaz Music Institute presents programs at various venues throughout the city to provide community engagement for the arts and to develop audiences in areas that are under-represented and underserved in the arts. This grant provided support to expand public concerts in neighborhoods across the city. (This grant was awarded directly by the Mayor of Houston as a special community initiative.)
  • Houston Latino Film Festival: Houston Latino Film Festival’s Dia De Los Muertos will be an all-day event at the Midtown Arts & Theater Center Houston (MATCH) which will host short and feature film screenings centering Dia De Los Muertos from local and international filmmakers. Other programming includes an art market inside of the MATCH Gallery from local artists and vendors to promote their artwork alongside the Dia De Los Muertos theme as well as panels, Q&As, and workshops. (This grant was awarded under the Conference Tourism category.)
  • Jesus Medel: Medel wishes to provide four, living-history bus tours focused on the cultural collaboratives of Chicano-Native Americans, by highlighting their art spaces (murals, community centers, art incubators, etc.), especially those that had humble beginnings in the 60s and 70s in Houston. Medel’s goal is to engage cultural tourists and residents in the experience of Houston’s cultural identity. (This grant was awarded under the Neighborhood Cultural Destinations category.)
  • Thomas Tran: Tran will create a cultural Vietnamese mural (or triptych) to be unveiled at NRG Park during Viet Cultural Fest 2022. The ideas and concepts will explore what it means to be Vietnamese American today through extensive conversation and interviews with the local community in Houston. (This grant was awarded under the Conference Tourism category.)
  • My Connect Community: Building on the very successful Gulfton Story Trail of larger than life murals, their project will employ artists to create a series of murals on the METRO retaining walls that will enhance the newly created bus stops and bike lanes, provide visual safety reminders, and also artistically represent the diversity of the Gulfton neighborhood. My Connect Community hopes a series of vibrant PSAs along Hillcroft will create attention and give drivers pause as they contemplate the many users of the road. (This grant was awarded under the Neighborhood Cultural Destinations category.)
  • South Asian Folk Arts Council: “Kabir in Qawwali – Concert and Discourse” is a concert and community dialogue series aimed to honor the Desi community (also known as South Asian Americans). Kabir Das, a 15th century poet, is beloved by many, especially the Hindu, Sikh and Muslim communities. Riyaaz Qawwali, comprising of local South Asian musicians, were commissioned for a short pilot of this program by the Society of Performing Arts in 2021. This will be a full 90 minute show, followed by a community discourse. (This grant was awarded under the Neighborhood Cultural Destinations category.)
  • The STEM Foundation: “STEAMtheBlock” in Sunnyside event will be held on 1.5 acres of land owned by STEM directly across from the 240-acre landfill where STEM is constructing a 50MW solar farm. Their goal is to bring awareness about the developments coming to the community and to engage visitors in the educational, workforce and economic development aspects of STEM’s work. Their vision is to bring the community together to embrace the future with a shipping container mural showcase and musical performances. (This grant was awarded under the Neighborhood Cultural Destinations category.)
  • Young Audiences INC of Houston: Healing Through Community Art is a social and emotional learning program that combines the uses of sand tray therapy and Chinese watercolor painting to teach youth creative expression, collaborative planning, and cultural awareness. During this program, participants will use therapeutic sand art as the planning and design process to inform a collaborative community mural that will be created using Chinese watercolor painting. This program will take place in the Fall of 2022 at the Chinese Community Center located in Alief Houston with local YAH Teaching Artist Dr. Junrui Garcia. (This grant was awarded under the Neighborhood Cultural Destinations category.)

For more information on past grantees, click here. To see upcoming events from previous or the latest 2022 grantees, visit the frequently updated Cultural Events Calendar.

Artists and creatives interested in applying to City’s Initiative to support their arts and cultural work should apply to the 2022 Grant Cycle launching on August 2nd. For more information, please visit: https://www.houstonartsalliance.com/funding-and-services/grant-opportunities.

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