Houston’s Cultural Districts to Host Mayoral Candidates Forum on Arts & Culture

by Jessica Fuentes June 7, 2023

As Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner’s second term comes to a close, the city’s seven cultural districts, with support from the Houston Endowment, will host a forum for the mayoral candidates to discuss the role of arts and culture in the city’s future.

A photograph of Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner holding an award.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner was awarded the 2022 Local Arts Leadership Award from Americans for the Arts.

Throughout his time in office, Mayor Turner has demonstrated strong support of the arts. In 2022, he was one of two mayors to receive the Local Arts Leadership Award from the Americans for the Arts, a national organization supporting arts organizations and individuals who cultivate the arts in the U.S. Some of his notable accomplishments include his Complete Communities initiative, which addresses some of the most underserved communities in the city through creative partnerships, grants, and artists commissions; the released Equity Review of Houston’s Civic Art Collection, which determined that the collection overrepresented white and male artists and led to efforts to create equitable collecting practices; and his allocation of funds for civic art opportunities, the creation of a Virtual Indigenous Cultural Center, and the city’s commitment to helping artists through the Greater Houston Area Arts Relief Fund. He also pledged $250,000 from the City to help artists after a fire left many studios damaged or destroyed earlier this year at Winter Street Studios. 

In a press release, Hillary J. Hart, Executive Director at Theatre Under the Stars and Chair of Theater District Houston, said, “I am proud that, once again, the seven cultural districts have come together to provide an opportunity for the voices of artists and arts organizations to be recognized for their incredible contributions to Houston. As critical economic drivers and significant contributors to the development of our communities, arts and culture must be part of the conversation regarding Houston’s future.”

Harrison Guy, Director of Arts & Culture for the 5th Ward Cultural Arts District, added, “The arts sector is still recovering from significant events such as the pandemic. As we gear up for an essential election in our city, it’s crucial to create a space for a much-needed conversation that not only focuses on the arts but also acknowledges that artists are small business owners. We must also recognize that arts organizations are a driving force behind what makes our city thrive.”

The forum is scheduled for Monday, June 12 at 6:30 p.m. and will take place at Zilkha Hall in the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts. A public reception will precede the event, starting at 5:30 p.m. Linda Lorelle, an Emmy Award-winning broadcast journalist, who anchored the evening news for over 15 years at Houston’s NBC affiliate KPRC-TV, and is also ballroom dancer, will moderate the forum. Each candidate will present an opening statement, and then will respond to questions from the moderator and the audience. The forum will end with closing statements by each candidate.

Learn more, submit questions for the candidates, and RSVP for the event at the Houston Mayoral Arts Forum website.

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