Houston’s Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs Awards $176K in Grants to Artists and Arts Organizations

by Jessica Fuentes August 21, 2023

The City of Houston’s Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs (MOCA) has recently announced $114,000 in grants to 11 projects promoting tourism and resilience, as well as $62,500 in grants to 25 projects that will amplify creativity in the city.

A photograph of an installation of textile works hanging on a clotheslines in a gallery.

Work by Dana Caldera, a Let Creativity Happen! grantee

Each year MOCA awards grants to artists and arts organizations through the City’s Initiative (CI) and Let Creativity Happen! (LCH) grant programs. CI grants range between $5,000 and $10,000, while LCH grants can be up to $2,500. Both grant programs are administered by the Houston Arts Alliance (HAA) and partially funded through the city’s Hotel Occupancy Tax. 

According to the MOCA website, CI grants are awarded to projects that support tourism and the cultural identity of the city. LCH grants are awarded to artists and organizations that use innovative practices to “redefine artistic boundaries, reshape the conversation about art and art experiences, and/or establish unique opportunities to experience art.”

In a press release announcing the LCH awardees, Mayor Sylvester Turner stated, “Houston artists and their projects have once again shown why this city is an arts mecca. I congratulate them on their awards and wish them well in creating their works for Houstonians and the public to see and experience.”

Among the awardees are visual, performing, and literary arts projects. Learn more about select visual arts grantees below, via descriptions provided by MOCA. See the full list of projects here and here. The third round of the Let Creativity Happen! and City’s Initiative Grants opens September 1, 2023. 

City’s Initiative Grantees Include: 

Jennifer Lugo
Painting with sustainability in mind. Art of Color Mural Fest is an environmentally sustainable mural festival using innovative CO2 absorbing paint taking place October 21, 2023, in the Heights. With donations of the venue and wall space provided by Eureka Heights Brew Co. and paint from The People’s CO2 company, they’re driven by climate change, arts, philanthropy, and inspiring community engagement with creative work by local, diverse muralists of varying ethnicities.” This grant was awarded under the Neighborhood Cultural Destinations category.

Koffee With Keith
Koffee With Keith is hosting a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)-focused photo walk in Houston’s 3rd Ward this August 2023 called Uniting Houston Through Art, Coffee, Equity, & Inclusion. The event will include a photo walk and diversity, equity, and inclusion discussion through Houston’s 3rd Ward culminating at a gallery which will highlight local artists, offer free coffee, and host a DJ. They hope to bring together a diverse group of people to explore the neighborhood, capture meaningful images, & foster a sense of community & understanding. This grant was awarded under the Neighborhood Cultural Destinations category.

Henry G. Sanchez
TODOS is a bilingual, video-art project showing visual and performing artists of Latinx origin, explaining their roles as artists in society and how their emotional and internal feelings help them become more fulfilled citizens. Five scenes are segued with a philosophical dialog between the film’s narrator and a puppet as they debate about expansive human and civil rights that include internal feelings. TODOS was filmed within the facilities of the Holocaust Museum Houston and will host the screening. This grant was awarded under the Neighborhood Cultural Destinations category.

Let Creativity Happen! Grantees Include: 

Jean Shon: Within
My project is an interdisciplinary installation and conversation with the local community focusing on the history, preservation, loss, repair, and engagement of The Settlement District in Texas City. The installation will be on view at Sabine Street Gallery at Sawyer Yards from November 16, 2023 – January 6, 2024. There will be an opening reception on November 16, 2023, from 5 – 8 p.m., with an artist talk at 7 p.m.

COMPASSIONATE HOUSTON INC: Compassion Through the Arts
Compassionate Houston’s Compassion Through the Arts Initiative will host an event celebrating 10 Houston-based artists from diverse backgrounds whose work exemplifies a high level of artistic expression of compassion. The event location is at Alta Arts on Saturday, November 11, 2023, aligning with World Kindness Day (November 13th, 2023). The artists will be available to directly engage with event attendees to reflect on how compassion informs their art and to offer visual arts exhibitions, musical performances, and poetry readings. This event will be a paid, ticketed event that is open to the public.

Cressandra Thibodeaux: Double Take – Portraits of My Mother
Double Take – Portraits of My Mother is a digital photographic exhibition with live activations (talkbacks with the Artist). The portraits explore the notions of aging and coming to terms with my mom’s mortality.

C G JUNG EDUCATIONAL CENTER OF HOUSTON TEXAS: Digital Programming for Arts-Based Mental Health Support
The Jung Center offers a wide range of interactive arts programming to the public in three semesters throughout the year. Programs are led by a variety of instructors using the arts to support the mental health of our community.

PXRTY ENTERTAINMENT: Chakras Interactive Museum
Chakras Interactive Museum is a unique artist showcase honoring energy, spirituality, and creativity. The interactive museum will feature a fashion show, live artists (including painters, jewelers, designers, dancers, potters and more) and a non-stop immersive, creative experience. We will host this at Sanman Studios on November 11, 2023, from 2 p.m. – 10 p.m. to celebrate black art, life, and creativity. We will incorporate live music performances, local vendors, and free admission for all to enjoy.

Stevens Orozco: Archivist Log
Archivist Log is a growing collection of filmed conversations (55 minutes or less) with a diverse range of community members. This collection includes artists, scholars, writers, critics, business owners, and more. This project is curated, filmed, and edited with an artistic intention for a visually pleasing experience.

Danny Asberry El: Earthstars Children of Paradise Comic Book
Introducing the Earthstars: Children of Paradise project — an innovative approach to comic book storytelling that promotes emerging local artists and explores complex themes, challenging traditional tropes and expanding the medium’s potential. By fostering cultural exchange and dialogue among artists, collectors, and the broader community, the project strengthens Houston’s creative ecosystem and reflects the city’s unique identity and culture. Join us on a journey of inclusivity and shared ownership of Houston’s creative legacy, positioning the city as a cutting-edge arts and culture destination.

Dana Caldera: Material World
Material World is a site-specific installation that will be on view in Box13 ArtSpace’s Window Box Gallery in November 2023. The artwork on view is made from discarded paper and textiles that are donated and sourced from the local Houston community. Since the Window Box Gallery remains on view 24 hours a day, it acts as a public art space, allowing protected yet accessible viewing for this delicate collage artwork.

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