Cultural Affairs Office

Press and Communications

Mayor Parker Selects Leaders for Cultural Plan Process

July 30, 2014 -- Mayor Annise Parker has selected philanthropist Philamena Baird and Project Row House Founder Rick Lowe to serve as co-chairs of the effort to create a new cultural plan for Houston.

“I want to thank Rick and Philamena for agreeing to give their valuable time and take this on,” said Mayor Parker.  “Houston has changed dramatically since the last cultural plan in 1994.  We are more diverse economically and ethnically.  The number of arts and cultural organizations has grown, and our artist community has become one of the most exciting in the country.  It’s time for a new plan that will position Houston as a leader and destination for arts and culture.”

Rick Lowe is a strategic thinker who is tapped as a consultant on cultural projects around the world.  He was selected by President Obama to serve on the National Council on the Arts.  His most recognizable local project, Project Row Houses, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.  Under his leadership, the organization has hosted more than 300 artists’ installation, performances, readings and other related activities.  He and his team have also developed affordable housing initiatives and brought new life to the El Dorado Ballroom.

Philamena Baird has a lengthy resume that includes serving as president of numerous organizations including the Moore’s School of Music Society, The Houston Ballet Guild and The Jung Education Institute.  She has chaired the prestigious Hunting Art Prize Event, the Shell Houston Open Eagle Awards Charity Gala, the Houston Ballet Dinner, the Miller Outdoor Theatre Advisory Board Gala, the Consular Corps Gala and the Texas Bowl.  She has also served on the boards of the Houston Arts Alliance, Theater Under the Stars and the Harris County Sports Authority.  Her awards for service to our community include being named a Woman of Distinction, receiving a Macy’s Savy Award and being inducted into the Greater Houston Chamber of Commerce Women’s Hall of Fame.

A study released last year by the Houston Arts Alliance and the University of Houston found that the arts, culture and creative businesses, generate almost $10 billion in annual economic benefit within the 10 county region, with the potential to double that number.

The cultural plan process is being coordinated by the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs, with extensive outreach to the community at large, cultural organizations, artists and creative businesses.  Mayor Parker has directed that the plan be finished before she leaves office at the end of 2015.  In tandem with this, the Department of Planning and Development is working on the City’s first general plan.