Cultural Affairs Office

Press and Communications

2017 Brings Increased Funding for Arts Groups

February 1, 2017 -- City Council today approved budget plans to support thousands of arts and cultural programs in 2017, along with an increase in grant funding available to small organizations. More than 250 local nonprofit arts and cultural organizations will present a wide range of offerings this year for people of all ages, including numerous free activities. Through a contract for the support, advancement and promotion of the arts with four agencies -- Houston Arts Alliance, The Houston Museum District Association, Miller Theatre Advisory Board and Theater District Improvement—the City of Houston invests in Houston’s  cultural development and enhances tourism. The approved plans authorize the distribution of an estimated $15,425,000 by the four agencies in 2017. As part of this year’s authorization, Houston Arts Alliance is increasing its budget for grants by six percent.

“Houston is one of the best places in the world for the arts and investment in the arts has been an important part of Houston’s success,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner. “Creative, vibrant and strong cities are attractive to investors in industry, business and tourism, and in turn, generate employment opportunities, expand the tax-base and generally add to the real wealth of the community. I want to thank Philamena Baird and the board of Houston Arts Alliance for working in collaboration with the Office of Cultural Affairs to increase grant funding this year, so residents and visitors can experience more of Houston’s diverse cultural offerings.”

The City of Houston’s Arts and Cultural Plan highlights the strategic opportunity the city’s cultural assets represent for Houston’s civic identity. The Plan recommends developing opportunities for neighborhood-based cultural tourism, increased funding for small, emerging, culturally focused and ethnic organizations and artists, as well as increased transparency in the allocation of City arts and culture grants. As part of the Plan implementation, more information about the City’s cultural grants and funding is now available at

“Houston has grown and changed a lot in the last ten years and we are responding,” said Houston Arts Alliance Board Chair Philamena Baird. “I was honored to co-chair the Arts and Cultural Plan Advisory Committee and I heard firsthand the challenges artists and arts groups are facing. The additional funding this year is just a first step. With the Mayor, we have set a target of allocating another 10 percent of funding to grants by working with the City to streamline programs.  We will be conducting a thorough review of our processes in consultation with grantees and stakeholders, eliminating unnecessary reporting and improving efficiency.”

The City of Houston invests the maximum amount of Hotel Occupancy Tax allowed under State statute for the promotion of tourism through the arts.  Funding of the four-party contract is apportioned as follows: Houston Arts Alliance (39.5 percent), The Houston Museum District Association (18 percent), Miller Theatre Advisory Board (16 percent) and Theater District Improvement (24 percent). Houston Arts Alliance also administers applications made to the City Initiative grant program (2.5 percent).

The Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs implements the City’s Arts and Cultural Plan, ensuring the City’s investments celebrate Houston’s artists, cultures and communities with transparency, accountability, access and equity.

Find arts and cultural events in Houston at and

For more information about the City’s Cultural Programs go to or follow the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs on Facebook @HoustonMOCA.