Cultural Affairs Office

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Mayor Turner Announces Festival Grant Awards

July 2, 2018 -- Mayor Sylvester Turner today announced the first awardees of the new grant program Festival Grant via the Houston Arts Alliance (HAA). Sixteen festivals with venues across Houston were selected for funding totaling $145,475.

“Houston is a welcoming city with festivals as diverse as our neighborhoods,” Mayor Sylvester Turner said. “More and more people are visiting this great city because of our people and the rich variety of our cultural life.”

The Festival Grant program was designed to support art festivals or art components of cultural festivals to celebrate Houston’s diversity and promote the City’s creative identity as a unique arts and culture destination.

Applications went through a multi-step review-approval process and panels were made up of a diverse group of local professionals, including: Judi Quesonova, Vice President of Client Services, Visit Houston; Jane Holman, Deputy Assistant Director, Mayor's Office of Special Events; Desmond Bertrand-Pitts, Executive Director, Buffalo Soldiers National Museum; Christine West, Cultural Programs Manager, Houston First Corporation and member of HAA’s Grants Committee and Louise Upshaw-McClenny who serves on the Houston Arts Alliance Board of Directors, representing the Hotel & Lodging Association of Greater Houston, and is currently Chair of HAA’s Grants Committee.

Congratulations to all the award recipients. Mayor Turner thanks all recipients for their dedication and contribution to Houston’s dynamic arts and culture landscape.

Festival Grant Graphic

Below is a list of festivals and organizations receiving grants:

  • Ratha Yatra or the Festival of Chariots, July 14, 2018, has been celebrated in Houston since 2008 with fanfare. Its major goal is to bring together people of all color, race, and religion and showcase the cultural diversity of Houston. It represents a colorful, centuries-old cultural heritage from India promoting universal brotherhood.
  • The Black Heritage Fest, August 10-12, 2018 is a comprehensive artistic and cultural event that combines quantitative and qualitative methods and includes a variety of stakeholders such as local and national artists, resident, area arts non-profit organizations and businesses. The Black Heritage Fest is in its fourth year with thousands of attendees annually and millions of impressions.
  • The Texas Taco Music Fest IV, September 15, 2018, will present emerging Latino bands, visual artists, and roving performers including Mariachi, artists & designers, crafts persons and an international guest chef. The Houston Latin American Orchestra has been invited to accompany internationally acclaimed vocalist Barbara Padilla and Mexico's Irma Infante to commemorate Diez Y Seis de Septiembre in keeping with CHEITA's international exchange mission. A 2,500 year old continuously practiced Aztec Concheras ritual will be performed. Our 2017 guest chef, Sylvia, was from Oslo, Norway was accompanied by a film German crew. This year we are inviting a guest chef from Primos Mexican Grill of Vancouver, Canada.
  • Frame x Frame Dance Film Fest, September 21-23, 2018, Have you ever seen a dance under water? Tucked between the worlds of Dance Performance and Film lies a stirring category called Dance-on-Camera. It is a powerful way to allow audiences to see dance as it relates to different environments. You can take the cameras to places you can’t bring large live audiences.
  • Meeting of Styles Houston September 21-23, 2018, by Underground Planet Art Studio, LLC, is a three-day event in which 100+ artists from around the world will paint murals and graffiti-style productions in Northside Houston.
  • Mid-Autumn Dance Festival September 22, 2018, by Dance of Asian America is a free open-to-public city-wide dance festival uniting unite the Houston dance community of all dance styles and cultural backgrounds.
  • Celebration of Dance October 6, 2018, by Dance Houston is a festival featuring twelve local dance companies in one evening performing a variety of styles.
  • 40th Houston Italian Festival (Festa Italiana) October 11-14, 2018, organized by Italian Cultural & Community Center of Houston, will present arts and cultural events as diverse as Italy’s realities.
  • Peak Shift October 13-December 1, 2018, is a 2018 iteration of the Sculpture Month Houston (SMH). This citywide biennial installation project will survey the sculptural medium from Texas and across its borders in over 40 venues across the City.
  • The Centennial Oktober Festival October 13, 20 & 27, 2018, organized by Czech Cultural and Community Center presents a family friendly entertainment packed with live music, dance, and culture.
  • Korean Festival Houston October 13, 2018, presented by Korean American Society of Houston is the largest Korean event in the city Houston that showcases both traditional and contemporary Korean arts, culture, and cuisine to attendees of all backgrounds.
  • Houston AfriFEST October 27, 2018, is a family-friendly, open-air community event hosted by a number of partnering African organizations, led by the Nigerian-American Multicultural Council. This festival brings together over 10 African communities to share the richness of Africa's diverse cultures with fellow Houstonians and guests on the Houston Bapist University campus.
  • Dia de los Muertos Festival October 27 & 28, 2018, organized by Multicultural Education and Counseling Through the Arts (MECA) is a 2-day Festival offered free to the public, that supports and showcases Houston area visual and performing artists while attracting thousands of visitors from the Houston area, Texas and Mexico.
  • The Houston Via Colori® Street Painting Festival November 17 & 18, 2018, is a two-day, annual art and music festival in downtown Houston. Entering its 13th year, Via Colori has grown into one of Houston’s signature arts events and remains the only street painting festival of its scale in the region. The festival is organized by The Center for Hearing and Speech.
  • Zine Fest Houston 2018 November 17, 2018, is the City's only platform for emerging and established regional and national zine makers to exchange new work and create meaningful relationships that lead to productive collaboration. Annually, it attracts people from Austin, Baytown, Dallas, Los Angeles, Mexico City, New Orleans, Portland, San Antonio, and Seattle, as well as towns and suburbs in the Houston metro area and beyond.
  • Jewish CultureFest December 2, 2018, organized by Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center of Houston is a community-wide celebration of local Jewish culture that highlights the diverse creative identity of Houston’s Jewish community and provides a space for Houstonians to celebrate the many facets of this culture at Levy Park.

The 2019 Festival Grant application opens Friday, August 24, 2018 with a deadline of Monday, September 24, 2018 at 5:30 p.m.

For more information or to sign up for a workshop please visit the or contact the Grants staff at or 713-527-9330 x450.

Funding for the Festival grant program is provided by the City of Houston utilizing Hotel Occupancy Taxes.

To learn more about the City’s cultural programs visit, and follow the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs on Facebook and Instagram @HoustonMOCA.