Cultural Affairs Office

Press and Communications

City Reaffirms Commitment to Arts and Culture Services

December 12, 2019 -- The Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs announces City Council approval of approximately $128 million of Hotel Occupancy Tax (HOT) revenue for arts and culture grants over the next five to seven years through a new contract with Houston Arts Alliance.

The Mayor's Office of Cultural Affairs (MOCA) advises the mayor on cultural policy and sets the vision and goals for the City's cultural investments. With the City’s adopted Arts and Cultural Plan as the guide, MOCA has achieved a high level of fairness, equity and transparency in the grants programs.

State law provides municipalities the use of some HOT revenues for the support of the arts to promote tourism and advance the convention and hotel industry.

Calendar year 2020 marks the 42nd year a Houston public/private partnership – exemplified by the contract with the Arts Alliance -- in support of the arts in Houston. Collaboration has proved highly effective in developing the nonprofit arts community and providing vital services to residents and visitors in Houston.

“I commend and thank the arts community for working together to reach the contract approval to continue the City of Houston’s investment in cultural services,” Mayor Sylvester Turner said. “I see first-hand the diversity of creative expression available every day across our city and all of the ways the arts contribute to the image of Houston as a great place to live and visit.”

“The work we have done over the last four years has strengthened our systems because they reinforce our values and respond to community concerns,” said MOCA Director Debbie McNulty. “This is the fairest contract in the city’s recent history by instituting a new uniform grants application process that recognizes the contributions of nonprofit organizations of all sizes and disciplines as well as artists.”

Arts and culture offerings provide benefits to residents and improve quality of life through lifelong learning, student success, social and civic engagement, as well as significant economic benefits and jobs.

The local nonprofit arts and culture sector is a $1.2 billion industry that employs a wide range of professions, generates local and state government revenue and pumps more than half a billion dollars into restaurants, hotels, retail stores, parking garages, and other local businesses.

IHOT-funded groups draw total audiences of about 11 million people per year and over half of the events are free to the public.The new contract ensures residents and visitors will continue to have access to a full range of cultural offerings from the largest institutions to neighborhood-based groups throughout Houston, providing film, choir, literary works, visual art, jazz, dance, theatre, musicals, outdoor sculpture, classical music, opera, murals, poetry, craft, folk & traditional arts, photography, and more.

Houston Arts Alliance administers City-funded competitive peer review grant programs to support the delivery of cultural services through over 300 non-profit arts and cultural organizations, individual artists and special art projects.

As the local arts agency, HAA also administers a city-funded cultural calendar open to any organization or event. It will also serve the single point of contact for MOCA's disaster-related communications going forward.

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

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