Cultural Affairs Office

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MOCA's First Demographic Review of Artists Will Help to Advance the City of Houston's Cultural Equity Goals

October 1, 2020 -- The Mayor's Office of Cultural Affairs (MOCA) released its first demographic review of artist representation in the City of Houston's collection of public art. The equity review is designed to help advance the City's cultural equity goals and includes the statistics of gender, race/ethnicity, and women of color within the city's collection of 677 artworks.

MOCA assessed the entire Civic Art collection to determine how the demographics of the City's collection compare to Houston's overall demographics. The review also includes the City's financial investments in female artists and artists of color.

Houston is the first city to release an equity review based on its art collection.

"Houston continues to lead the way when it comes to fairness and representation for our artist community," said Mayor Sylvester Turner. "I commend MOCA for taking a hard look at the data. Only 17 women who are Black Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC) have artworks in the City's Collection. We cannot ignore this data or wait to make the changes that will distribute opportunity equitably."

Equity Pie Chart Graphic 1

The study found men represent 60 percent, while women represent 32 percent of the city’s art collection. Caucasian artists are also overwhelmingly represented with 68.5 percent of the collection, with the next highest percentage being 'unknown' at 12.9 percent. The review found that 5.2 percent of the collection's artworks are Hispanic or Latinx artists, 6.6 percent are Black or African American artists, and 4.4 percent are Asian artists. The City has just one artwork in the collection by an American Indian or Alaskan Native and zero artworks by Native Hawaiians or other Pacific Islander artists.

Equity Pie Chart Graphic 2

"We wanted to know how well opportunity was being distributed amongst our artists when it comes to our city's cultural equity," said Debbie McNulty, Director of the Mayor's Office of Cultural Affairs. "The data will ultimately help us understand where we are and how we can change course for a more inclusive and diverse Civic Art Collection for the City of Houston."

MOCA will take several immediate and long-term actions in collaboration with the Houston Arts Alliance (HAA) who manages the artist selection process for commissions and acquisitions.

Immediate actions include publicly releasing the findings and providing them to all future artist selection panels. Long-term actions include ongoing reporting of demographic statistics with the Annual Civic Art Report, engaging HAA's Civic Art Committee, developing pathways for underrepresented artists, and establishing trust with those communities.

Houston Arts Alliance is a local arts, and culture organization whose principle work is to implement the City of Houston's vision, values, and goals for its arts grantmaking and civic art investments. HAA's work is conducted through contracts with the Mayor's Office of Cultural Affairs.

The Mayor's Office of Cultural Affairs released the Equity Review in conjunction with its Annual Civic Art Report to Mayor and City Council. The reports are available on the Civic Art Program webpage

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