Cultural Affairs Office

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Mayor's Office of Cultural Affairs Awards $95,000 to Artists and Non-Profit Organizations Through Two Grant Programs

Cultural Arts Grants Photo 1

RSA of Dance and Performing Arts, Let Creativity Happen grantee

January 31, 2022 -- The City of Houston Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs (MOCA) has awarded $95,000 in grants to 12 individuals and five nonprofit organizations whose work promotes cultural tourism and resilience in the city.

The funds were awarded through City’s Initiative and Let Creativity Happen, two competitive grant programs administered by the Houston Arts Alliance (HAA) and funded by a portion of the City’s Hotel Occupancy Tax. Both grant programs were adjudicated through a peer and community-based review process administered by HAA. MOCA congratulates all award recipients as they embark on their projects and thanks them for their dedication to the arts and cultural vitality of Houston.

“Investment in the arts is investment in neighborhoods throughout Houston,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner. “The selected projects, organizations, and artists represent the wealth of diversity found in our city, and I am confident that their work will reflect the resilience and vibrancy of Houston's arts and cultural landscape."

Individuals and organizations who are interested in applying for the next cycle of these grant programs may visit the HAA website for updated information. To find and share all Houston digital events and cultural programming, visit the Cultural Events Calendar.

The following projects are receiving support:


1. Flamart
District C
“Get Out and Dance Houston!”
Get Out and Dance Houston! is a special initiative born in response to the increase in obesity, resulting from months of inactivity due the COVID-19 pandemic. A fun, dance, and music 'mobile' program encourages people in returning to physical activity - all done through artistic expressions. The project will take place from March - July 2022 at multiple City of Houston locations and participating community centers throughout the city's neighborhoods with weekend and weekdays times.

2. Christopher Thomas
District D
“Moving Mountains”
Christopher Thomas will be a producing a theater show titled "Moving Mountains” in Spring 2022. “Moving Mountains” is a one-hour seamless production that combines Street Dance, Contemporary Dance, poetry, and rock climbing. This dynamic production will premiere at the Deluxe Theater in the greater 5th Ward Arts District.

3. Lindsay Gary
District D
“Lit in The Fifth”
“Lit in The Fifth” is a one-day literary event created to highlight the African American literary tradition while also making literature more accessible to Houston’s historic Fifth Ward community. Focusing on the voices of African American women in literature, the event will feature a full day of literary activities including author talks and readings, workshops in creative writing and bookmaking, dramatic presentations, literary vendors, a book drive, and poetry performances. It is a part of a longer, permanent project to build a bookstore in Fifth Ward.

4. Luisa Nadarajah
District C
“Reclaiming the Homage Collection”
Luisa Nadarajah is creating a collaborative and communal art project paying homage to all the people whose lives were lost in 2020 & 2021. Entitled “The Homage Collection,” the fashion show will feature fabric and trims from the departed. Nadarajah is collecting materials from friends and the community and getting the community to help with the process of making flowers from these fabrics.

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Flamart, City’s Initiative grantee

5. Michelle Ukegbu
District D
“The Art of Fufu”
The Art of Fufu will hold a food event to showcase the rich heritage of Nigeria and other West African cultures through culinary arts, fine arts, and music. The food art show will showcase The Art of Fufu cookbook together with inspired artworks from the cookbook, sculptures, and food demonstrations.

6. Phillip Pyle
District C
“Flower Tower”
The Flower Tower is an eighteen-foot sculpture of bicycles and flower baskets. Paying tribute to Cleveland "Flower Man" Turner, the sculpture and the surrounding area will recreate his artistic elements. Located on the former grounds of Cleveland "Flower Man" Turner’s home, the tower will act as a beacon to the neighborhood and the city.

7. The Positive Project
District B
“Project Utopia (Revised)”
The Positive Project "Playahz" will perform a series of new theatrical works designed to address social injustice in several identified neighborhood - Houston's East End, and Third Ward diverse communities to spur social action utilizing collaborative interaction with the indigenousness populations in these neighborhoods. Live performances and events will be held at the Meca@TBH Theater, Midtown Arts Center and Emancipation Park.


8. Emilie Burnod
District C
“Once Upon a Time… Queen Sita meets the Queen of the Swans”
East meets West in this unique dance film that highlights the mime gestures and storytelling power of both Indian kathak dance and European classical ballet. Join the performance film premiere on June 24, 2022 on YouTube and the following week, on July 2, 2022 for an interactive Zoom session with engaging lecture-demonstrations and activities.

9. Jessica Blau
District C
“Sojourns on the Silk Road: from the Orient to the Occident”
This live concert explores the themes of Orientalist art and music through 19th century French and Spanish art songs (voice, piano, guitar) integrated with flamenco dance and 19th century paintings. A livestream option will be available with encouraged discussion around the colonial attitudes presented in the works and how audiences relate to them today. This work is scheduled to take place on Jan 7 & 8, 2022 at Midtown Arts and Theater Center Houston (MATCH) at 7:30pm.

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Lindsay Gary, City’s Initiative grantee

10. Mark Buller
District G
"Soundproof" - Chamber Music Concert Transcending Barriers”
The Russian-American collaborative concert, "Soundproof," features contemporary chamber works by five emerging American composers, alumni of the University of Houston's Moores School of Music, and by five Russian student composers at Moscow State Conservatory. By co-writing a concert program and sharing their music over live-streaming in correspondent domestic concerts, they hope to start a public musical conversation despite of COVID-19 travel limitations and bilateral political tensions. They will be using music to promote mutual understanding and social change for each other and for their audiences, contributing publicly to positive dialogue between peer American and Russian musicians.

11. Paul "Trey" Ferguson
District C
“Montrose Movie Rodeo”
Montrose Movie Rodeo is a queer film series that will host monthly screenings in different venues across Houston. It will use film as a catalyst to create alternative social spaces for the local LGBTQIA+ community to connect to the larger historical and contemporary significance of queer cinema.

12. Robert Jackson
District G
Screwed Up HQ Non-Profit will host the 2nd annual SCREW WEEK in celebration and honor of the late great DJ Screw and the cultural contribution of chopped and screwed music with live performance, panel discussions, and networking opportunities over the course of one week in July 2022. SCREW, and acronym for South Celebrating Robert Earl Week, will consist of an annual birthday celebration, a kickoff event, screw karaoke, Screwcella music performances, and an official freestyle contest.

13. Stacey Allen
District K
“The Fairytale Project”
The Fairytale Project is a historically inspired tale for children of a young African American family re-connecting with their East Texas roots. Based off the love story of Jim and Winnie Shankle, founders of the Texas Freedom Colony, Shankleville, Texas, a modern-day family has peculiar encounters with pasts that remind of what is to be most cherished- family, faith, love, and legacy. This heavily dance infused production with an original score will premiere at Discovery Green in Summer 2022 for a diverse audience to experience at no cost.

14. Suzette Mouchaty
District C
“Nudibranchs: The Intersection of Art & Science”
Mouchaty plans to use art at the intersection of science to encourage reflection about the natural world and to inspire people to reimagine the future as societies grapple with climate change. She intends to install a large scale, charismatic artwork in a public space in Houston and to use the opportunity to engage the public in person and virtually through internet tours and digital documentation.

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Suzette Mouchaty, Let Creativity Happen grantee

District C
“Livewire Explorer”
Livewire Explorer is the interactive website accompanying Musiqa’s January 21-22 premiere of “String Quartet No. 3” by Anthony Brandt. The virtual component explores the neuroscience inspiration behind this new work, which was developed in collaboration with NobleMotion Dance and University of Houston neuroscientist Dr. Jose Luis Contreras-Vidal. Livewire Explorer will take listeners on a step-by-step journey through each of String Quartet No. 3’s five movements utilizing animation by Houston artist Traci Lavois Thiebaud to illustrate the brain processes that spark human creativity.

16. RSA of Dance and Performing Arts
District K
“Rising Ballerinas: A New Generation”
RSA of Dance and Performing Arts is the premiere fine arts training and educational institution in Houston’s beloved Hiram Clarke area. On June 8th, from 9am-6pm, they will be hosting a free, open to the public ballet workshop entitled "Rising Ballerinas: The Next Generation" at the Townwood Community Center, for ages 8 and up to experience interactive sessions with some of the most amazing ballerinas! They will feature Houston’s own next wave of ballerinas- Ashley Mayeux, Carmen Jones, Paige White to teach, inspire, mentor and coach the next generation of aspiring dancers.

17. Silambam Houston
District C
“Dancing Into STEM”
Dancing into STEM’ is a series of short videos that harness the storytelling power and movement vocabulary of Indian classical dance, and the rhythms of Indian classical music, to engage young audiences in an exploration of STEM concepts. The videos will include English narration and voiceovers, paired with the expressive and gestural storytelling and rhythmic movement vocabulary of Indian classical dance, as well as text references and simple graphics as needed. These simple, engaging videos will encourage young viewers to explore their own expressivity and creativity in exploring science and math through Indian arts.

About the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs
The City of Houston Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs guides the City’s cultural investments with policies and initiatives that expand access to arts and cultural programs in the community, attract visitors and leverage private investment. Learn more at and follow us on Facebook & Instagram @HoustonMOCA.

About the Houston Arts Alliance
Houston Arts Alliance (HAA) is a local arts and culture organization whose principal 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 City of Houston, overseen by the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs. HAA also executes privately funded special projects to meet the needs of the arts community, such as disaster preparation, research on the state of the arts in Houston, and temporary public art projects that energize neighborhoods.