Cultural Affairs Office

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Mayor's Office of Cultural Affairs Awards Grants to Digitally Innovative Arts and Cultural Works

September 27, 2022 -- The Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs (MOCA) announced today it is awarding $42,500 in grants to 17 individuals and nonprofit organizations that have imagined their work in the digital realm using streaming services, virtual reality, and digital curation to deliver manifested live concerts as well as theatre performances, and literary concepts; all in online-only platforms.

"The 17 projects we are funding are creative and represent our city's support of the arts community. There is a variety of art forms that the City of Houston supports this quarter," said Mayor Sylvester Turner. "The creatives we are funding showcase the diversity of our cherished city, and the added digital outreach of their works ensures accessibility for everyone – not just in Houston but across the world. We truly are a creative global city."

The funds were awarded through “Let Creativity Happen”, a competitive grant program that is administered by the Houston Arts Alliance (HAA) and funded by a portion of the city’s Hotel Occupancy Tax (HOT).

The quarterly program offers grants for arts and cultural experiences that use technology to connect audiences beyond the physical boundaries of space. Artists and creatives interested in applying for city funding to support their arts and cultural work should apply to the 2022 Grant Cycle launching on September 30th. Learn more about the grant opportunities.

The latest “Let Creativity Happen” grantees will create the following work:

Black Galactic, By Franchelle Lucas
“From October 13 through October 15, multidisciplinary visual and performing artists Frewuhn and Monae Jacobs will present a three-part hybrid (live and digital performance art installation) “The Black Galactic.” The free performance will include an in-person and digital artist conversation, journal session (in-person and digital), and live streamed performance at Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern. This performance is an opportunity for participants to assess how the pandemic has left a "black hole," that has altered the way we perceive and interact with reality while also confronting the beauty in the unknown through sound, reflection, visual art projection, and digital simulation.”

Location: Houston By Public Poetry  
“Location: Houston pairs 5 diverse and inclusive Houston poets with 5 Houston filmmakers or videographers, commissioning each pair to create a new and original 5-minute video poem or poetry film that highlights activities, experiences, sights, and sounds that make Houston the city it is. Their commissioned work will be live screened on Friday, February 24, 2023, with the makers present to discuss their work, and shown online on multiple websites and YouTube.”

Bourgeois-Z By Freneticore 
“Bourgeois-Z is a new dance work created by Lebanese-American performance artist Jadd Tank. Using Max Brooks' World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War and David Roegler's The Sinking Middle Class as inspiration, Tank's timely new work investigates the absurdity of late-stage capitalism and its effects on the way people move. Bourgeois-Z will be live-streamed from the Midtown Arts and Theater Center Houston (MATCH) on October 30, 2022.”

City Life: Road Rage By Frame Dance Productions   
“Distracted Driving: it's a big problem. This new large-scale public dance performance by Lydia Hance, "the city's reigning guru of dance in public spaces" (Dance Magazine) takes place in a parking lot. This new two-day performance will examine what happens if we take away the protective metal casings of cars that make us feel anonymous and we see the people who drive the cars maneuvering...dancing in a parking lot. Road Rage is a chapter in the year-long performance series choreographed by Lydia Hance, City Life, a collaboration with artist Cindee Klement in which we reimagine urban landscapes.”

The Love Project Live By Sharee Davis
“The Love Project is a Documentary and Live Music event focused on the journey of falling in love. We interview Houston residents, asking them about their deepest love and their most difficult heartbreak. These filmed responses are woven into our documentary, as we compose music that represents the feelings conveyed, and we play them live with our Orchestra. Our goal is to create an all-inclusive space where we can all come to connect, heal and grow as lovers.”

Black Birth Work Docuseries By Jacob Schafer 
“In “Offshoots,” I will perform and record pieces for solo violin by established composers, paired with newly commissioned pieces by up-and-coming composers. By presenting works by Gabriela Lena Frank, Michael Friedmann, Nicky Sohn, and Max Vinetz, “Offshoots” showcases composers with Houston connections, demonstrates the diverse influences each brings to the table, and celebrates the ties that bind us all together. Each piece will receive a recording and online premiere between October 2022 and March 2023, as well as an in-person live performance in March 2023.”

"Angelitos Negros" Restaging and Virtual Artist Talk By Stacey Allen
“‘Angelitos Negroes’ choreographed by Lori Bujung, director of Second Generation Dance Company, chronicles the often untold history and experiences of enslaved Africans traveling to Mexico for freedom. This important historical piece will remain in Nia's Daughters Movement Collective repertory and will ultimately be featured in future evening-length shows with the other works. The restaging of this historical piece is significant because it will add to a body of work portraying African Americans in Texas with resilient and revolutionary spirits.”

Divine Poets of the Diaspora By Ashley Hoskins
“Divine Poets of the Diaspora examines the complexity of identity and womanhood throughout the African diaspora. This is made visual through a multi-media usage of photography, video, sound, and written poetry. The project is focused on feminine transcendence and the spiritual process of healing across the diaspora.”

Catalyst: An Immersive Performance By Bethany Logan
“‘Catalyst’ is an immersive dance performance taking place between March 13-18, 2023 at one of Houston's most unique venues, The Silo. The performance bridges the history of the 1924 abandoned rice mill warehouse with present-day social justice issues, from workers' wages to women's rights.”

The Biggest Brandon Presents: Lost, An Exploration of Vulnerability in Masculinity By Brandon Willis
“The Biggest Brandon will spotlight black-owned coffee shops and bookstores across Houston through a 3-part pop-up series on black masculinity/femininity and black fatherhood. Through a combination of classical music, jazz, R&B, and hip-hop, The Biggest Brandon will host a monthly concert series during the winter months of October, November, and December 2022 in hopes to attract more visitors and music to traditional spaces.”

Uncle Bob's Photo Zine Market By Jessi Bowman
“Uncle Bob’s Photo Zine Market is a one-day market that showcases regional photography zine-makers. It will take place during the FotoFest 2022 Biennial on Saturday, October 15 at Hardy & Nance Studios from 1-7 PM. A zine, or self-published magazine, is a unique, affordable, accessible medium for photographers to distribute their work. The photo zine community is part of the regional zine scene and a distinctly unique niche group of zine-makers.”

Ambition - A Dance on Film By Deeper Than Dance  
“'Ambition' is a short dance on film project aimed to debut at the end of November 2022 via online platforms such as YouTube, Instagram, and our website. We also plan to have a small viewing of the film for our community when it debuts. The film will highlight the story of living up to your ambition regardless of trials and tribulations. The film will aim to include 8-9 dancers, filmed at outdoor and indoor locations.”

"Life is Made of Choices" Film Festival By Murad Aliyev
“‘Life is Made of Choices’ Film Festival is an online live-stream event designed to showcase all films of SACI grant winner Murad Aliyev in one single festival. Short films made during the last 12 years, for the first time will be shown in one consecutive festival for the online audience. The proposed festival will be tentatively held on October 15th, 2022.”

Beethoven in the City By La Speranza Music
“La Speranza evokes the vibrant life of the past through historically informed performances and lectures. For four Thursday evenings in June 2023, La Speranza will present a different movement of Beethoven’s String Quartet in B flat Major along with a short, relatable anecdote about the composer and/or the music to show how the B flat major quartet lends itself to the fast-paced life in the city. Each of these short, interactive presentations will be held in Garza Studios in the Second Ward. The final presentation will also include a performance of the entire quartet.”

The Americanist By Elizabeth Newkirk
“'The Americanist' is a multi-faceted project including an album of interwar orchestral works for solo piano, an essay composing an American cultural myth, and set designs for the stage. The release of the album and essay is July 15, 2022. I am planning for its kick-off performance this fall where all components can be performed and brought to life.”

Writing Sideways By Dean Liscum
“Writing Sideways uses techniques from surrealism, theater of the absurd, and automatic writing to explore new approaches to political, social, and cultural issues. I will open the workshop by reading examples from my published work. Next, I will walk participants through a series of exercises to help them approach the issue/issues of their choice from new/re-imagined vantage points. Finally, we will work together to create drafts of an original work that incorporates their work from the exercises.”

The Late Bloomer LP/ The Healing Concert By Camisha Long
“Are you ready for healing through music? Are you ready to be mentally stimulated? Well, IFIMUS's The Late Bloomer the album and concert will provide all that and more! Just in time for the New Year. Houston this will be one for the books. Warning this will cause you to dig deep, dance hard, and smile brightly. Open your mind as well as your ears to the new sound of healing. We are here to mature and flourish at a specified time. Go and bloom my late bloomers. Your beauty is truly remarkable.”

The digital focus of the grant program provides an opportunity for innovation that opens Houston's vibrant arts and cultural community to a global audience. Additionally, online-only platforms break down accessibility barriers, increase interest among audiences, and invite experimentation on a large scale. Most importantly, this digital focus facilitates the reimagination of these important cultural contributions beyond traditional structures.

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 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.

Jessi Bowman - Let Creativity Happen!

Let Creativity Happen! – Jessi Bowman

Brandon Willis - Let Creativity Happen!

Let Creativity Happen! – Brandon Willis

Elizabeth Newkirk - Let Creativity Happen!

Let Creativity Happen! – Elizabeth Newkirk