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Mayor's Office of Cultural Affairs Awards $87,500 to Projects Promoting Tourism and Resilience

September 28, 2022 -- Today, the City of Houston Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs (MOCA) announced it is awarding $87,500 in grants to 9 individuals and nonprofit organizations whose work furthers cultural tourism and resilience in the city.

The funds were awarded through “City’s Initiative”, 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.

The program opens four times a year and offers grants in three categories: neighborhood cultural destinations, conference tourism, and resilience awareness.

"The selected awardees represent and work with subjects that are near and dear to many Houstonians: from historical roots, and migration, to a topic as multilayered as identity,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner. “Art is wonderful in that it has the power to make complex subjects resonate with everyone.”

The latest “City’s Initiative” grantees are:

  • Contemporary Art Museum:  CAMH will be presenting New York and Los Angeles-based artist Diane Severin Nguyen’s first public art commission in the form of billboards located at key sites significant to the Vietnamese community in Houston. To bring the context for the billboards to life and inspire deeper engagement, a panel discussion involving local Asian American artists and academics on the topic of Transnational Asian Identity will take place. This project will occupy a month in conjunction with Diane’s first solo museum exhibition (to take place from October 28, 2022–February 26, 2023) as well as the Lunar New Year (January 22, 2023).(This grant was awarded under the Neighborhood Cultural Destinations category.)
  • Art League Houston: Art League Houston (ALH) is excited to present PLATFORM, a new opportunity for emerging, mid-career, under-recognized, as well as established artists to exhibit new works of temporary public art on a billboard-like platform on the exterior of the ALH building. The program commissions new work through a mix of curated selection and proposals selected from an open call application, with the first round of featured artists to begin in September 2022. Each project will be premiered at a public unveiling event and will host a talk by the exhibiting artist, both of which will take place at ALH. (This grant was awarded under the Neighborhood Cultural Destinations category.)
  • Archaeological Institute of America Houston Society: Archaeology Now, the Museum of Fine Arts, Baker Ripley House & the Consulate of Mexico partner to tell the story of Dia de Los Muertos in Oaxaca. The project strives to reach the larger Houston community and enhance cultural understanding, ensure accurate representation, and reveal stories about cultural and immigrant groups in Houston from Mexico. It will collaborate with cultural stakeholders in the Mexico community of 2nd Ward and partner with Houston institutions working within the Mexican community to present events. This project features six events at multiple locations across Houston focused on the ancient roots of Dia de Los Muertos. (This grant was awarded under the Neighborhood Cultural Destinations category.)
  • Henry Darragh: Music of South Park intends to provide the community of South Park with music instruments, coaching, and interaction with positive rappers from their neighborhood and professional musicians of Houston. By collaborating with musicians and rappers from South Park, hip-hop music from the neighborhood will be celebrated with a live concert on March 17th. The show will be a free, all-ages concert to be given at E.P. Hill Park the week of Spring Break 2023. The workshops will be every Monday after school at E.P. Hill Park. These sessions will be free for all ages, at no charge.(This grant was awarded under the Neighborhood Cultural Destinations category.)
  • Houston Brass Quintet Inc.: City Beats is a contemporary work for Brass Quintet and electronics, dedicated to the Underground Houston Hip Hop scene. Centered around Social Justice, Houston Brass Quintet Inc. would like to start the commission with Houston BIPOC Composer Stephen Bachicha this fall, with a performance at Levy Park in the Spring. (This grant was awarded under the Neighborhood Cultural Destinations category.)
  • Sarah Sudhoff: "The Body as Material Witness", a solo exhibition by visual artist Sarah Sudhoff, will open during Fotofest's photographic biennial in Houston, reaching an average of 250,000 visitors. "The Body as Material Witness" will feature the female figure as a unifying form and will include large-scale color photographs, videos, and a series of live performances creating opportunities for engaging conversations that address bodies and communities as shared and yet, ultimately, distinct. Ellio Fine Art will host the exhibition and free educational programming throughout the month of October including an artist talk and panel discussion. (This grant was awarded under the Conference Tourism category.)
  • Houston Climate Justice Museum: "Climate Migration: Displacement, Travel, Home," is a series of art installations, expert panels, and public engagements that aim to deepen understanding and experiences of climate migration in Houston. Running from September 2022 to December 2022, the undertaking and its ensuing free-to-the-public events and exhibits will take place at several sites: The Houston Climate Justice Museum (located in the Greater East End), the Solar Studios at Rice University, CHAT, and Baker Ripley. (This grant was awarded under the Resilience category.)
  • Quoc Huynh: A romantic action-comedy drama film based on real events will be shot in Houston's Chinatown & Little Saigon (International District), Huynh’s film will tell the story of a disgraced Chinatown police officer who gambled away his career by succumbing to corruption and his redemption when the neighborhood grocery store and plazas are targeted for gentrification. An iconic factor of this film will be its depiction of real communities, locations, and businesses within Houston while being dramatic, action-packed, and fun. (This grant was awarded under the Neighborhood Cultural Destinations category.)
  • Groupe Acorde: Group Acorde will be returning to the stage in full capacity for the first time since fall 2019 to present two world premieres. The performances at the Deluxe theater in late November/early December will feature the work of Houston based, Brazilian choreographer Roberta Paixao Cortes and a new creation from a Houston-based choreographer that will be presented with live music, created in collaboration with Houston-based composers and musicians. (This grant was awarded under the Neighborhood Cultural Destinations category.)

For more information on past grantees, click here. To see upcoming events from previous or the latest 2022 grantees, visit the frequently updated Cultural Events Calendar.

Artists and creatives interested in applying to “City’s Initiative” to support their arts and cultural work should apply to the 2022 Grant Cycle launching on September 30th.

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.

City's Initiative - Sarah Sudhoff

City's Initiative - Sarah Sudhoff

City's Initiative - Archaeological Institute of America Houston Society

City's Initiative - Archaeological Institute of America Houston Society