July 25, 2022 -- The City of Houston Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs (MOCA) announced it is awarding $35,000 in grants to 14 individuals and nonprofit organizations that have reimagined their work in the digital realm. The work includes streaming services, virtual reality, and digital curation to deliver manifested live concerts, theatre performances, and literary concepts in online-only platforms.
“The digital focus of this grant program provides an opportunity for innovation that opens Houston's vibrant arts and cultural community to a global audience,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner. “Our history of investing in the creative economy and our artists is an integral part of who we are as an international city.”
The funds were awarded through “Let Creativity Happen,” a competitive grant program that is administered by Houston Arts Alliance (HAA) and funded by a portion of the city’s Hotel Occupancy Tax (HOT).
The program opens four times in 2022 and 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 August 2nd. Learn more.
The latest “Let Creativity Happen” grantees will create the following work:
1. Art League Houston Make & Take Day
By Art League of Houston
"On December 4, 2022 from 1PM to 5 PM, Art League Houston will host Make & Take, an art-making event for all ages at our campus on 1953 Montrose Boulevard. The event is open to the entire community and will feature amazing local artists, makers, and organizations providing hands-on demonstrations of a variety of art making projects that you can make and then take home. In addition to your own masterpieces, Make & Take will have a companion video series so you can recreate your favorite projects at home with your friends and family too.”
2. Online Classes Using Art to Support Mental Health
By C G Jung Educational Center of Houston Texas
“The Jung Center offers a wide range of multidisciplinary, interactive arts programming to the public. In three semesters throughout the year, classes and events are led by artists and instructors to use the arts to support the mental health of our community.”
3. "With One Accord" Podcast Series, Season 3
By Houston Chamber Choir
“The Houston Chamber Choir's acclaimed video podcast "With One Accord" will return for its third season in Fall 2022! Get ready for a noteworthy season of exclusive interviews, featuring guest artists from our upcoming 2022-23 artistic season on "Behind the Music" with St. John Flynn. Discover endearing and informative stories about the inspirational scholars and educators in Houston's choral world and beyond on "Education Spotlight" with April Harris. Episodes are released at noon CT.”
4. Hispanic Heritage Month Short Films
By Houston Latino Film Festival
“The Houston Latino Film Festival (HLFF) is proposing an online streaming event of short films and feature films during Hispanic Heritage Month, from September 15 through October 15. This would take place on the virtual platform we created and with a one-time fee. The audience would be able to view past films from HLFF events, as well as new ones, and engage with the filmmakers through pre-recorded interviews and introductions of the films.”
5. Black Birth Work Docuseries
By Alyssa Rachelle Savannah
"Black Birth Work is a 12-episode docuseries that illuminates Black birth stories, black birth families, their birthing options, and black family legacy. This project is revolutionary in the face of the ongoing black maternal health crisis in which Black women are 3-4 times more likely to die than their white counterparts from preventable birth complications. This docuseries is the first of its kind in that it gives Black women a chance to share their birth stories in their own words. We envision this project to be an empowering cultural and educational tool that ultimately saves Black women’s lives.
By Terrell Quillin
“#BlackSheepWhiteSheep is a podcast that seeks to create a safe space for the conversation around the diversification of Houston, the USA, and the world. This show will appeal to people who have been called an Oreo, white boy/girl, acting white, and who have struggled to fit in. Common themes we will discuss are the following: trauma, microaggressions, and experiences. This will look like blog posts, social media posts, interviews, and eventually in-person events. New episodes will be available Wednesday at 2 pm CST throughout the month of September 2022.”
7. Black Social Creativity: Minor Revolutions
By Chavonté Wright
“We invite a diverse audience to Upper Kirby and Day 6 Coffee in July for an art talk on Minor Revolutions, or social experiments with maintaining wellness. I will share three 23x35" graphite and charcoal drawings of children that are linked to two 11x18” citation images. These text images offer interpretations of the works of art and encourage dialogue on sustaining health and wellness amid ongoing disaster.
8. Shadow Projection Series
By Cressandra Thibodeaux
“The Shadow Projection Series is a Photographic exhibition tour with live activations (talk-backs with the artist, subjects and a Jungian Specialist). The photos explore our Jungian Shadow Selves. Cressandra Thibodeaux photographs her subjects, then projects their images onto themselves, creating a space for their shadows to appear.”
9. Great Leaders Explored
By Crystal Toussant
“Lone Star Players Summer Camp will have a low-cost 2-week Performing and Visual Arts summer camp for students primarily in District D with any Houston Area students welcome to join. Our students in the 3rd - 10th grade age range will research, memorize, and perform the play, Shirley Chisholm: "Unbought and Unbossed" by Mary Satchell. We will offer a Digital option for viewing and an in-person performance at a location in District D in August 2022.”
10. When We Cross
By Jahrel Pickens
“A digitally curated 4-episode music series. The music performances will be recorded live in front of an audience while the interviews and background info will be edited in before the final episodes are aired.”
11. Moroccan Live!
By Kristina Koutsoudas
“Eight traditional Moroccan dance classes (2x/week for one month) presented virtually (Zoom), free of charge, to an international community of women culminating either in live performance at the Houston Fringe Festival this October/November 2022 (confirmed) at MATCH and/or virtual performance presented via Facebook/Vimeo. Classes/performance would allow students and professionals to participate in the form regardless of location and schedule, would create and foster a supportive, empowering women's community through the arts, and would encourage the preservation of a dying, indigenous North African art form and ongoing artistic engagement, experimentation, and inquiry as to virtual pedagogy of this traditional dance style.”
12. Artist Dialogue for Love is a House that Even Death Can’t Knock Down
By Lawndale Art and Performance Center
“This Fall in Lawndale’s John M. O’Quinn Gallery, artists Monica Kennedy (MK), Irene Antonia Diane Reece, and Jamie Robertson will present Love is a House that Even Death Can’t Knock Down, a body of work using family archives to reflect on the sacredness of Black life. Accompanying this exhibition will be a recorded dialogue (free and accessible online) with the artists and an identified scholar to further explore life, death, and memory in relation to Southern Black experience.”
13. January Bones: Bayou Dolls Ball
By Mario Romero
“January Bones: Bayou Dolls Ball is an exhilarating performance of drag, vogue, pole and contemporary dance fused with high fashion, interactive art, and avant-garde concepts. It will highlight the vogue ballroom scene and will be open to participants of all experience levels to compete in various categories such as Catwalk, hands performance, floor performance, and Body. The vogue ball will spotlight local creatives and HIV organizations and promote HIV awareness, education, and access to honor the LGBTQIA+ community and those affected by HIV.”
14. Vote In TX
By Nyssa Juneau
“Vote in TX uses art to connect the community to essential voter information in preparation for the upcoming election on November 8, 2022.A collaboration between Houston artists Eepi Chaad and Nyssa Juneau, Vote in TX first launched in 2020 as a vehicle to share both voter plan information and down ballot issues prior to the presidential election. In 2022, Vote in TX will focus on sharing new changes to voter access as well as issues specific to the 2022 midterm election.”
Additionally, the online-only platforms break down accessibility barriers, increases interest among audiences, and invites 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 www.houstontx.gov/culturalaffairs 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. In short, HAA helps artists and nonprofits be bold, productive, and strong.