Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs awards $90,900 to artists and organizations promoting tourism and resilience

City hall press release

Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs awards $90,900 to artists and organizations promoting tourism and resilience

Artist Thomas Tran

July 29, 2022 — The City of Houston Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs (MOCA) is awarding $90,900 in grants to nine individuals and nonprofits focused on promoting cultural tourism and resilience in the city.

The funds were awarded by City Initiative, a competitive grant program administered by the Houston Arts Alliance (HAA) and funded by a portion of the city’s hotel occupancy tax.

The program is open four times a year and offers grants in the following three categories: cultural neighborhood destinations, conference tourism and resilience education. In addition to these funding categories, MOCA awards a small number of special community initiatives each year.

“The The city initiative allows local artists and organizations to showcase their work to our residents and visitors,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner. “I congratulate the recipients for their dedication to the arts and the cultural vitality of Houston.”

Here are the latest The city initiative beneficiaries:

  • From the Camera Society of Texas: DACAMERA hosts Houston SUMMERJAZZ, a two-day event activating the downtown theater district with national jazz artists Jazzmeia Horn, Grammy-nominated Texas singer; Latin Grammy-nominated Cuban-born percussionist and bandleader Pedrito Martinez; and Grammy-nominated saxophonist Joshua Redman. Representing local jazz talent, Jalen Baker Trio, the first resident jazz band of DACAMERA’s Young Artist Program, and Houston-based Chilean-American jazz pianist José-Miguel Yamal, represent local jazz talent. The festival is a mix of concerts and jazz events. (This grant was awarded in the Neighborhood Cultural Destinations category.)
  • Diaz Institute of Music: The Diaz Music Institute presents programs in various venues around the city to provide community engagement for the arts and build audiences in underrepresented and underserved areas in the arts. This grant made it possible to extend public concerts to neighborhoods in the city. (This grant was awarded directly by the Mayor of Houston as a special community initiative.)
  • Houston Latin Film Festival: Houston Latino Film Festival’s Dia De Los Muertos will be a day-long event at Midtown Arts & Theater Center Houston (MATCH) that will host screenings of Dia De Los Muertos-centric short and feature films from local and international filmmakers. Other programs include an art market inside the MATCH gallery of local artists and vendors to promote their artwork alongside the Dia De Los Muertos theme as well as panels, Q&A and workshops. (This grant was awarded in the Conference Tourism category.)
  • Jesus Medel: Medel wishes to offer four living history bus tours focusing on Chicano-Native American cultural collaborations, showcasing their artistic spaces (murals, community centers, art incubators, etc.), particularly those who experienced humble beginnings in the 60s and 70s in Houston. Medel’s goal is to engage cultural tourists and residents in experiencing Houston’s cultural identity. (This grant was awarded in the Neighborhood Cultural Destinations category.)
  • Thomas Tran: Tran will create a Vietnamese cultural mural (or triptych) to be unveiled at NRG Park during Viet Cultural Fest 2022. Ideas and concepts will explore what it means to be Vietnamese American today through in-depth conversation and community interviews Houston local. (This grant was awarded in the Conference Tourism category.)
  • My Connect community: Building on the highly successful Gulfton Story Trail of larger-than-life murals, their project will employ artists to create a series of METRO retaining wall murals that will enhance newly created bus stops and bike paths, provide visual reminders of safety, and also artistically represent the diversity of the Gulfton neighborhood. My Connect Community hopes a series of dynamic public service announcements along Hillcroft will grab attention and give drivers pause as they gaze at the many road users. (This grant was awarded in the Neighborhood Cultural Destinations category.)
  • South Asian Folk Arts Council: “Kabir in Qawwali – Concert and Discourse” is a series of concerts and community dialogues aimed at honoring the Desi community (also known as South Asian Americans). Kabir Das, a 15th century poet, is loved by many, especially Hindu, Sikh and Muslim communities. Riyaaz Qawwali, made up of local South Asian musicians, has been commissioned for a short pilot of this program by the Society of Performing Arts in 2021. It will be a full 90-minute show, followed by a community talk . (This grant was awarded in the Neighborhood Cultural Destinations category.)
  • The STEM Foundation: The “STEAMtheBlock” event at Sunnyside will be held on 1.5 acres of STEM-owned land directly across from the 240-acre landfill where STEM is building a 50 MW solar farm. Their goal is to raise awareness of upcoming developments in the community and engage visitors in the educational, workforce, and economic development aspects of STEM work. Their vision is to bring the community together to embrace the future with a wall display of shipping containers and musical performances. (This grant was awarded in the Neighborhood Cultural Destinations category.)
  • Young Audiences INC of Houston: Healing Through Community Art is a social and emotional learning program that combines the uses of sandbox therapy and Chinese watercolor painting to teach young people about creative expression, collaborative planning, and cultural awareness. During this program, participants will use therapeutic sand art as a planning and design process to inform a collaborative community mural that will be created using Chinese watercolor. This program will take place in the fall of 2022 at the Chinese Community Center located in Alief Houston with local YAH Teaching Artist, Dr. Junrui Garcia. (This grant was awarded in the Neighborhood Cultural Destinations category.)

For more information on former beneficiaries, click here. To see upcoming events from past or late 2022 recipients, visit the frequently updated Cultural Events Calendar.

Artists and creatives interested in applying The city initiative to support their artistic and cultural work should apply for the launch of the 2022 grant cycle on August 2. For more information, please visit:

About the town hall of cultural affairs town hall
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 culture programs in the community, attract visitors, and leverage private investment. Learn more at and follow us on Facebook and Instagram @HoustonMOCA.

About the Houston Arts Alliance
Houston Arts Alliance (HAA) is a grassroots arts and culture organization whose primary work is to implement the City of Houston’s vision, values, and goals for its arts grants 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 special, privately funded projects to meet the needs of the arts community, such as disaster preparedness, 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.

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