The Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs Awards $114,000 to Projects Promoting Tourism and Resilience

The Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs Awards $114,000 to Projects Promoting Tourism and Resilience



HOUSTON – The City of Houston Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs (MOCA) is awarding $114,000 in grants to 11 individuals and nonprofit organizations whose work furthers cultural tourism and resilience throughout the city of Houston.

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 has 3 rounds of application cycles this year and offers grants in three categories: neighborhood cultural destinations, conference tourism, and disaster resilience awareness. In addition to these funding categories, MOCA awards a small number of special community initiatives each year.

“Houston’s creative economy is important to the city, its residents, and to me,” says Mayor Sylvester Turner. “The City’s continued support and investments in the arts will be one of the many pillars of my legacy as mayor of Houston. These investments in the creative economy of the city are not only positive returns but have also built the Bayou City as one of the leading arts cities in the country and in the world and I am proud to see that happen under my leadership.”

The first round of the 2023 City’s Initiative grantees are:

Archaeological Institute of America Houston Society
«Archaeology Now and the Arab American Educational Foundation will create a film that documents the construction of a reed structure–a mudhif–from the marshes of Iraq, along with associated cultural programming presented over a six-month period at locations in Houston. Their structure and programming focus on the story of the Marsh Arabs, a diaspora community that exists in Houston.  The film will preserve knowledge of mudhif construction–currently only known to elders in Iraq–helping to preserve heritage, cultural identity, and community cohesion.  The film, along with accompanying photography and programming materials, will be deposited in an archive at Rice University.» This grant was awarded under the Neighborhood Cultural Destinations category.

Christy Poisot
“The Filipino American National Historical Society Conference is held every two years and Houston has been chosen for 2024.  As chair of the conference, author of the Filipinos in Houston book, Poisot wants to showcase Houston by lining up educational lectures, performances, a museum exhibit of local Filipinx artists, and food. The conference is targeted to take place in July 2024. 40+. chapters from all over the United States will converge onto the city to share their stories with Houstonians.» This grant was awarded under the Conference Tourism category.

Jennifer Lugo
Painting with sustainability in mind.  Art of Color Mural Fest is an environmentally sustainable mural festival using innovative CO2 absorbing paint taking place October 21, 2023, in the Heights. With donations of the venue and wall space provided by Eureka Heights Brew Co. and paint from The People’s CO2 company, they’re driven by climate change, arts, philanthropy, and inspiring community engagement with creative work by local, diverse muralists of varying ethnicities.» This grant was awarded under the Neighborhood Cultural Destinations category.

City’s Initiative grantee, Koffee with Keith
Koffee With Keith
“Koffee With Keith is hosting a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)-focused photo walk in Houston’s 3rd Ward this August 2023 called “Uniting Houston Through Art, Coffee, Equity, & Inclusion.” The event will include a photo walk and diversity, equity, and inclusion discussion through Houston’s 3rd Ward culminating at a gallery which will highlight local artists, offer free coffee, and host a DJ. They hope to bring together a diverse group of people to explore the neighborhood, capture meaningful images, & foster a sense of community & understanding”. This grant was awarded under the Neighborhood Cultural Destinations category.

José Hernández López
“The East End Echoes project will immerse listeners in the rich history and humanity of the Latinx community in Houston’s East End through a GPS-enabled soundwalk experience. By weaving together interviews with 1st, 2nd, and 3rd generation Latinx immigrants, live music performed by local musicians, and sound design, the project empowers East End residents to be the primary voices in sharing their stories, culture, and experiences with the wider community”.  This grant was awarded under the Neighborhood Cultural Destinations category.

Tali Morgulis
“A unique 90-minute multi-disciplinary experience will be created for the residents and visitors to the First Ward community at the Artz Houston studio in Spring Street Studios. Pianist Tali Morgulis will perform live, including familiar classical works and newly composed music by Houston-based composer Marcus Maroney. The musical performance will be blended with choreography by aerial artists and Artz Houston founder DeMarco Howard, who will lead his troupe of young Houston aerialists in a high-flying dance and aerial program spotlighting the vibrancy of the First Ward. 3-4 performances will be available to the public in February 2024”. This grant was awarded under the Neighborhood Cultural Destinations category.

Henry G. Sanchez
“TODOS is a bilingual, video-art project showing visual and performing artists of Latinx origin, explaining their roles as artists in society and how their emotional and internal feelings help them become more fulfilled citizens. Five scenes are segued with a philosophical dialog between the film’s narrator and a puppet as they debate about expansive human and civil rights that include internal feelings. TODOS was filmed within the facilities of the Holocaust Museum Houston and will host the screening”. This grant was awarded under the Neighborhood Cultural Destinations category.

Solel International
“You don’t need a QR Code, you just need the art! Scan their 3D Statues and murals or a print of them and get constant updates on disaster preparedness with their augmented reality phone application to the minute.” This grant was awarded under the Disaster Resilience category.

City’s Initiative – Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment
Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment
«Music is in the bloodline of the 5th Ward community. Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment wants to honor that musical legacy with a short-term mini-music museum in one of the former chapels in the neighborhood.» This grant was awarded under the Neighborhood Cultural Destinations category.

Houston Cinema Arts Society 
Houston Cinema Arts Society (HCAS) present the first annual Business of Film Vendor Fair in August, 2023, exhibiting local and national production companies and equipment rental houses while featuring speakers from film, television, digital media, legal, and financial professions to discuss and provide information about the business-side of filmmaking in informative classes and breakout sessions. The Business of Film Vendor Fair intends to provide an open forum where professionals involved in all aspects of production can meet, greet and engage with representatives from Houston’s film industry, including partners Southwest Alternate Media Project (SWAMP), International Entertainment Partnership (IEP), and more. This grant was awarded under the Conference Tourism category.

Jesus Medel 
Medel will collaborate with Museo Guadalupe Aztlan (Houston’s only Chicano/Native American museum founded in March 1994), to accomplish these goals: (1) create a marketing plan to elevate the Museo to Houston’s international, cultural tourists sector; (2) digitize post-custodial collections of documents of surviving 60s and 70s periods of Native American and Chicano publishing houses; (3) create a first-ever inventory of the museum’s Mexican indigenous folk art collection; and (4) market the museum’s touring exhibits at international expos.” This grant was awarded under the Neighborhood Cultural Destinations category.

For more information on past grantees and to stay up to date with grantees and news related to grants, sign up for the Houston Arts Alliance Newsletter.

Organizations, artists, and creatives interested in applying to City’s Initiative to support their arts and cultural work should apply to the 2023 Grant Cycle launching on September 1st, 2023.

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.
In short, HAA helps artists and nonprofits be bold, productive, and strong.

To learn more about HAA, visit and follow us on Facebook /houstonartsalliance & Instagram @HoustonArtsAlliance.