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About Us

Houston Arts Alliance (HAA) is the local nonprofit arts and culture agency that enhances the city’s quality of life through advancing and investing in the arts and diverse cultural programming. The work of HAA encourages Houston’s development and shapes its global reputation by fostering tourism and supporting and promoting the city’s creative economy.

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Public Art

Creating public spaces for civic and cultural use requires artists, designers, architects, and the community to collaborate. By actively fostering these partnerships, both public and private, HAA’s Civic Art + Design program initiates, manages, and maintains public artworks throughout Houston. It serves a vital role as catalyst for change that generates a culturally relevant and rich environment for residents and visitors alike.

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Folklife + Civic Engagement

Houston Arts Alliance’s Folklife + Civic Engagement program identifies and honors the artistic and cultural traditions of the city’s tremendously diverse and various communities and works to address the needs of all residents through engagement, citizen-driven initiatives, and equitable community outcomes. The Folklife program has been in existence since 2010. The addition of Civic Engagement to its portfolio was enacted through an HAA bylaws change in 2016.

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Grants are a fundamental means of promoting excellence in the creative sector. On behalf of the City of Houston, HAA awards approximately 225 grants annually to nonprofit arts and cultural organizations and individual artists through a competitive grant allocation process.

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Capacity Building

Houston Arts Alliance provides voice and leadership through its support of arts organizations and individual artists with programs and services that help build and foster a vibrant and creative community—these programs and services help to ensure that the arts professionals’ creative contributions remain a vital part of community life across Houston and the region.

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Houston Arts Alliance continues to play an important role in arts and culture research projects, initiating and participating in studies that demonstrate the far-reaching impact of arts and culture on our economy and quality of life.

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Get Involved

Looking for a way to lend a hand? Investing in the arts and culture is an investment in the quality of life for all Houstonians. Join Houston Arts Alliance as a donor, member or volunteer!

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Houston Arts Alliance utilizes different vehicles to communicate with it diverse audiences, ranging from the city’s arts and culture community to residents to tourists. Find out more about HAA’s electronic newsletters and connect with us through social media. Our online Press Room provides resources for members of the media.

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Local Roots, Global Culture

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Fifth Ward Jam, 2011, Dan Havel and Dean Ruck, 3705 Lyons Ave. Photo: Debra Ham

This programming constitutes ongoing projects that presented visual and performance traditions from the city’s diverse communities – providing a window into the artistic traditions of its long-lived African American, Mexican American and Euro-ethnic communities, as well as newer international communities that have recently made Houston home. Local Roots, Global Culture addressed the region’s diversity by creatively presenting different traditions in a variety of presentational formats. Outcomes have included concerts, workshops, exhibits and the like.



October 1, 2011
Fifth Ward Jam, 3705 Lyons Ave.

Fifth Ward Jam is a piece of temporary public art created by Houston artistic team Dan Havel and Dean Ruck. The sculpture pays homage to the architectural and musical traditions of Fifth Ward Houston and was placed on a centrally located corner lot on the most important street leading into Fifth Ward, Lyons Avenue.

To introduce this new piece, artists and storytellers who have histories in the neighborhood—and perform in traditional styles associated with the history of the area—were invited to “launch” the piece. Family and friends gathered at the architectural artwork and unique pocket park on October 1, 2011 with performances that reflected the vibrant cultural roots of Fifth Ward. Presentations featured Texas Zydeco Prince Jabo, legendary Duke Peacock house guitarist Texas Johnny Brown, and Stella-nominated gospel quartet Endurance, among others.

Fifth Ward Jam was made possible with support from Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment Corporation, City of Houston's ReUse Warehouse, TIRZ 18 and the office of former Council Member Jarvis Johnson. Dedication activities were made possible with support from Wells Fargo, National Endowment for the Arts and Houston Endowment.

Houston Press: Gray: Artists turn bungalow into ‘Fifth Ward Jam’ installation


Sunday, November 27, 2011, 12 – 2 p.m.
Sunday, December 4, 2011, 12 – 2 p.m.
Sunday, December 11, 2011, 12 – 2 p.m.
Discovery Green, Grace Event Lawn

The highly successful Gospel on the Green! series returned in 2011 with some of Houston’s best gospel ensembles. The public was invited to bring blankets and lounge on the grass with family and friends while celebrating the holiday season with this hearty helping of African-American gospel music. Some of Houston’s best performing artists shared the spirit and soothed the soul, sending audiences into the new week with a musical blessing to remember.

Presented in collaboration with Discovery Green

Gospel on the Green! was made possible by KTSU, National Endowment for the Arts and Houston Endowment Inc.

Sunday, November 27, 2011, 12 – 2 p.m.
Lady Beatrice & Angelic Voices, a dynamic gospel group that sings simple songs with strong messages, filled the audience with holiday spirit on opening day.

Sunday, December 4, 2011, 12 – 2 p.m.
Powerhouse group Endurance, an old-school, Stella-nominated gospel quartet, had the audience up and moving in no time.

Sunday, December 11, 2011, 12 – 2 p.m.
Popular for their ability to sing various styles of music ranging from quartet to contemporary gospel, New Creation delivered holiday cheer infused with jazz, rhythm and blues.


Saturday, March 31, 2012, 7 p.m.
Houston Museum of African American Culture, 4807 Caroline St.

Global Gospel: African Roots, American Sounds celebrated three rousing styles of sacred music based in the African Diaspora. The program highlighted Houston-area musicians and congregations, including Stella-award nominees Endurance, the musicians of All Saints Nigerian Anglican Church and congregants from La Iglesia Garifuna Misericordia de Dios. Musicians discussed and demonstrated the cross-continental influences that were traded back and forth among these styles for decades.

Presented with the Houston Museum of African American Culture

Global Gospel: African Roots, American Sounds was funded in part by Houston Endowment Inc., National Endowment for the Arts and Wells Fargo Bank.

Endurance, a powerhouse of the Houston quartet scene, is a relatively young group by the standards of the style, but the group of locals is strictly old-school. Claude Cummings, Michael Robertson, Earl Sampson and Dave Botts rely on a rollicking, syncopated sound indigenous to the American South. They perform nationally and have produced multiple CDs.

Andrew Akele, music director at All Saints Anglican Church, brought a group of musicians that had worked with him during services at a large Nigerian church on Renn Road. Members of All Saints are mostly Igbo, an ethnic group based in the southeastern part of the country, and enjoy congregational music that spans from the standard Anglican hymnody to the highlife and soukous-inspired style of gospel that came about with the Africanization of the church.

Pastor Erick Suazo of Iglesia Garifuna Misericordia de Dios led a small Pentecostal congregation that worships and sings in Spanish and its native Garifuna. The Garifuna—descendants of Carib, Arawak and West Africans—have a distinctive culture, language and music. This community (most church members are originally Honduran) has settled in Houston over the last 15 years.


Sunday, April 22, 2012, 6 p.m.
Houston Museum of African American Culture, 4807 Caroline St.

Houston’s burgeoning immigrant population includes many different African communities. Like most Houstonians, members of these communities usually wear standard Western garb on a daily basis and in the workplace. However, for special occasions, especially ones that involve community gatherings, individuals often don traditional dress. Depending on national origin, ethnicity, even religion, garments and adornment communicate a variety of values – including aesthetics, identity, membership and pride.

The public was invited to join in an interactive workshop exploring and celebrating Ethiopian, Cameroonian and Nigerian traditions of artful dress and adornment. The Arts of Attire was an opportunity for these Houston communities to share a range of their traditions and “unpack” their significance for each other as well as the general public. The program, featuring Mary Onime, illustrated Nigerian gele tying; examples and explanations of Ethiopian men and women’s traditional dress led by Enguday Geberhiwot and Alem Imru; and a variety of ethnic and regional styles in Cameroonian dress presented by members of the Cameroonian American Cultural Organization of Houston.

Presented in collaboration with Houston Museum of African American Culture

The Arts of Attire was funded in part by the Houston Endowment, Inc., the National Endowment for the Arts, and Wells Fargo Bank.


Memorial Park, Spring 2013: Friday – Sunday, March 22 – 24, 2013
Downtown, Fall 2013: Saturday & Sunday, October 12 & 13, 2013

Focusing on the diverse musical traditions that find a home in Houston, Local Roots, Global Culture performances featured styles ranging from straight-ahead Texas honky-tonk and buoyant zydeco to Nigerian highlife and Huastecan music from Central Mexico. All performers were based in the Houston area and celebrated the music of their cultural community. For more information on participating musicians, see below.

Presented in collaboration with Bayou City Art Festival

Local Roots, Global Culture was funded in part by the Houston Endowment Inc., the National Endowment for the Arts and the City of Houston.

Mark Halata & Texavia / Accordionist and bandleader Mark Halata has been playing Czech dance music since he was a teenager. Growing up he visited the dance halls and church bazaars where the music continues to be popular to this day. The Texas Czech repertoire that he plays with Texavia is dominated by polka, waltzes and two-steps, with most of the songs sung in Czech. The group’s sound is heavy on the traditional, but like any respectable Texas polka band, they usually play a country tune or two.

Lady Beatrice Ward & Angelic Voices / A native of Lake Charles, Louisiana, Lady Beatrice Ward fronts one of the hottest quartets in Houston today. Her lead vocals are accompanied by the Angelic Voices, backed by a rock-solid four piece rhythm and blues ensemble. Known for their fluid a cappella singing and soulful gospel repertoire, Lady Beatrice Ward & Angelic Voices have carried the torch of gospel music since 1982.

Trio Control / This classical trio huasteco brings together a violin, a huapanguera (an 8-string rhythm guitar) and a jarana huasteca (a small 5-string guitar). Mexico has a vast array of musical styles associated with specific regions, and Son Huasteco, the music that Trio Control performs, is one of the most popular. The music is unique to the geographic region of the mountainous range known as La Huasteca and is characterized by driving minor chords and high nasal vocals. All three musicians learned to play at an early age and have, after arriving in Houston, continued to play the music from their native state of Hidalgo.

Texas Johnny Brown / Houston blues man extraordinaire Texas Johnny Brown was truly one of the legendary figures of both the local and national blues scenes. Though a native Mississippian, Brown began his professional career in Bayou City, playing in Amos Milburn’s band during the mid-1940’s. He recorded as a leader himself and also went on to play and tour with Ruth Brown, Junior Parker and Bobbie “Blue” Bland. His enduring impact on the Duke/Peacock Record label, where he served as studio guitarist, is heard on the recordings of these same artists during the 1950s and 60s. Brown also wrote unforgettable blues tunes, including Bland’s memorable hit, “Two Steps from the Blues,” and the classic “There Goes the Blues.”

Conjunto X / Conjunto X takes its name from the fact that all of its members are from Generation X. These men, however, have been making music for at least half of their lives. Self-taught musicians, they learned the musical style and traditional conjunto repertoire by admiring and imitating the playing of family members, close friends, and legendary musicians performing in the genre. Conjunto X plays regularly throughout the community at social and cultural events, local icehouses, and festival settings.

Melloh & The King’s Rhythms / Houston-based Melloh and the King’s Rhythms have played together since 2008. As a former guitarist for world renowned afro-pop artist Femi Kuti, Melloh pioneered the Nigerian sound in the Lone Star State after settling in the city. Whether playing highlife, juju, sakara, or afrobeat, Melloh’s band moves seamlessly among these popular genres, taking the stage at most of the major Nigerian events held in Houston and throughout the Southwest. This performance offered a rare opportunity for the public to experience the breathtaking soundscape of Nigerian music that Melloh & the King’s Rhythms perform.

Rajarajeshwary Bhat / A third-generation musician in the Carnatic tradition, Rajarajeshwary Bhat performs this style of devotional music associated with southern India. She was recruited by the Swarayalam Arts Forum in 2004 and moved to Houston to teach at the local Indian community’s request. Rajarajeshwary Bhat has taught students throughout the city and internationally, recently receiving a national teaching award for her work in North America. She is a world-renowned master in this genre of vocal music.

Disciples of Christ / Honoring a long family tradition of gospel music making, the vocalists in the Disciples of Christ are two sisters and their daughters. Sisters Arlene Bell and Shirley Benson grew up singing in the church and in a family group. As adults, they’ve carried the tradition on to the next generation by recruiting their daughters Shaniece Benson and Candice Jackson. These native Houstonians continue to share their music with audiences across Texas.

Mariachi Imperial / Three generations of musicians from the same family form the backbone of this venerable ensemble. Active for over three decades, Mariachi Imperial performs the classic repertoire of rancheras, boleros and baladas from the Mexican tradition. Founded by the Longoria family patriarch in Houston, the group cut its teeth the standard way, playing serenatas and quinceañeras at homes and churches across Houston. Now considered one of the finest mariachi bands in the city, the group has traveled the country and internationally with their music

Miss Leslie & Her Juke-Jointers / This ensemble delivers straight-ahead Texas honky-tonk in the Houston style, crafting songs and covering standards that reflect the heartbreak and heavy lifting of contemporary life. With Miss Leslie on fiddle and pedal steel guitar, the band’s sound is rough-hewn country sound with unpretentious, emotional lyrics. The ensemble’s last two CDs were lauded locally by the Houston Chronicle and nationally by Spin magazine.

Nick Gaitan & Umbrella Man / Headed up by local music icon Nick Gaitan, Umbrella Man is a quintessentially Houston band that mixes and matches the variety of Gulf Coast genres that find a musical home in this region. The group’s thumping bass, bright accordion and ringing steel guitar blend in surprising but always recognizable ways. Country, rockabilly, zydeco and conjunto are all part of the sound, the songwriting and the swinging, dance-oriented traditions that infuse their repertoire.

Step Rideau & The Zydecho Outlaws / A native of Southwestern Louisiana but a longtime Houstonian, Step Rideau is one of the strongest representatives of the nouveau zydeco sound. Fusing traditional la la music with the super urban vibe of contemporary Houston, Rideau performs at dance halls for large crowds who take the opportunity to dance the night away. A popular group on the Creole Catholic circuit of church dances, The Zydeco Outlaws play in Houston regularly but also throughout the Gulf Coast region.

CultureMap: Bayou City Art Festival shakes things up: A new approach to music makes for a better party
India Herald: Music at Tirumala and Downtown Center

July 16
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