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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

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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Dialogues

As the designated, nonprofit local arts and culture agency, Houston Arts Alliance provides a public forum for arts and culture issues that our relevant to our community. Throughout the year, Houston Arts Alliance hosts conversations and panel discussions that are free and open to the public. HAA also periodically convenes the arts and culture field for special opportunities important to the sector.

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Research

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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News

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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Monday, July 31, 2017
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Tuesday, August 15, 2017
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Sacred Songs, Sacred Sites


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Photo courtesy of Houston Arts Alliance.

Houston is a remarkably diverse city — and in no domain of city life is that diversity more apparent than in its faith communities. Both the long-lived communities of Houston, as well as more recent immigrants to the city, have sought membership in churches, mosques, temples and the like. These institutions foster not only religious traditions, but also resilient aspects of cultural, national, and ethnic identity. It is not surprising, then, that these communities are repositories of rich traditions of music, song and dance, storytelling and celebration, architecture and adornment, object and altar making, and foodways. Sacred Songs, Sacred Sites, a project of Folklife + Traditional Arts, worked with a wide range of these faith communities to identify distinctive traditions and find respectful ways to share them with the public in a series of public programs. Sacred Songs, Sacred Sites comprised six months of programming exploring these themes, including a concert, exhibition, tours, a lecture series and workshops. Click the listings below for more information on each.

PARTNERS
Produced in collaboration with the Fifth Ward Baptist Church, St. Basil the Great Greek Orthodox Church, Art League Houston, Hobby Center for the Performing Arts and Rothko Chapel.

SPONSORS
Sacred Songs, Sacred Sites was funded in part by Houston Endowment Inc., National Endowment for the Arts, Interfaith Ministries, His Highness The Aga Khan Council for the USA and Sara and Bill Morgan.

 


VOICES OF THE SPIRIT: A CONCERT PROGRAM

Friday, November 5, 2010
Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, Zilkha Hall

Voices of the Spirit attracted spirited audience of 250 people, from a variety of religious and cultural traditions, to enjoy sacred music from four of Houston's religious communities. All of the performers were local artists who have spent their lives immersed in these traditions, performing them for their communities and invigorating them with spirit and soul. This first installment of the program showcased joyous Mariachi mass music, ecstatic Sufi singing, breathtaking Jewish cantorial music and foot-stomping African-American gospel. More information on each of the performers is included below.

Mariachi Norteño, a beloved ensemble from St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, shared selections from the Mariachi Mass they have performed at the parish every Sunday since the late 1960s. Guided by the legendary Father Patricio Flores, who later became the first Mexican American Archbishop, Mariachi Norteño is very possibly the first group to play this special musical version of the Mass in the United States.

Ali Durrani, a powerful singer of a style of Sufi music known as Qawwali, was born in Britain to Pakistani parents. After returning to their homeland, he had the opportunity to study with the world renowned master Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. In his teens, he traveled alone to Houston and has since made a career in music and sound production. Accompanied by tabla, guitar, bass and percussion, Ali sings and plays harmonium, covering a remarkable repertoire of improvisatory ragas. 

Cantor Vadim Tunitsky has been the musical leader of services at Temple Emanu El for over 20 years. A native of Russia, this extremely talented violinist studied in New York before moving to Houston. In addition to being recognized as one of Houston’s leading cantors, Tunitsky has recorded extensively and performed worldwide. For this program, he was accompanied on piano by Yanina Didyk.

Kathy Taylor, a lifelong Houstonian, began singing in church as a child. At age 11, she was hired by Mount Horeb Baptist Church to perform the only two songs she knew from beginning to end. Her performance was so powerful that the church brought her back every week for the next five years. Now the Minister of Music at Windsor Village United Methodist Church, she oversees their comprehensive music, dance and theatre program. For this program, Taylor was accompanied by Favor, her vocal ensemble.

ONSITE/INSIGHT: TOURS OF FOUR HOUSTON-AREA RELIGIOUS INSTITUTIONS

Saturday-Sunday, February 26 - 27, 2011
OnSite/InSight presented a rare opportunity to experience the visual, song, story, architectural, and food traditions of four different religious institutions at their places of worship. Spread over two days, Houstonians enjoyed an informal program at each institution showcasing artistic traditions unique to each community. The following institutions opened their doors to fellow Houstonians.


Chinmaya Prabha Mission 
The Chinmaya Mission in Southwest Houston is part of a worldwide network established by Swami Chinmayananda to teach Hindu scriptures and worship practices. Chinmaya Prabha was founded in 1987 for studies of Hindu scriptures. In 2007 a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva was added. The spacious campus is divided by a courtyard with a garden and manicured grass lawn. The courtyard is anchored on each end by the temple and the community building. Each of these structures is decorated at their entryways with brightly-colored, hand-painted rangoli – traditional geometric designs that express devotion and herald special occasions.


The Shiva temple is an outstanding, elevated octagonal structure, entirely enclosed in glass, and topped with a sleek black dome known as a lingam. It is here where pujas, or worship ceremonies, are conducted. 
Across the courtyard, the Mission’s community facility hosts Sunday activities including classes and sermons, music and cultural programs, religious and language curricula. Kids gather in classrooms, while adults sit and listen to discourses that explain different facets of Hindu scriptures. Bhajans are sung in praise of the Lord to the steady and meditative beat of the tabla and the chime of the manjiras. By the afternoon, all come together to visit and share an aromatic, vegetarian Indian lunch.
Vietnam Buddhist Center 


A gigantic 72-foot statue of Quan Am overlooks Synott Road letting devotees know they have arrived at the Vietnam Buddhist Center. The Center came about when a group of Vietnamese students, inspired by the teachings of the Venerable Thich Nguyen Hanh, invited him to visit Houston in 1989.  In response to their request, he and his followers established the Center as a place for Buddhist teaching and to foster understanding of Vietnamese culture.


The Center grounds are full of structures and statues that include a community hall, monks’ quarters and educational buildings. The centerpiece is the Dharma Hall, a site for weekly talks and regular chanting by resident monks. The altar, dedicated to the Buddha, is adorned with generous offerings of fresh fruit and flowers. At the back of the hall is a space dedicated to commemorating the recently deceased.
The Center is especially well-known for hosting an annual festival dedicated to the Bodhisattva Quan Am, who is venerated for her compassion and loving kindness. The festival attracts as many as 10,000 people every year over the course of a weekend in March.
Ismaili Jamatkhana and Center 


The Ismaili Jamatkhana and Center in Sugar Land, Texas was opened in 2002, in the presence of His Highness the Aga Khan, spiritual leader of the Shia Ismaili Muslims. Within a contemporary context, and in harmony with its immediate environment, the architectural vision for the Center makes a statement about Islamic architecture and expresses Islamic values, ethics and attitudes in a built form.
The word Jamatkhana, meaning house or place of gathering, has its roots in both Arabic and Persian languages. Around the world, Ismaili Centers are symbolic markers of the permanent presence of the Ismaili community and represent the confluence between the spiritual and the secular in Islam. Architecturally unique, each building incorporates spaces for social and cultural gatherings, intellectual engagement and reflection, and for contemplation of and the search for spiritual enlightenment.


In addition to a prayer hall where members of the Ismaili community gather for daily prayers, the Center also hosts events such as educational lectures, information seminars, special tours and interfaith dialogue.


Congregation Brith Shalom 
Set back from the street and housed in a mid-century modern structure, Congregation Brith Shalom blends readily into its Bellaire neighborhood. Its quiet and groomed exterior contrasts with the immense commitment and warmth that emanates from its membership.
Since 1959, this egalitarian Conservative synagogue has fostered an intimate spiritual community with strong ethical underpinnings and a commitment to personal growth and Jewish education. Children are encouraged to participate in all facets of synagogue life. Adult congregants actively participate in many ways – most notably, by building many aspects of the sanctuary, creating the ark and bimah covers, crafting beautiful stained glass windows and constructing a traditional chuppah.


Torah chanting and music inform all activities at Congregation Brith Shalom. Cantorial singing and congregational participation pervade the Shabbat ceremonies and foster an intense sense of community among worshippers. Shabbat services on Saturday morning carry over into opportunities to socialize, break bread, sing and celebrate.

SEEING THE UNSEEN: THE FOLK ARTS OF HOUSTON'S FAITH COMMUNITIES AN EXHIBITION

March 31 – June 30, 2011
Houston Arts Alliance, Alliance Gallery


Seeing the Unseen: The Folk Arts of Houston’s Faith Communities explored Houston’s faith communities and their artistic traditions. Through photographic documentation of the sacred spaces and ritual events of diverse religious communities, Seeing the Unseen shared visible and artful manifestations of religious life in the Houston metropolitan area.


The exhibit took a closer look at the architecture of religious institutions, traditional attire worn by congregants, indigenous art and objects used in a devotional role; the coming together of community members to celebrate; and the ritual and culture of processions followed by many communities in the greater Houston area. 


Photographers represented in the exhibition were Debra Ham, Ananta Patel, Tracey Rubio and Regina Vigil. All documentation was conducted in 2010-2011.

LECTURE SERIES

Altars and Offerings: The Art of Religious Devotion

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Dr. Kay Turner, New York University and the Brooklyn Arts Council

Folklorist Dr. Kay Turner has studied domestic, festival, and memorial altars for many years. Her lecture, with photos, will explore a range of altar traditions, highlighting the altar’s history, aesthetics and unique function as a site for communication with the dead and the divine. Dr. Turner is the author of Beautiful Necessity: The Art and Meaning of Women’s Altars and essays including, “Home Altars and the Arts of Devotion,” and “Voces de Fe/Voices of Faith: Prayers and Petitions.”  

 

Dr. Kay Turner has a Ph.D. in Folklore and Anthropology from University of Texas, Austin. She is currently the Folk Arts Director at the Brooklyn Arts Council (BAC) and a faculty member in the Performance Studies Program at New York University. Among her published work is 'Beautiful Necessity: The Art and Meaning of Women's Altars', which explores the home altar tradition in the Texas Mexican community. At the BAC, she is presently working on Black Brooklyn Renaissance, a year -long cultural program.

Altars and Offerings: The Art of Religious Devotion

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Dr. Kay Turner, New York University and the Brooklyn Arts Council

Folklorist Dr. Kay Turner has studied domestic, festival, and memorial altars for many years. Her lecture, with photos, will explore a range of altar traditions, highlighting the altar’s history, aesthetics and unique function as a site for communication with the dead and the divine. Dr. Turner is the author of Beautiful Necessity: The Art and Meaning of Women’s Altars and essays including, “Home Altars and the Arts of Devotion,” and “Voces de Fe/Voices of Faith: Prayers and Petitions.”  

 

Dr. Kay Turner has a Ph.D. in Folklore and Anthropology from University of Texas, Austin. She is currently the Folk Arts Director at the Brooklyn Arts Council (BAC) and a faculty member in the Performance Studies Program at New York University. Among her published work is 'Beautiful Necessity: The Art and Meaning of Women's Altars', which explores the home altar tradition in the Texas Mexican community. At the BAC, she is presently working on Black Brooklyn Renaissance, a year -long cultural program.

WORKSHOPS/LECTURE-DEMONSTRATIONS

Global Gospel: African Roots, American Sounds

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Fifth Ward Baptist Church

 

Writing the Icon

Sunday, April 10, 2011

St. Basil the Great Greek Orthodox Church

 

Calligraphy and the Call

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Art League Houston

 

The Raga in Hindu Music
Sunday, June 26, 2011
Rothko Chapel

COVERAGE

July 16
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