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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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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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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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Stories Of A Workforce

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Photo: Alexander's Fine Portrait Design

Tudor Gallery, Julia Ideson Building, 550 McKinney Street

September 2, 2014 – January 31, 2015

HAA Folklife + Civic Engagement’s exhibition Stories of a Workforce: Celebrating the Centennial of the Houston Ship Channel explored the diverse culture, heritage, and lore of work associated with the Port of Houston and Houston Ship Channel by introducing the general public to the men and women who make up this massive workforce and considering the many changes thy have witnessed over the course of their careers.

The Port of Houston is the great hidden engine of Houston’s prosperity. It is hard to imagine an economic and occupational landmark of such size and importance, and yet so well concealed, as the Port of Houston. Stories of a Workforce: Celebrating the Centennial of the Houston Ship Channel endeavored to make the Port of Houston better seen, better heard and better known to the community it serves 

The exhibition was driven by interviews and stories collected through the Library of Congress-funded Working the Port project. Working the Port documented the voices of the men and women who have made their living in the occupations and industries found along the Ship Channel. From shipboard to shoreside and loading docks to the board rooms, interviews with industry workers, engineers, executives, merchant marines, marine biologists, environmental specialists, and international traders captured and explored the human experience of this massive complex – all through the words and experiences of individuals.

In addition to photo, audio and video installations, Stories of a Workforce: Celebrating the Centennial of the Houston Ship Channel featured maps, signage, memorabilia, banners, painted portscapes, ship models, work gear, logs and objects that enhanced and illustrated the story of this unique and diverse workplace. Additional components of the exhibition included: 

  • Touch screens to identify types of marine vehicles, their movement and activities in the Ship Channel;
  • Time-lapse photography that “piloted” the 52 miles of the ship channel day and night;
  • An archive of all of the original audio, photographic and video material from the Working the Port project and the exhibition;
  • Curriculum materials for outreach to area schools in advance of their fall 2014 semester;
  • Public programs including lectures, demonstrations, workshops, and storytelling sessions.

A fully illustrated exhibition catalog, Stories of a Workforce: Celebrating the Centennial of the Houston Ship Channel, was published, featuring excerpts from interviews and essays addressing exhibition concepts.


Presented in partnership with Houston Public Library and in collaboration with HGOco, the International Longshoremen’s Association Local 24, the Port of Houston Authority, Excargo Services, Schroder Marine Services Inc., Anchor Marine & Industrial Supply and Houston Public Media.


Stories of a Workforce was funded in part by the Library of Congress, the Houston Endowment Inc., the National Endowment for the Arts, the Susan Vaughan Foundation, the Port of Houston Authority, Humanities Texas, Excargo Services and Schroder Marine Services, Inc. Title sponsor of the exhibition was the Houston Pilots.


Eyes of the Port: A Lecture + Slide Show by Lou Vest

Wednesday, October 15, 2014, 6 p.m. 
Reading Room, Julia Ideson Building, 550 McKinney St.

Houston Pilot Lou Vest has become the eyes of the Houston Ship Channel through his comprehensive photography of its 50-plus miles. From container vessels to labor on the docks, his photos embrace both the vastness and the intimacy of the port as a workplace. A preview of HGOco’s “On This Muddy Water”: Voices from the Houston Ship Channel preceded the presentation. 

A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis in 1971, Lou Vest joined the Houston Ship Pilots Association in 1986. He began carrying a camera around in 2005 to document the experience of working on the Houston Ship Channel. Vest hopes to correct the fact that both the region and the nation’s people seem unaware of the busiest port in the United States

Kids' Day at Stories of a Workforce

Saturday, October 18, 2014, 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. 

Kids’ Day was a program for kids interested in exploring maritime life with activities such as tying fancy knots, telling stories, building model boats, trying on work clothes and cruising the Channel in miniature. Participants included Lorena Alvarez, George and Patrick Larrimer and Shanty Chor.

“On This Muddy Water”: Voices from the Houston Ship Channel

Auditorium, Julia Ideson Building, 550 McKinney St.
Presented by Houston Grand Opera/HGOco 
September 27, December 10, December 17,  2014;
January 7, 2015, January 21, 2015

Composer D. J. Sparr and Librettist Janine Joseph. 
HGOco is Houston Grand Opera’s unique initiative that connects HGO to the community through meaningful collaboration. They use words and music—the very essences of opera—to tell stories of those who call Houston home. HGOco infuses opera into the lives of Houstonians through performances in schools, workshops, lectures, student-only performances, vocal training programs, opera camps and the award-winning Song of Houston projects.

Elders of ILA 24, A Special Presentation

Wednesday, January 14, 2015, 6 p.m.
Reading Room, Julia Ideson Building, 550 McKinney St.
The story of International Longshoremen’s Association Local 24 is reflective of a lesser-known part of Houston’s port life and is a living testament to the dramatic shifts in socioeconomic conditions over the last 50 years. Individuals who experienced these changes shared compelling narratives.

The International Longshoremen's Association (AFL-CIO) is the largest union of maritime workers in North America, representing upwards of 65,000 longshoremen on the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, Great Lakes, major U.S. rivers, Puerto Rico and Eastern Canada. Organized in 1892 along the U.S. Great Lakes, the ILA is affiliated with the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations; the Canadian Labour Congress; and the world-wide International Transport Workers' Federation. Additionally, the International Organization of Masters, Mates and Pilots; the United Marine Division Tugboat Workers; and the New York State Supreme Court Officers are affiliated with the ILA.



The exhibition catalog for Stories of a Workforce: Celebrating the Centennial of the Houston Ship Channel is now available for purchase online and at the offices of Houston Arts Alliance (HAA), 3201 Allen Parkway, Suite 250, Houston, Texas, 77019, Monday - Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. While walk-up purchase is possible during office hours, it is preferable that you call 713.581.6123 and leave a message about your interest. The purchase price is $25 for copies picked up at the offices of HAA, $30 with shipping.

July 16
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