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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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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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January 22, 2016

HOUSTON (January 22, 2016) – As central as the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is to the identity of Houston and her citizens, the trail rides, which act as a highly anticipated prelude to the “main event,” still remain somewhat shrouded in mystery for most Houstonians. Perhaps the trail riders with the most fascinating traditions and folklore are our region’s African-American trail riders, who celebrate Texas’s black cowboy heritage not only at “rodeo time,” but year-round.

In recognition of these trail riders, Houston Arts Alliance’s Folklife + Traditional Arts program presents the exhibition/installation Winter Celebrations Part Three: Honoring Houston’s African-American Trail Riders, February 10 – 16, 2016, at MATCH, 3400 Main Street, Monday – Thursday, noon to 6 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, noon to 7 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.  The opening reception on Thursday, February 11, 2016, from 6 - 8 p.m. will feature food, drink and a zydeco dance with Marcus Ardoin and Da Zydeco Legendz. All events are free and open to the public.

The Texas Gulf Coast is home to a rich, black cowboying tradition. The counties that surround Harris —especially Waller, Fort Bend, Brazoria and those further south along the Coastal Bend — are still home to a thriving ranch economy. African-American cowboys helped build that economy, and it is this legacy that spurred the creation of the Rodeo’s black trail ride associations.

The Rodeo’s first African-American trail ride group was the Prairie View Trail Ride, founded in 1957 by Jamie Francie, Jr. Due to its success, the organization outgrew its camp sites and meeting places, and Francie encouraged fellow trail rider Fred Gray to start a second group in the southwest part of town. Noting that Brazoria County had a strong agricultural economy, he recommended that Gray focus his ride in that sector of the region. With that, the Southwestern Trail Ride Association was born.

The primary focus of the exhibition Honoring Houston’s African-American Trail Riders is the Southwestern Trial Ride. This group begins its ride, as most groups do, by hosting a huge celebration featuring zydeco music. Over the last 20 years, with the increase of the Creole population in this part of Texas and the music’s association with rural life, zydeco has become the signature music of the black trail rides.

Bank of America is the lead presenting sponsor for the entire Winter Celebrations series and for the free Family Day that was on January 18, 2016. Additional support is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, Southwest Airlines, the Houston Endowment, Sara and Bill Morgan.

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