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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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Capitalization Program

New Pathways for the Arts | Houston

Dramatic changes in today’s nonprofit arts and culture sector have placed new demands on our organizations. Presently, most nonprofits operate with overextended resources and consequently struggle to implement “next practices” – that is to say, innovative and adaptive ideas that are a distinct break from past practices and show promise in delivering new public value. The organizations that are continuing to flourish are those that are increasing their emphasis on innovation, making the most compelling case for their work through creative and adaptive thinking, and demonstrating true nimbleness in their response to change.

In response to these new needs, and to reinforce the adaptive work already underway in Houston’s arts and culture community, Houston Arts Alliance has contracted EmcArts to implement New Pathways for the Arts | Houston over a two-year period.


Program Description

New Pathways is a carefully crafted response to the specific and urgent needs of our local arts and culture organizations. Based on EmcArts’ successful work throughout the United States and Canada, the program will develop a learning community of up to 20 organizations for the sharing of “next practices”; stimulation of both new thinking and action; and promotion of organizational innovation and adaptive capacity.

The two-year program includes:

  • A series of six hands-on workshops exploring the real-life challenges of the cohort and building the capacity to adapt;
  • Three participant-led Innovation Forums centered on topics of their choosing, providing a platform for peer-to-peer learning and exchange;
  • On-site coaching to facilitate the adoption of new knowledge and practices, supported by micro-grants to encourage experimentation;
  • Incubating Innovation, an opportunity to engage in a year-long, in-depth exploration of a significant complex challenge involving the design and testing of an innovative response—guided by an EmcArts Lead Facilitator—and including prototyping grants
  • The opportunity to apply for Innovation Capital grants, providing further development and scaling of the innovation projects demonstrating potential long-term, transformative impacts.

This program is provided at no cost to participants.

For more information, contact Capacity Building Manager Amy Gibbs at 713.581.6122 or


Important Dates

Application Deadline: Thursday, November 17, 2016, 5 p.m.

Phase 1:
Thursday, December 15, 2016, 9 a.m. - 12 p.m. – Innovation Forum #1
Thursday, January 19, 2017, 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. – Workshop #1
Thursday, February 16, 2017 – Workshop #2
Thursday, March 16, 2017 – Workshop #3
Thursday, April 13, 2017 – Workshop #4
Thursday, May 11, 2017 – Workshop #5
Thursday, June 8, 2017 – Workshop #6
Thursday, June 29, 2017 – Innovation Forum #2

Phase 2:
September 2017 – Onsite Coaching and Incubating Innovation begin
April 2018 – Innovation Forum #3

Phase 3:
October 2018 – Application process opens for Innovation Capital grants

» Download the Information Packet
» Download the PowerPoint Presentation

For more information, email EmcArts Manager of Local Programs Louise Brooks at


Launch + Informational Meeting



Houston Endowment is generously providing the funding for this program.


Frequently Asked Questions


New Pathways programs have been successfully implemented in many cities across the United States over the last five years, including Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Denver, New Haven, New York City, Saint Louis and San Jose. New Pathways programs are currently active in the continental United States, Alaska and Canada (both Edmonton and Calgary, Alberta).

Recent participants report:
“We learned to question assumptions, think differently, be much more open-minded, and change behavior. The workshops and content excited us and came at such a perfect time of change within our organization; they sling-shot us forward with enthusiasm and tremendous energy.”

“People always say, ‘innovate or die.’ But how do you do it? We actually learned how to do it through EmcArts.We now know how to break it down into something manageable and measurable.”

“It was completely engaging - informative, provocative, exciting. There was no opting out.”


Active participation in an adaptive change program requires a commitment of staff time, energy and focus. Consistent attendance by a small team of three or four staff and board members at all workshops is required.

Participating organizations should have sufficient stability as well as staff and board capacity to engage fully in all of the required program elements. 

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