The Houston City Council recently approved $2 million in relief funding for “creative businesses” that have taken financial hits as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Funded by the city’s allocation from the federal CARES Act, the program is open to more than 1,200 arts and cultural organizations within the city previously vetted by the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs (MOCA), according to a news release from the city.
Prior to the pandemic, the city said Houston’s arts and cultural attractions annually brought in anywhere from 11-16 million visitors to the region. The city said COVID-19 has forced the closure of hundreds of cultural organizations, impacting a sector that was a $1.1 billion industry and employed more than 25,000 people.
“The arts and cultural sectors have been hit incredibly hard by the pandemic and we need everyone to keep fighting to survive and be part of the city’s recovery,” Mayor Sylvester Turner said. “Houston would not be the vibrant city that it is without the many artists and organizations serving our community and making it a cultural destination like no other.”
The Houston Art Alliance (HAA) – a local arts and culture organization whose goal is to implement the city’s vision, values and goals for arts grantmaking and civic art investments – will be responsible for processing and ranking applications, the city said, as well as distributing the funds beginning in September.
HAA began sending out notifications of eligibility on Monday, and artists and organizations can also verify eligibility at HAATX.com/support-desk. Individual artists are eligible for up to $1,000 in relief, while nonprofit organizations will be eligible for up to $15,000 in relief.
“Over the last several years, MOCA has worked with HAA to update the grant processes to be more transparent and equitable,” MOCA director Deborah McNulty said. “The 2020 grant pool is the most diverse it has ever been, including 32 percent first-time applicants and 53 percent with projects, programs and overall missions that serve historically underserved communities.”
For more information about pandemic-related emergency financial help or the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs, community members can visit houstontx.gov/culturalaffairs or follow the office on Facebook and Instagram @HoustonMOCA.