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. As most of our funding comes from the City of Houston Hotel Occupancy Tax, grants are awarded for the encouragement, improvement, and application of arts and culture to promote Houston as a cultural destination. Grants are available for all artistic disciplines, including music, theater, dance, visual arts, cinema, literary arts, folk arts, and contemporary photography plus cultural centers, heritage associations, and festivals.
The majority of our grants are specific to 501(c)3 nonprofit arts and cultural organizations, although small grants are available to other nonprofits that present or produce arts programs or events in our service area consistent with the promotion and enhancement of Houston and Harris County as a cultural destination.
In addition, HAA invests in capacity building for arts organizations that aspire to grow, providing knowledge and organizational development through best practices and mentorship. The Capacity Building Initiative is entirely funded through private donations.
HAA also provides grants to individual artists seeking support for the development and presentation of new artistic works, which in turn advances Houston's reputation as a vibrant creative hub and a destination for cultural tourism. HAA is one of the few arts agencies in the nation that still provides support to individual artists.
Applications for these grants are reviewed by external peer review panels, comprised of inclusive groups of artists, arts administrators, finance professionals, business people, community volunteers and others, selected for their expertise and objectivity and reflective of the diversity of our community.
HAA utilizes a distribution formula to determine its grantmaking budget. Since our inception in 2006, the following formula has been used to distribute our allotment of HOT funds:
- 81% - General Operating Support/Expansion Grants
- 7% - Capacity Building (Accelerator + Sustainability Grants)
- 5% - Individual Artist Grants
- 5% - Arts Project Grants
- 2% - Incubator Grants
Although the actual amount of funds awarded each year varies based on fiscal year HOT revenues, this formula remains consistent.
In fiscal years where HOT funds are higher than projected, funds may be directed to optional grant categories (such as Arts Marketing Grants). In fiscal years where HOT funds are less than projected, the actual amount for General Operating Support/Expansion Grants is proportionately reduced to reflect the decrease in HOT funds. In cases of an unanticipated reduction in HOT funds, a grant category may be temporarily suspended until revenues increase.
GRANTS PROGRAM COMMITTEE
Louise Upshaw-McClenny, Chair