Hello, Houston!

Houston Arts Alliance (HAA) is the city’s designated local arts and culture agency.



Dominique Estevez, Grants + Capacity Building Coordinator

Are you an individual artist with a project in mind? Are you looking for funding support? Houston Arts Alliance will be accepting applications in the coming weeksfor the creation of new work—and this is your opportunity to apply! We frequently get asked about this unique opportunity and want to share answers to some of the most common questions.

About the Individual Artists Grant Program:
Houston Arts Alliance (HAA) recognizes that a city's excellence in the arts is enhanced through the encouragement and support of local artists' creative endeavors. The Individual Artist Grant (IAG) seeks to support the development and presentation of new artistic works—by local Houston artists—to help advance our city's reputation as a cultural destination and a vibrant creative hub. Applications for these grants are reviewed by external, impartial peer review panels composed of artists, arts professionals and community volunteers selected for their expertise and objectivity. Since 2013, HAA has committed over $782,400 in funding to over 94 projects.  On an annual basis, HAA receives 100+ applications for this grant.

I have a project in mind, what should I do to prepare and submit an application?
READ THE GUIDELINES!  It will help guide you in filling out your application.  The scoring criteria is even outlined for you to answer each of the questions.  Each section will ask for a narrative, including outreach numbers and a budget.  Also, we have a staff of 4 who are willing to help review the application questions if need be. It is important to address the cultural tourism criteria, as majority of our funding is from the city’s Hotel Occupancy Tax (HOT).

Wait, what do you mean our project is funded by the Hotel Occupancy Tax?  What does that have to do with my project?
More than of HAA’s budget comes from the Hotel Occupancy Tax, which is tax collected by hotels. It is redistributed to HAA, the Theater District, the Museum District and the Miller Outdoor Theatre. Because the funds are public dollars and the purpose is to bring “heads to beds” in the city of Houston, artists must address how they plan to drive their marketing plan and reach audiences outside of Houston.  For example, articulate how will you bring people from Dallas to Houston to come to your show?  If they plan to go to your show, will they stay overnight?  Remember, HOT funds can fluctuate from year to year.  It is your job, as grantees of HAA, to drive that outreach through your work. 

What kind of work/artist does the IAG program support?

Some examples include:

  • A dance theatre project using different genres of dance, music, masks, spoken word and puppetry to tell folk tales from India about animals that think, talk, feel and interact with human beings.
  • A multi-movement Afro-Latino work for a jazz ensemble with extended percussion, strings, vocals and other instruments not typical of big band instrumentation, to be documented on CD and performed live in a musical celebration.
  • Studio exploration, development and fabrication of a new series of sculptures and drawings exploring the use of architectonic language. Also includes a site-specific installation.



What kind of projects does IAG program NOT support?

  • Interpretive work – This grant program in particular is focused around the creation of new work, as we invest in the artist’s growth as a creator and not as an interpreter of someone else’s work.  
  • Galas or fundraising events
  • Re-granting or scholarship opportunities
  • A project that has been in the works prior to the grant term
  • Entry fees to film festivals or travel outside the city of Houston
  • Students who are enrolled in a university working on a project  

Who is eligible for an IAG grant?
Practicing artists who are deeply engaged with their art form.  We have 2 categories in which you may apply – Emerging artists ($5,000) for artists with less than 4 years of experience and an established artist ($10,000) with more than 5 years of experience in their field.  Additionally, you must be a resident of the city of Houston.  You may find all the eligibility requirements in our guidelines on our website.

What do the panelists look for when reviewing applications?
The review criteria is pretty straight forward.  They seek a strong proposal that demonstrates artistic excellence, tourism impact, and a realistic budget.  Providing as much detail along with an outlined timeline is suggested. For more writing tips, check out our blog post from last year, as those items still stand.

Typically how many awards are given and in what amounts?
Depending on the amount of HOT funds available, we generally fund anywhere between 10 to 30 projects each year. It is a competitive process, but do not let that discourage you from applying. You may apply annually until you receive a grant! Practice makes perfect.

The application process seems intimidating, should I apply anyway?
Absolutely!  Even if it is your first time with no experience in applying for a grant, take advantage of the staff and resources that are offered to the community. Applicants may request comments and application scores if not selected for funding. Take advantage of this!

How do I get started?
We have an Application Workshop on Thursday, November 10th that we highly recommend that you attend!  There is more information about that on our website under “Grants for Individuals.”  We will have an IAG Open House that allows applicants to speak to staff about their idea or project.  More information on the Open House will be provided at the Application Workshop.  Registration will be available in November.

If you have questions about the application process feel free to reach out to the Grants department at grants@haatx.com