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Houston

Expanding Equity and Transparency in Houston’s Arts Funding

Bloomberg Associates advised the City of Houston on redesigning its arts and culture funding program to better support institutions of all sizes.

About

This work has strengthened our systems because they reinforce our values and respond to community concerns. This new uniform grants application process recognizes the contributions of nonprofit organizations of all sizes.

Debbie McNulty, Houston Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs Director

Relevant Expertise

Advance a Vibrant Arts and Creative Sector

  • Grants and Funding Strategies

Modernize Municipal Systems and Processes

  • Contract Transparency
Houston challenge

Challenge

The City of Houston is dedicated to cultivating a vibrant and thriving arts scene throughout the city. In 2015, Houston released its Arts & Cultural Plan to ensure the efficient and effective use of City resources to support the arts and initiatives that celebrate Houston’s diverse artists and communities. Among the recommendations of the plan was the need to increase oversight and accountability in the allocation of Houston’s city-funded cultural grant program. The Mayor’s Office called on Bloomberg Associates to help reform their current funding practices and create a fair process for applicants and ensure that smaller organizations also receive support from the City.

Approach

Bloomberg Associates helped to analyze and reform the City’s funding practices by creating a single application, funding, and reporting process, with grant opportunities tailored for large organizations and for small and mid-sized institutions. The City’s funding contract was revised and established new monitoring and reporting guidelines to increase overall transparency.

Bloomberg Associates then worked with the Mayor’s Office to develop a communications strategy to garner support for the new system among the institutions most impacted by the changes to the funding program.

Impact

The revised funding process and contract for Houston’s arts and culture grant program was adopted by the City Council in December 2019 with a near-unanimous vote, representing a huge policy victory for the arts and culture community. The new process benefits a larger number of organizations, and as a result, thousands more residents across Houston will gain access to the arts.

Houston impact

Metrics

$128M in continued funding for arts and culture over the next 5-7 years

400+ nonprofit arts and cultural organizations, artists, and projects supported in FY19