Wendy Montoya Cloonan, Paula Mendoza, Geraldina Interiano Wise, Council Member Karla Cisneros

Latino arts initiative awarded up to $1 million from Houston Endowment

Phase 1 kicks off the planning of a First-Class Latino Cultural & Visual Arts Complex in Houston

Houston Endowment, a private philanthropic institution dedicated to a thriving Greater Houston, recently awarded up to $1 million to Advocates of a Latino Museum of Cultural and Visual Arts & Archive Complex in Houston, Harris County (ALMAAHH). The investment will support the planning phases of the initiative to create a first-class Latino cultural and visual arts complex in Houston. The initial phase will include outreach, learning, listening, connecting stakeholders — such as Latino arts groups  —  as well as connecting to potential consumers and users to create a community-driven roadmap that will help make the project a success.

“We have a long-standing commitment to Houston’s vast arts scene as it can uniquely capture the stories and traditions of our city’s residents,” said Houston Endowment President and CEO Ann Stern. “We’re proud to support the community’s efforts to establish a new cultural asset that will amplify the experience of Houston’s Latino traditions.”

“We have the unapologetically large dream of creating a home for the diverse, robust, and authentic culture of Latinos in Houston. To showcase and grow opportunities for Latino artists and artisans, our culinary arts as well as performing arts is a winning strategy for cultural equity and economic opportunity for Latinos. This will be our gift for all Houstonians,” said Geraldina Interiano Wise – Artist, Board Chair of ALMAAHH.

Phase 1 activities will include in-depth research into available resources and community needs, input from stakeholders and community members through focus groups and town hall meetings, and the creation of a roadmap for the next steps. Concurrently there will be research and benchmarking institutions around the state and country to learn not only what is the ecosystem of Latino arts but also to launch future-forward ideas on breaking open the museum model to better serve Latinos in an authentic and inclusive way.

Phase 2 is expected to focus on feasibility studies and site analysis of a few different locations, the creation of a master and urban plan, architectural design, and programming of the complex. The focus will be to serve local needs while also becoming a world-class destination for visitors.

Phase 3 will focus on the construction of the complex, which ALMAAHH leadership envisions will become a new tourist destination and will help elevate Houston as a national hub of Latino culture.

ALMAAHH’s vision has already received enthusiastic support and recognition from prominent Houston-area leaders. Though the first phase of the initiative is just beginning, support from the City of Houston already has included $40,000 in seed money from Council Member Karla Cisneros and $110,000 from Council Member Robert Gallegos, with Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner’s support. Harris County Commissioner Adrian Garcia is lending his support in identifying potential Harris County land for the complex.

Community support also has been very strong. Spearheaded by co-chairs Paula Mendoza and Wendy Montoya Cloonan, Cien Latinos por la Cultura, ALMAAHH’s first fundraising campaign, concluded successfully. The grassroots campaign gave the community an opportunity to help get the initiative off the ground by providing seed money. The goal was to reach 100 donors, which was exceeded, with the campaign raising nearly $100,000.

In addition, a community celebration was held recently, bringing together Houston’s Latino community, art lovers, artists, public officials, heads of major institutions & philanthropy, and Latino donors to officially kick-off initiative activities. The Board of Directors was introduced, Board Chair of ALMAAHH – Geraldina Interiano Wise- shared the Board’s vision and next steps in this endeavor. The Co-Chairs gave testimonials as to why creating a place for our shared Latinidad is important, and donors of the Cien Latinos por la Cultura campaign were spotlighted. Mayor Turner and Council Members Cisneros and Gallegos spoke at the event, expressing their support for the initiative.

For more information about the initiative to create a first-class Latino cultural and visual arts complex in Houston and sign up to get involved or receive updates, please visit almaahh.org.

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Advocates of a Latino Museum of Cultural and Visual Arts & Archive Complex in Houston, Harris County (ALMAAHH) is dedicated to creating a state-of-the-art cultural and visual arts complex in Houston that will showcase, preserve, and expand Latino arts creating growth opportunities locally and nationally. For more information or to sign up for updates, visit almaahh.org.

About Houston Endowment
Houston Endowment Inc. is a private philanthropic institution that enhances the vibrancy of greater Houston and advances equity of opportunity for the people who live here. Jesse H. and Mary Gibbs Jones established Houston Endowment in 1937 to help create a community where the opportunity to thrive is available to all. Visit houstonendowment.org.

Photo (from the left): Wendy Montoya Cloonan, Council Member Karla Cisneros , Paula Mendoza, and Geraldina Interiano Wise.
Photo Credit: Adelante Productions.

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