Of the many distinguishing characteristics that define Houston, the city's vibrant art culture rises to the top. Houston's various arts organizations and museums are not just known around these parts, but have garnered notoriety around the globe. But it's not just the art itself that sets Houston apart from other cities; it's the immense support the city has for the arts.
On July 28, Houston will host the first annual Houston Arts Resource Fair. The fair is being described as part networking and part education, featuring "professional development opportunities including arts funding, housing, arts marketing, audience development, health insurance services, capacity building and business resources." The topics will be applicable to members of the dance, theater, film, visual arts and music communities. Basically, if you are an artist in any medium, this fair is for you. Since it's common knowledge that all artists are starving, the entrance fee price tag is right on: It's free! You do have to register, though.
The Arts Resource Fair is the brainchild of a consortium of local organizations including Dance Source Houston, DiverseWorks, Houston Arts Alliance, Houston Theatre Alliance, Spacetaker/Fresh Arts, Southwest Alternate Media Project (SWAMP) and Texas Accountants & Lawyers for the Arts (TALA). The idea was hatched in an attempt to connect various arts organizations across the city with smart and helpful conversation and encourage a spirit of collaboration within the arts. There will be lots of art love going on and probably a lot of wild outfits and retro-looking eyewear.
So what prompted the event? There are many obvious reasons that the seven organizations saw a need for the Resource Fair, but they also honed in on a few specifics. "The seven organizations that have helped develop this fair noticed that there are three main topics that individual artists and organizations are looking to improve: health care, find funding and create better strategies for marketing," says Meghan Hendley, speaking on behalf of the Arts Resource Fair.
For inspiration, the group looked at how other cities held similar arts expos and aspired to emulate the impact such events have on the community. With that in mind, the Houston Arts Resource Fair aims to "create a professional development day that addressed key issues and would also raise awareness of the services they provide year-round to the arts community in and around Houston," says Hendley.
Of the many noted speakers who'll address the crowd, Dr. Stephen Klineberg will give the keynote. Klineberg is the Co-Director for the Kinder Institute for Urban Research at Rice University and the driving force behind the institute's proprietary Houston Area Survey, which is an annual research project. If you haven't seen Klineberg's presentation on the survey's findings, you are missing out. It's incredibly fascinating to hear how Houston has changed over the years and the direction in which the city is growing. For the Arts Resource Fair, Klineberg will be speaking on how this research pertains to the arts.
Other speakers who will impart their wisdom are Thomas Cott, Director of Marketing for Alvin Ailey Dance Company; Emily Gray, Program Director of Insurance at Fractured Atlas; Diem Jones, Director of Grants for Houston Arts Alliance; and David Lake, Grants Officer at Houston Endowment, among others. Additionally, there will be a host of arts-related vendors on hand such as Texans for the Arts, Art League Houston, Rice University Center for Philanthropy and Non-Profit Leadership, and many more.
Individual artists, arts organizations, volunteers for the arts, board members of arts organizations, business owners who support the arts, or really anyone interested in the arts community are encouraged to attend. In addition to the keynote and other main sessions, patrons can look forward to something the fair is calling a "smART bar," which gives artists the opportunity to meet with industry experts for quick, one-on-one sessions of real-world advice.
If all goes well, the Houston Arts Resource Fair could become an annual event. Hendley adds, "We look forward to engaging the community and hopefully encouraging our attendees to keep creating and expanding in the arts."
The Houston Resource Arts Fair takes place Saturday, July 28, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Jones Hall, The University of Saint Thomas, 3910 Yoakum. Register at houstonartsresourcefair.com .