Houston Institute for Culture presents events in city-wide public venues, including Miller Outdoor Theatre, Discovery Green, the Hobby Center, and area university theaters. Annual events include Carnival Connection, Houston's Juneteenth Celebration and Celebrate Houston!
From classical Indian dance in Rice University's Hamman Hall to the presentation of international documentary films in UH's Cullen Performance Hall, Houston Institute for Culture has presented numerous special opportunities for citywide audiences, with an emphasis on reaching unexpected or under-exposed audiences.
The events provide quality of life benefits to many communities that would not have access to high caliber arts and cultural activities, while expanding opportunities for artists and preserving cultural traditions. The events provide increased cultural exchange and greater cultural experience and understanding. Many of the events serve the economic development goals of the city and state by attracting visitors to the city and providing opportunities for small businesses and cultural artists.
Carnival Connection explores the customs and historic relationships between carnival traditions in the Caribbean, Latin America and the Gulf Coast. The month-long celebration kicked off in March 2011 with a series of cultural exchange events, lectures and workshops presented by award-winning artisans, musicians, dancers and folklorists. Highlights include a photo exhibit, "Carnaval Popular" by Mariano Hernández, and a screening of "Colores del Carnaval Dominicano", a documentary film made by Houstonians Rubén Durán and Donna Pinnick over three years in the Dominican Republic. It culminated at Miller Outdoor Theatre on March 27 with an exciting performance of Dominican folkloric and carnival dance and Brazilian samba music.
Carnival Connection (Conexión Carnaval) is an initiative that will grow over the next few years in Houston to be an exciting international event for all Houstonians. The educational and fun series will involve many local and international carnival organizations in its planning and presentation over the years. By presenting the many diverse carnival traditions of the Caribbean, Latin America and the Gulf Coast, Carnival Connection will develop greater cross-cultural experience and represent the international interests of Houston and its people, while bringing many artists and visitors to Houston. Broad scale cultural exchange activities are being planned with cultural ministries, consulates, museums and humanities boards, including the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities.
Carnival Connection is presented by Houston Institute for Culture with the support of the City of Houston, Houston Arts Alliance, Houston Community College, the Texas Commission on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Houston's Juneteenth Celebration
Juneteenth commemorates the end of slavery in Texas. It ranks among the most significant historic events that originate in the Houston-Galveston region. The celebration is growing in popularity across the Gulf Coast and the United States. Juneteenth began on June 19, 1865, two months after the end of the Civil War, when Major General Gordon Granger read General Order No. 3 in Galveston proclaiming, "Slaves are free." As a celebration of freedom, Juneteenth is honored in many of the same ways as July 4th - with family get-togethers, cookouts and live music.
Houston Institute for Culture presents Houston's Juneteenth Celebration annually in Houston's largest public venue, Miller Outdoor Theatre, with support from the City of Houston through the Miller Theatre Advisory Board, Texas Commission on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts. The event features the highest caliber of traditional African American music to preserve the legacy of blues, jazz, brass band and zydeco music.
The annual event attracts 8,000 to 9,000 people to Miller Outdoor Theatre in Hermann Park annually. The diverse audience is more than fifty percent African American, with the rest being from all backgrounds. It spans all generations and comes from all over the city and across the nation.
The event attracts significant press in Houston and the around the state, including radio, television and entertainment publications, reaching more that 100,000 people. Smithsonian magazine once called Houston's Juneteenth Celebration the "Number 3 Hotspot in the Nation" in a feature about summer festival destinations.
Celebrate Houston! celebrates the city's diversity and builds a positive future through education. With its emphasis on Houston artists and traditions, it brings together live music and dance performances, cultural arts workshops, and art and food vendors, as well as organizations with educational missions and services that help make Houston communities better.
Celebrate Houston! features diverse music and dance performances, including Creole, Jazz, Soul, Gospel, and Tejano music. The event presents unique traditions of area communities, such as custom lowrider cars and bikes, and the religious arts and festival activities of regional Asian temples. It features innovative products like electric cars and green cleaners, along with media exhibits about area cultural and social interests. Youth artists and adult media makers present creative views of Houston and surrounding areas. There are workshops on local cultural interests, such as accordion building and the history of regional music, which are presented by local authors and artists in a format similar to the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. Celebrate Houston! additionally provides workshops by local authors and musicians in area schools.
Celebrate Houston! kicked off in 2009 on the Tlaquepaque Market Plaza in the historic East End with a reunion concert by Houston's legendary world music group The Presidents, the Grammy-nominated Sister Sister, and many award-winning Houston bands.
As the flagship event in the founding and establishment of the Houston Museum of Culture, Celebrate Houston! will grow to serve tens of thousands of Houstonians and visitors to our city.