African American News

How One Houston Organization is Addressing Accessibility and Eradicating Local Arts Deserts

HOUSTONSept. 1, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Improving accessibility to art and culture has long been a challenge in America. Communities of color receive only 4% of all foundation arts funding, despite representing 37% percent of the population. Shuttered venues and funding limitations due to COVID-19 continue to create new barriers for underserved populations to experience the arts.

In unincorporated East Harris County, it can be challenging for residents to experience the joy of creativity, as the number of creative venues is more limited than in other parts of Houston. In fact, the area is considered an “arts desert” – an area in which arts programming is unavailable within a 20-mile radius. As the first and only venue of its kind in the neighborhood, The Harris County Cultural Arts Center (HCCAC) aims to be a family-friendly solution to the lack of arts accessibility in the area.

“The arts are essential to the healthy development of the mind, the body, and the soul, and are a means of understanding ourselves and others,” said Michelle Bonton, Executive Director of Harris County Cultural Arts Council. “We believe that one cannot fully benefit from the human experience apart from the arts and that the arts help break through cultural barriers and create a stronger, more connected, more just society.”

HCCAC believes kids exposed to the arts early and often have the greatest chance to live healthier lives and are more deeply connected to their community. The organization’s mission is to make this exposure possible for people of all income levels by using culture, community, and collaboration to present shows and exhibitions directly to the people inside the community so they can experience them close to home.

The group has been working since 1999 to provide summer arts programming and became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit in 2018 following Hurricane Harvey. The organization is funded by individual donors and grants and is not affiliated with Harris County. It’s now in its next phase of transitioning the community into a destination for cultural tourism through preserving, sharing, and celebrating the histories and cultures of Black and Brown people.

To learn more visit

SOURCE Harris County Cultural Arts Council

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