New Pathways for the Arts | Houston

An adaptive capacity building program for arts organizations in Houston, TX

New Pathways for the Arts | Houston, a partnership between EmcArts and the Houston Arts Alliance, is a multi-year program geared to strengthen Houston’s distinct arts organizations by investing in adaptive change efforts. This program celebrates and advances organizational innovations as responses to complex challenges during times of rapid change in both the arts and nonprofit sectors.

New Pathways | Houston integrates a wide range of learning activities and financial investments as activities escalate from micro to macro-level experimentation. The program includes facilitation work by EmcArts experts, program-related micro-grants to support “small experiments with radical intent,” project grants to bolster prototyping efforts for substantial new strategies, and access to larger capital grants for qualifying applicants (thanks to generous change capital funding from the Houston Endowment).

Hurricane Harvey struck the Houston area in the middle of the New Pathways program, and while the program was temporarily put on hold, the participating organizations have shown considerable courage, vulnerability, and strength in choosing to move forward with their work. Click here to read a message from EmcArts President Richard Evans to participants about the nature of working at the boundary of complexity and chaos.

HAA’s multi-year Capitalization Program aims to allow organizations the freedom, through funding and expertise, to examine more closely the ways they do business, to challenge long-held organizational assumptions, and potentially to shift away from what others are doing in the field in an effort to test new ideas. In this ever-changing sector and world, arts and cultural organizations must be adaptable to meet challenges.

Richard Graber, Director of Grants and Capacity Building, Houston Arts Alliance
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Program Components

  • A sequence of six workshops and three participant-led Innovation Forums
  • The choice for each organization to apply for either On-site Coaching to support experimentation (with a $2,000 micro-grant) or a year-long, individually facilitated deep dive process to incubate a specific, larger-scale innovation initiative (with a $20,000 prototyping grant)
  • The opportunity to apply for capital grants to support the scaling of those projects which bear the possibility of long-term, transformative impacts
Houston Arts Alliance (HAA) is the local nonprofit arts and culture agency that enhances the city's quality of life through advancing and investing in the arts and diverse cultural programming. The work of HAA encourages Houston's development and shapes its global reputation by fostering tourism and supporting and promoting the city's creative economy.