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Mayor Parker names Lowe and Baird co-chairs for Cultural Plan

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Rick Lowe (left) with Mayor Annise Parker and Philamena Baird July 30 2014
photo by Marc Pembroke

At her press conference on Wednesday July 30 following the City Council meeting, Mayor Parker announced the selection of Rick Lowe and Philamena Baird as co-chairs for Houston's second Cultural Plan.

Houston has long recognized the importance of the arts in enhancing the quality of life of the city. Dozens of organization support the museums, parks, theaters, orchestras, and festivals. In addition, an ordinance enacted in 1999 assures that 1.75% of the revenue generated through qualified Capital Improvement Projects be reserved for civic arts, assuring a source of funds for the ongoing work of maintaining public art throughout the city.

Mayor Parker has launched a process to create both a general plan and a cultural plan for Houston before she leaves office in 2015. Studies have shown that the arts contribute more to the economy than tourism. In Houston, the arts generate more revenue than sports. According the Mayor's Office, “[a] study released last year by the Houston Arts Alliance and the University of Houston found that the arts, culture and creative businesses, generate almost $10 billion in annual economic benefit within the 10 county region, with the potential to double that number.” For that reason, it is appropriate to examine strategic initiatives to help promote the ongoing creative work of the artistic community.

According to the Mayor's Press release of July 30:

“Rick Lowe is a strategic thinker who is tapped as a consultant on cultural projects around the world. He was selected by President Obama to serve on the National Council on the Arts. His most recognizable local project, Project Row Houses, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. Under his leadership, the organization has hosted more than 300 artists’ installation, performances, readings and other related activities. He and his team have also developed affordable housing initiatives and brought new life to the El Dorado Ballroom.

Philamena Baird has a lengthy resume that includes serving as president of numerous organizations including the Moore’s School of Music Society, The Houston Ballet Guild and The Jung Education Institute. She has chaired the prestigious Hunting Art Prize Event, the Shell Houston Open Eagle Awards Charity Gala, the Houston Ballet Dinner, the Miller Outdoor Theater Advisory Board Gala, the Consular Corp Gala and the Texas Bowl. She has also served on the boards of the Houston Arts Alliance, Theater Under the Stars and the Harris County Sports Authority. Her awards for service to our community include being named a Woman of Distinction, receiving a Macy’s Savy Award and being inducted into the Greater Houston Chamber of Commerce Women’s Hall of Fame.

“I want to thank Rick and Philamena for agreeing to give their valuable time and take this on,” said Mayor Parker. “Houston has changed dramatically since the last cultural plan in 1994. We are more diverse economically and ethnically. The number of arts and cultural organizations has grown, and our artist community has become one of the most exciting in the country. It’s time for a new plan that will position Houston as a leader and destination for arts and culture.”

The cultural plan process is being coordinated by the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs, with extensive outreach to the community at large, cultural organizations, artists and creative businesses.

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