If there's one granting institution whose gift of hard cash means one heck of a lot to an arts nonprofit, that's the National Endowment for the Arts. To receive Benjamins from the NEA is akin to receiving an A+ for programs and services rendered, validating the grantee's standing in the eyes of its peers.
Musiqa Houston has just landed its fifth consecutive NEA Art Works Grant, and is one of 788 out of 1,624 eligible applicants across the nation to receive financial support from the United States federal government independent agency.
The $12,500 award is earmarked specifically for Musiqa's interactive education programs, Around the World and Musiqa Remix, which are offered free of charge to Houston area schools. They include pre-concert activities, an in-school workshop, a CD and DVD for every classroom, free transportation and a performance at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts.
"I protect consciousness, what do you do?"
Teachers also receive support through a curriculum guide that makes explicit connection to school's learning objectives as specified in the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills.
Since the program's inception, Musiqa has reached more than 30,000 underprivileged children.
That Musiqa invests so much energy in education is not a surprise. During his talk, "Why Young Minds Need Art," at the Houston Art Partners conference last year, Musiqa founder Anthony K. Brandt remarked, "I protect consciousness, what do you do?"
To the public at large, Musiqa is better known as a presenter of newly composed art music. Programs are curated by its Houston-based artistic board including Karim Al-Zand, Pierre Jalbert, Marcus Karl Maroney, Rob Smith and Brandt, all of whom are composers who teach at Rice University's Shepherd School of Music or University of Houston's Moores School of Music.
The concerts offer an access point into exploring the sounds of today's generation, with commentary by the composers and an opportunity for the audience to ask questions.
For those interested in lending a helping hand, Musiqa is celebrating its 10th anniversary with a fundraising concert and social featuring piano doyen Tali Morgulis and emerging viola whiz Adrienne Hochman.
Chaired by Laurie and Jeff Bricker and Sharyn and David Harris, the event is set for 6:30 p.m. Saturday at the offices of PageSoutherlandPage. Tickets are $125 in advance, $150 at the door.
Other notable Houston area nonprofits receiving support from NEA's latest Art Works round of funding include Writers In the Schools, Houston Arts Alliance, Houston Institute for Culture, Inprint, Diaz Music Institute, Houston Chamber Choir, Nameless Sound and DiverseWorks.