Hot spot for the arts

2 Houston historic neighborhoods earn new designation as cultural districts

2 Houston neighborhoods earn new designation as cultural districts

Project Row Houses' Third Ward Community Market & Talent Showcase
Third Ward is now (officially) a cultural district.  Courtesy of Project Row Houses

Houston has a two new cultural districts. The Texas Commission on the Arts (TCA) approved the designation of Fifth Ward and Third Ward as two of five official new cultural districts around the state, announced September 3.

Also joining the list are the Deep Ellum Cultural District in Dallas, Near Southside Arts in Fort Worth, and Red River Cultural District in Austin. Texas now has 48 designated cultural districts.

“We are pleased to highlight the wonderful work these districts are already doing to attract visitors to their communities, and to enhance the quality of life in our great state,” says Gary Gibbs, executive director of TCA, in a release. 

Cultural districts are defined by TCA as special zones that “harness the power of cultural resources to stimulate economic development and community revitalization,” the release says. They are focal points for generating business, attracting tourists, stimulating cultural development, and fostering civic pride, TCA explains. 

Only Texas Commission on the Arts can officially designate cultural districts on behalf of the state, and neighborhoods must go through a rigorous application and approval process.

“Each approved cultural district provided extensive information on their qualifications, and was considered through a highly rigorous review process,” Gibbs says. "We congratulate them on this achievement." 

TCA applauded Houston's Third and Fifth Wards, saying:

In the Fifth Ward, art is a way of life. The Fifth Ward Cultural Arts District uses myriad strategies to preserve and build on the cultural legacies of the past, while also looking to art to navigate future challenges. By harnessing the power of a rich and amazing history in arts and culture, the district’s goal is to support economic and community growth. This means encouraging new businesses, growing existing businesses, creating jobs, preserving and celebrating all cultures within the Fifth Ward, and showcasing amazing creative talent and opportunities.

The Third Ward is the epicenter of Black art, culture and history in Houston. The Third Ward Cultural District (The Tre) enhances and references quality of life through the activation and cultivation of artistic resources for all the district’s residents, entrepreneurs, culture bearers and visitors. The Tre holds a vision of preserving, protecting, inspiring and sharing the artistic and cultural legacy of the historic Third Ward with current and future generations of artists and creatives through innovative arts and cultural engagement.

Cultural districts are are not only marketable tourism assets for cities, but they and their qualifying resident arts organizations may apply for significant Cultural District Project funding through TCA.

Each new cultural district will host an event when in-person gatherings can happen safely again. TCA representatives will be on hand to provide an official proclamation.