Houston’s Fifth and Third Wards officially designated as Cultural Districts

The State of Texas has officially designated the City of Houston’s Fifth Ward Cultural District and the Historic Third Ward as cultural districts or special zones designed to stimulate economic development and community revitalization.

These districts can be focal points for generating business, attracting tourists, stimulating cultural development and fostering civic pride.

Affectionately known by Houstonians as “The Nickel” and “the Tre”, the areas are two of five new cultural districts announced this week by the Texas Commission on the Arts (TCA). Houston is now home to seven cultural districts and has the largest number of cultural districts in one city.

“These neighborhoods have created, nurtured and celebrated arts and culture over generations,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner. “With the new designations and intentional focus on heritage, the Nickel and the Tre, will continue to serve, educate and empower residents and visitors.”

2019 Fifth Ward Renaissance Festival

The new designations bring the total number of cultural districts in Texas to 48.

“I am so excited to see the State recognize the Fifth Ward community for its rich history and heritage while also acknowledging its continued commitment to arts and culture,” stated Harrison Guy, Director of Arts & Culture, Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment Corporation. “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.”

“We are honored to receive cultural district designation for our beloved Third Ward,” stated Eureka Gilkey, Executive Director, Project Row Houses. “Our rich history tells a powerful story of liberation and celebration. This designation amplifies the role of Black culture, commerce, and community in shaping Houston’s diverse ecosystem. We are eager to welcome visitors from throughout Houston and around the world. The honor is particularly meaningful since our neighbors in Fifth Ward are also being recognized as a cultural district. Shout out to the Nickel from The Tré!”

2019 Black Love Fest HTX at Emancipation Park.

Houston’s other state-designated cultural districts include the Arts District Houston, East End Cultural District, Midtown Cultural Arts and Entertainment District, Museum District and Theater District. Official designation allows cultural districts and qualifying resident arts organizations to be eligible to apply for significant Cultural District Project funding through TCA.

The two cultural districts are home to historic businesses and buildings like Club Matinee and the Eldorado Ballroom; to internationally renowned artists Mel Chin and Jason Moran; to Houston signature events Renaissance Festival and Juneteenth at Emancipation Park; and public art works The Fruits of the Fifth Ward by Reginald Adams and numerous murals by John Biggers on the Texas Southern University campus. The outcomes of cultural districts extend beyond the arts and benefit all members of a community.

Third Ward is now (officially) a cultural district. Courtesy of Project Row Houses

“Houston celebrates with both communities on this accomplishment and shares our excitement for our city’s continued cultural offerings,” said Debbie McNulty, director of the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs.

Each approved cultural district provided extensive information on their qualifications and was considered through a highly rigorous review process. To learn more about the City’s cultural programs visit www.houstontx.gov/culturalaffairs. You can also follow MOCA on Facebook and Instagram @HoustonMOCA.