Houston Museum of Culture
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Ten Things the Houston Museum of Culture will do for Houston

It's really no mystery why Houston struggles for national recognition - people don't understand the city. Even within the city, there is little knowledge about its history or the role of its industries. The national and international imagination, where Houston is concerned, is guided by images of freeways, sprawl, pollution, oil derricks and refineries, and even cowboys. Convention visitors know us for men's clubs. Tourists come to Houston to go to Galveston. The Galleria mall is one of few alternate choices for visitors to the city. Strangely enough, Houston is still known by the 1980 film "Urban Cowboy" (prominently set in Pasadena's Gilley's night club) more than any media since.

Houston has few resources to spread knowledge about the city. No institution since the Astrodome has made Houston a destination for people from other states and countries.

Even in areas where the city has quietly excelled, like the quality and diversity of its restaurants, eclectic modern arts, or its impact in the melting together of American music, Houston has fallen behind. Whether it is the traditions and diversity that provide for its quality of life or hyper-free enterprise business model and industries that impact the ways of life of people across the nation and around the world, Houston has never managed to be a well-known or familiar place to many more than just those who live here.

As a result, Houston doesn't get presidential libraries, space shuttles, national parks, Olympic Games, World Cup matches, or World's Fair Expositions. It misses opportunities for many major exhibits and festivals that have a profound impact on much smaller communities. The city rarely emerges to support the kinds of visionary ideas that have put neighboring cities on the map, such as the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, or Austin's South by Southwest and Austin City Limits Festival. Most of its cultural resources are under-supported and even marginalized in policy and funding for their inability to create viable cultural tourism. Houston rarely gets national sports events, though it frequently builds new stadiums and can generally show ticket sales to support their costs, though the revenue for them based on visitor taxes is nowhere near its potential. Without supplemental knowledge of the city, even its sports teams with their national television markets struggle to interest the rest of the nation.

But with all its credentials [being in a region with incredible events representing the nation's oldest and most important history (from Spanish exploration to the end of slavery); integral politics of resources and exploration - old and new - that play out on the world stage (our long history of immigration that crested at the Port of Galveston in the Nineteenth Century and rose again with the oil boom and fall of Saigon in the 1970s); direct connection to monumental modern events (like space exploration); environmental challenges (hurricanes, drought, heat and humidity, subsidence, and more); world-leading cultural, religious and economic dynamics of our diverse population; the mix of modern and vernacular architecture; cutting edge arts and technologies; diversity of traditions and cultural interests expressed widely in the city (music genres, art cars, theatre and visual arts); academic fields at our many universities that explore archaic periods of history to modern sociology to future studies; and vibrant industries that are emerging from past glory to meet future challenges], Houston ranks among the most interesting cities in the modern world.

Houston lacks a major institution, working on the scale of the most prominent museums in the world, to explore these vast subjects and more, and to present its academic and community involved interpretations for the greater Houston and world-wide public.

Ten Things the Houston Museum of Culture will do for Houston:

1. Tell the story of Houston and its modern diversity and industries.

2. Provide a venue for major international touring exhibits.

3. Launch touring exhibits produced locally for national and international audiences.

4. Develop cultural and education-based tourism for the city.

5. Increase support from outside the city for Houston's museums, institutions and organizations.

6. Provide resources for artists and arts organizations.

7. Provide resources for non-profit organizations focused on education, community and environment, and move excellent programs directly into Houston communities.

8. Provide a central public forum for the important work being produced by Houston universities.

9. Provide a center for education conferences, community forums and Consular Corps activities.

10. Provide a venue for many unique, interactive presentations, including food workshops, panel discussions, energy and environmental awareness demonstrations, dialogue on new media, book readings, documentation and public history archive building, small vendor and art sales, cultural festivals, and cultural arts preservation and performances.

There are many more benefits the Houston Museum of Culture will provide. Needless to say, it will change the course of Houston through education and cultural attractions. It will represent the exciting history of Houston, and its array of traditions and multiplicity of cultures. It will establish Houston as a world leader in understanding ways of life and developing topical programs to improve interests in diversity, community health and quality of life in city, for the benefit of the greater population.

Community members from all backgrounds, representing many diverse cultures and interests, are needed to be founders and advisors for this visionary project.

Learn more at: www.hmoc.org

Epilogue: In his many talks for Houston civic groups and business forums, Rice University sociologist Dr. Stephen Klineberg presents a scenario where Houston has become the most diverse city in the nation with all populations being minorities, but a city with a volatile future based on its inclusiveness, access to opportunity, education and economic challenges. The strength of its diversity could make it a future world leader, or lack of action on key issues could relegate it to the fate of many once-thriving northern US cities. The Houston Museum of Culture will be a major factor in how the city and its diverse populations will respond to these challenges.

Founders' Deadlines Houston Museum of Culture seeks founders, founding advisory board members, volunteers and community partners.

Due to its limitless potential, there is an imperative to move ahead quickly with this exciting project to establish an internationally-recognized museum. The Houston Museum of Culture will provide great benefits to Houston by:

-interpreting the region's unique history and lifeways;
-presenting a major forum for the work of academic institutions in our city;
-benefiting area community advocates and educators;
-attracting international forums and diplomatic activities;
-providing an venue for cultural arts, demonstrations and community dialogue;
-promoting cultural tourism to Houston;
-and, promoting immeasurable improvements and quality of life benefits for Houston communities.

You're invited to learn more about plans to build the Houston Museum of Culture and the critical roles founders, advisors and volunteers will play.

We have concluded a series of focus groups and general information meetings. The next step is to ensure the outreach effort for founders and sponsors is extended to the broadest possible cross section of Houston communities.

The founders' campaign will wrap up by the following dates:

February 10, 2012Individuals and Families
April 30, 2012Arts Groups and Organizations
September 30, 2012Businesses

You may help by coordinating future information meetings for interested organizations and businesses, or a group of individuals you may want to assemble.

There is a need for the wide range of abilities everyone can bring to the effort, from helping plan the many special events that raising awareness of the founding campaign will require, to crafting the mission and vision, and designing the future structure of the museum's support and operation.

Organizations, arts and music groups, and university departments can serve a vital role as well. Outreach campaigns and fundraisers at area universities and cultural institutions rank among the greatest needs.

We have many outreach opportunities coming up. Founding advisory board members and volunteers are needed.

For more information, contact mark@houstonculture.org.

Thank you for your time and attention.

Mark Lacy
Founder and Advisor
Houston Museum of Culture

Prospectus and Plan of Action

Access the HMOC Mobile Site

Get Involved Be a Founder

People from all of Houston's diverse communities will provide a comprehensive vision for the museum and set the founding effort in motion. To be a founder, please complete the form at www.hmoc.org/fifty.

Spread the Word

People of all backgrounds and every imaginable ability are needed to serve as advisors, help spread the word and plan outreach activities. To register as a volunteer, go to www.visionforhouston.org/volunteer.html.

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