New/Now: The Houston Artist Commissioning Project was launched in 2020 with the goal to promote and sustain Houston’s working artists and artist communities by supporting the creation of new works across all performing arts disciplines. Building on the success of the first year of live premieres in 2021, during this second year the project will award 3-4 artists with commission funding to present original work in the Cullen Theater as part of Performing Arts Houston’s 22/23 season.

Houston is the most culturally diverse city in the nation. In celebrating artists’ voices here at home, we promote more connected and thriving communities. Performing Arts Houston believes Black artists, Indigenous artists, artists of color, artists in the LGBTQ+ community, artists with disabilities, and woman artists must be centered through this project. To that end, we strongly encourage applications from artists with these identities or members of other marginalized communities.

New/Now: The Houston Artist Commissioning Project is generously funded by the Cullen Foundation, Mid-America Arts Alliance, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the state arts agencies of Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas.

New/Now artist awards are made possible in part by the SPA Foundation through the Mattox Fund for New Works.

Questions? Read through our FAQs sheet or contact us at commissions@performingartshouston.org

Live Commissions

Applications for the live performance awards are OPEN through June 12, 2022.
3-4 working performing artists or groups within the Greater Houston Metro Area will be awarded commissions to create a new 20-25 minute work to premiere in Festival Format on the Cullen Theater stage at the Wortham Center in Spring 2023. For more information, click the link below to apply, or visit our FAQ page.


Learn more about each cohort of winners below.


Announced January 29, 2021

Performing Arts Houston announces six live performance award winners of the Houston Artist Commissioning Project (HACP). Chosen from over 60 applicants, the winners reflect the breadth, diversity, and extraordinary creativity of Houston’s working performing artists. The premieres of these new 15-25 minute works will be presented by Performing Arts Houston in Jones Hall, October 15 & 16 and November 12 & 13, 2021. Each artist will have two opportunities to perform their new work for live, in-person audiences. Tickets and additional information will be announced later this spring with the launch of the 2021-22 season.

While there were originally three live performance award winners planned for this phase of the project, we sought to respond to the need for support in our artist communities by doubling the number of awards given.

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Harrison Guy
Harrison Guy has captivated audiences across the nation through his inspirational and unique works of passion, beauty, and activism that are rooted in African American history & culture. He began his dance journey in the small town of La Marque, TX, and building on his love for social dance and Hip-Hop he affirmed his purpose and calling by studying dance at Prairie View A&M University. He continued his studies at the Houston Metropolitan Dance Center, Sam Houston State University, Deeply Rooted Productions in Chicago, Dallas Black Dance Theater, and The Ailey School in New York. He was a founding member of both Exclamation Dance Company and Dorrel Martin’s Dance Fusion in Houston. In 2004, he debuted his dance company Urban Souls Dance Company at the city-wide dance festival, Dance Houston.

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Say Girl Say with Two Star Symphony & Input/Output
Say Girl Say is a genre-bending multi-instrumental duo from Houston, Texas composed of members Brigette Yawn and Suad Ihsan. Their signature sound is known for articulate soaring vocal harmonies, lyrical finesse and entrancing melodies backed by eclectic instrumental production. In May 2015, Say Girl Say released their first self-titled record “Say Girl Say.” Since then they’ve performed at SXSW, CMJ, Art Outside, Houston Whatever Fest, River Revival, In Bloom and many others. In 2019, Say Girl Say was honored the opportunity to partner with sign language interpreter Amber Galloway-Gallego, who specializes in music interpreting, for a mini-docu series “Music Has No Bounds” sponsored by Dell, a collaborative experience that depicts the representation of the deaf and hard of hearing community and bridging the gap for cultural linguistic minorities in America by making meaningful and genuine connections through music.

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Riyaaz Qawwali
Riyaaz Qawwali performs the gripping music style called qawwali, or sufi music. They represent the diversity and plurality of South Asia. The ensemble’s musicians, who are settled in the United States, hail from India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh and represent multiple religious and spiritual backgrounds. Trained in eastern and western classical music, the members have been professionally performing qawwali for the past twelve years. With conservative growth and heightened attention to quality, Riyaaz Qawwali has performed across the continental U.S., in Panama and debuted in Europe in 2017

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Deborah D.E.E.P. Mouton
Deborah D.E.E.P. Mouton is an internationally known writer, educator, activist, and Poet Laureate Emeritus of Houston, Texas. Formerly ranked the #2 Best Female Poet in the World, her work has appeared in Houston Noir by Akashic Press (2019), Black Girl Magic by Haymarket Books (2019), Fjords Journal, Crab Orchard Review, and on such platforms as NPR, BBC, ABC, Apple News, Blavity, Upworthy, and across the TedX circuit. She serves as a contributing writer to Texas Monthly and Glamour. Her most recent poetry collection, Newsworthy, won honorable mention for the Summerlee Book Prize. A German translation, under the title SayTheirNames, is set to be released in Fall 2021 by Elif Verlag.

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Patrick “PJ” Davis
Patrick “PJ” Davis is a creative and social activist based out of Houston, Texas and founder of the poetry troop Starving Poets, Ink. PJ has produced homegrown events such as the Starving Poets: Poetic House Party and worked with many other landmark events such as Poetry Lounge Houston, Houston International Jazz Festival and Tournament of the Stars. He has also been a pioneer on the arts scene co-producing and collaborating with many events from poetry, comedy, theater, jazz, live music and major festivals. He is the father of a beautiful daughter, Phoenix, and was born and raised in Beaumont, Texas.

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Loop38 & Houston Contemporary Dance Company
Loop38 is a boundary-pushing, artist-driven new music ensemble that aims to build community around innovative, stimulating, and culturally relevant musical experiences. Loop38 cherishes opportunities to work closely with composers and artists from other disciplines to create unique artistic experiences. Past collaborations have involved the Rice University Theater Department, Apollo Chamber Players, the Moody Center for the Arts, WindSync, University of Houston’s Blaffer Art Museum, Musiqa, and several artists in residence at Sawyer Yards.

Houston Contemporary Dance Company (HCDC) is a fresh, brand-new arts organization whose mission is to ignite passion for contemporary dance by providing world-class professional repertory concert performances and community engagement activities that are accessible to all regardless of race, culture, sexual orientation, gender, gender variance, or nationality. HCDC aims to be a vital component in not only keeping contemporary dance alive in Houston, but to firmly position Houston as a cultural center for dance by building broad participation and support for contemporary dance.

Virtual Commissions

Check out the virtual award winners of the Houston Artist Commissioning Project. Awarded during the pandemic, these digital performances brought the performance stage to anywhere our audiences needed to be.


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