Project Row Houses and University of Houston Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center celebrate the Third Ward’s African-American history with Performing the Neighborhood, a five-year artistic collaboration that begins in 2016. Each year, the partnership includes a live performance that honors the Third Ward’s illustrious cultural and artistic pasts. The festivities feature “large-scale, site specific projects” that engage locals from all around the city.
Each year, Performing the Neighborhood features a new performance-based work that’s inspired by the illustrious neighborhood and its connection to the community. To pay homage to the community’s artistic products, Performing kicks things off with a performance by MacArthur Genius recipient Jason Moran, a jazz pianist who grew up in the Third Ward. His performance is inspired by the growing connections between the historic community and its collegiate neighbors at the University of Houston.
The pianist, who recently played alongside his wife, singer Alicia Hall Moran, at the Mitchell Center’s Artist Lecture, is participating in the five-year project in conjunction with his “Homecoming” residency with Da Camera and Mitchell Center. Other artists involved include visual/sound artist Kevin Beasley, writer Okwui Okpokwasili and choreographer Kyle Abraham.
With Performing the Neighborhood, PRH, a Third Ward-based arts and culture organization, aims to create long-lasting connections within the community that highlight its significant cultural and artistic histories.
“We’re really interested in the landscape of the Third Ward,” says Ryan Dennis, Public Art Director at PRH, speaking about hopes of creating long-lasting connections within the community. “We want to have the inclusion of locals and neighbors and to bring the rich African-American history together.”
Even though this isn’t PRH’s first time working with the Mitchell Center, this is the first project that allows direct engagement between the neighboring communities—and hopefully the bonds will transcend to other parts of the city as well.
“The goal here is that we make sure the artists have workshops with students and residents in the Third Ward,” says Dennis. “And we want to deepen investments with students and locals in Houston at large.”