JULY 2023

State of the Arts License Plate

A photo from above of a group of people circled around musicians in a furnished room in the Citadelle Art Foundation.

A performance as part of Full Circle, which featured the commission, performance, and recording of six original chamber music compositions, all inspired by the collection at the Citadelle Art Museum, in Canadian. Scroll down for more information on this TCA-funded project in the grantee spotlight! Photo: the Citadelle Art Museum.

Texas Legislative Session Results

TCA’s budget for 2024 and 2025 is now official! Governor Abbott has signed the budget into law as part of House Bill 1. As finalized, TCA’s budget will be $15.7 M for each fiscal year. That’s an increase of over $4 M per fiscal year compared to the previous biennium. You can use this page to review the text of House Bill 1.


TCA is grateful for the support of Governor Abbott, the Texas Senate and the Texas House, our partners at Texans for the Arts and the Texas Cultural Trust, and for the many members of the Texas arts field who advocated for our work. We look forward to granting these funds out across the state. Fiscal year 2024 starts September 1, 2023.

Photo: Texas Legislature Online

Artists Deep in the Heart

A photo of Mariam Botana de Armas, Naomi Shihab Nye, and Ava Shipp at the 2023 Texas Poetry Out Loud finals

Our longtime friend Naomi Shihab Nye recently wrote about her career working with students and poetry, and gave TCA some generous credit for her early success as a poet. The photos in the article were taken at our Texas Poetry Out Loud finals in March, where Naomi served as our MC. Thank you always, Naomi!

We’d also love to share a few lovely articles that came out recently to celebrate the designation of the 2023 and 2024 Texas Poet Laureates, Texas State Musicians, and Texas State Artists in 2D and 3D!


On 2023 Texas Poet Laureate ire’ne lara silva.


On Austin artists silva, 2024 Texas Poet Laureate Amanda Johnston and 2023 Texas State Musician Gary Clark, Jr.


One of several pieces on 2023 Texas State Artist 2D, Gaspar Enriquez.


Including this one, which also celebrates 2024 Texas State Artist 3D, Diana Kersey.

Kersey herself paid beautiful tribute to her mentor, 2023 Texas State Artist 3D, James C. Watkins, here.


On 2024 Texas State Artist 2D, Michael Ray Charles.


And, last but not least, a celebration of Fort Worth’s/Burleson's own Kelly Clarkson, our 2024 Texas State Musician.

Photo by Amanda Klaus, featuring Naomi Shihab Nye with 2023 Texas Poetry Out Loud winner Mariam Botana de Armas (left) and runner-up Ava Shipp (right).

Beware of SAM-UEI Scams

A graphic that reads, scam alert.

If your organization has a SAM-UEI (System of Award Management-Unique Entity Identifier) issued by the federal government, TCA wants to remind you this service is 100% FREE. Scammers are sending out convincing-looking “official” emails offering to help with SAM-UEI renewals for a fee. Renewals are free, so any mention of a fee should alert you that the email is a scam. TCA recommends marking those emails as junk, blocking those senders, and deleting those emails. Only organizations that apply directly to a federal agency for funding need to renew their SAM-UEI.

Grantwriting as Storytelling in a Post-Pandemic Environment

A headshot of Maria Rocha, who smiles at the camera. Her long salt-and-pepper hair brushes past her shoulders. She wears a bright pink collared shirt.

On June 6, TCA held an online convening on Grantwriting as Storytelling in a Post-Pandemic Environment. Speakers discussed their experiences in grantwriting and storytelling to illuminate how you can share your organization’s story, accomplishments, and unique offerings with a variety of funders. 

A photo of Samantha Apodaca, who is seated and smiling at the camera. She has long red hair and wears a teal shirt and grey slacks.

We were pleased with the robust discussion and the strong attendance. If you weren’t able to join the live event, a recording of it is available here.

Thanks again to our speakers for this session: Maria Rocha, Co-Founder and Board of Elders Secretary of the Indigenous Cultures Institute (San Marcos); Samantha Apodaca, Director of Grants at Creative Action (Austin); and Tim Fried-Fiori, Executive Director and Development Director at Express Children’s Theatre (Houston).

A close headshot of Tim Fried-Fiori, who smiles with his lips together. He has close-cropped hair and wears a dark collared shirt.

Mark your calendars for the next event in this speaker series! On October 25 from 2 PM to 3:30 PM Central, we'll be convening virtually to discuss community engagement and audience development with members of our field. We’ll have more details about that activity in our next newsletter!

Photos, from top to bottom: Maria Rocha, Samantha Apodaca, Tim Fried-Fiori.

Support Texas Arts with the New State of the Arts License Plate

TCA’s new black-and-silver State of the Arts minimalist design license plate is shipping and is available to order at This plate design can go on a passenger car, motorcycle, trailer, or private bus (attention, Texas bands!). TCA will receive a portion of the sales of the plate. Note that this plate is part of MyPlates’ “Lone Star Series,” but only the State of the Arts plate supports TCA. There is a price break for those ordering their plate for multiple years. Make a long-term commitment to the arts!  

TCA Grant & Program Updates

TCA has a few upcoming application deadlines. As always, the TCA staff is happy to discuss your goals and eligibility to determine which programs are right for you—you can schedule a virtual appointment with a staff member. You may also request that a TCA staff member review your application and provide feedback. Ideally, these draft review requests would be made at least two weeks before the application deadline.

Grant Program: Arts Respond Project

Arts Respond Project grants provide project assistance grants to nonprofit arts organizations on a short-term basis and may include administrative costs directly related to the project. Projects must address one of the following priority areas: economic development, education, health & human services, public safety & criminal justice, or natural resources & agriculture.  

Activity dates must start: between September 1, 2023 and March 31, 2024 

Application deadline: midnight on July 17, 2023 

Application form: online now for eligible organizations 

Application Limit: organizations may submit one application for this deadline. Organizations should not submit more than one application addressing the same priority area per fiscal year. 

Resources: grant guidelines, contact TCA staff 

Grant Program: Arts Respond Performance Support 

This program provides professional artist fees to Texas nonprofits, schools, colleges, and units of government for hiring an artist from the Texas Touring Roster to do a performance. These applications are funded based on a percentage of contracted fees.

Activity dates must start: Between September 1, 2023 and December 14, 2023 

Application deadline: Midnight on August 1, 2023 

Application form: online 

Resources: grant guidelines, contact TCA staff

Texas Touring Roster Artist Rural Tours in July

Two actors are shown standing on stage wearing Shakespearean-era clothing.

In our continuing efforts to provide more quality performances and arts opportunities in underserved rural areas of the state, TCA selected eight Texas Touring Roster artists and groups to provide free performances in rural counties between March 1 and August 31 (TCA pays each artist a flat fee for the performances directly.). Each artist or group provides six performances in an assigned area, and the performances are hosted by local nonprofits, units of government, or schools. In the summer, these tours often serve youth summer reading programs in libraries. Hosts are reminded that any Texas nonprofit or unit of government (including a school or library) is eligible to apply for a Performance Support grant for up to half of a Texas Touring Roster artist’s fee.


Already this year, TCA has received meaningful feedback on earlier tours. This spring, Texas Shakespeare Festival’s Roadshow embarked on a tour of Central Texas, anchored in Coleman County. Susan Reynolds, Executive Director at the Texas Botanical Gardens in Goldthwaite (Mills County), spoke very highly of the group, stating that “[The actors] made Shakespeare easy to understand through their reactions and actions, vocal inflection, and volume... It was such a fun program, so very well done!” She also mentioned how thoughtful and personable the group was to the audience: “The actors were engaging afterward as well. They came and ate with the audience, interacting, and even touring our gardens.” TCA is proud to be a part of bringing new arts experiences to rural populations. We have a few more coming up this month.

A black-and-white photo of ire'ne lara silva, who is seated. She wears glasses and has dark curly hair. She wears a tropical-patterned shirt.

2023 Texas State Poet Laureate ire’ne lara silva will be touring in north-central Texas. She will be performing at Clyde Public Library on July 12 at 4 PM, at Anson Public Library on July 13 at 10:30 AM, at Stephenville Public Library on July 14 at 10:30 AM, at the 3 Rivers Foundation in Crowell on July 15 at 7 PM, at Paducah’s Bicentennial City County Library on July 18 at 2 PM, and at Carnegie City-County Library in Vernon on July 19 at 1 PM.

Three photos of Chris Espinosa leading a student workshop. The photos convey the sense of motion and energy.

Teaching artist Chris Espinosa will be touring the Texas Panhandle, anchored in Hutchinson County. He will be performing at Sherman County Library in Stratford on July 18 at 10 AM, 11 AM, & 1 PM. On July 19, he will perform at the Stinnett branch of the Hutchinson County Library at 10 AM, at the Borger branch at 2 PM, and at the Fritch branch at 4 PM. Chris will wrap up the tour at Hansford County Library in Spearman on July 20 at 10 AM.

If you are near any of these venues, we hope you’ll enjoy these free performances! Special thanks to the fantastic artists conducting rural tours on behalf of TCA and to their host organizations.

Texas Shakespeare photo: Susan Reynolds, Texas Botanical Gardens; ire'ne lara silva photo: Octavio Quintanilla; Chris Espinosa photo: Chris Espinosa.

Apply to Be a TCA Grant Evaluator 

Each year, TCA invites roughly 200 Texans to serve as peer reviewers of the grant applications we receive. We are grateful to these members of our arts field who donate their time and knowledge to our panel review process and assess the quality of grant applications. The peer review process is central to the Commission’s efforts to maintain an accountable, accessible awards system for the State of Texas.


If you would like insight into the grant evaluation process, we invite you to nominate yourself to serve on a panel. TCA is not able to pay for this work, but it will allow you to gain experience as a grant evaluator, see how other organizations present their programs and challenges, and ensure that TCA grant decisions can be made—we really can’t do this without you. Nominations are accepted year-round and can be made here 


Panels can be held online or in person in Austin. TCA reimburses for travel and hotel costs for in-person meetings. For online panels, TCA assigns reviewers no more than 25 grant applications to help keep the workload reasonable. Evaluators can also be grant applicants—TCA excludes evaluators from reviewing and scoring an application that they submitted or have any other conflict of interest with.   

Grantee Spotlight: Childhood Visits to Museum Inspire Rural Concerts

Musicians lined up at the edge of the stage at their Texas Crown Performance Hall performance.

Every fall, TCA staff spend many, many hours reviewing report forms that grantees submit as they close out their grants. These reports share arts organizations’ trials and tribulations, challenges and solutions. Many of these stories will resonate with others across our field, so we're sharing some of them through grantee spotlights. 


Our focus this month is the Citadelle Art Museum, a fine arts museum in Canadian. Canadian is the county seat and only incorporated community in Hemphill County, which has a total population of 3,382 according to the 2020 census. Last year, the Citadelle Art Museum was awarded an Arts Respond Project grant in the Natural Resources and Agriculture priority area. The competitive grants in this priority area support activities that take place in rural counties, and/or which have a focus on natural resources. The museum’s Arts Respond Project grant supported Full Circle, a project in partnership with Rice University, Amarillo College, West Texas A&M University School of Music, and the Canadian Independent School District, focused on creating a special series of concerts for residents of Hemphill County.


The project was inspired by the story of locally-born composer Alex Moreno, whose childhood experiences hearing classical music for the first time at the Citadelle Art Museum motivated him to pursue a composition degree at Rice University. Full Circle featured the commission, performance, and recording of six original chamber music compositions, all inspired by the collection at the Citadelle Art Museum, by Alex Moreno and fellow colleagues at Rice University. These pieces were performed by students and faculty from their partner schools at both the museum and Canadian’s Texas Crown Performance Hall, offering multiple, free opportunities for youth and adults to become inspired just as Moreno was. Following the performances, the recordings became integrated into the Citadelle’s permanent collection for future generations to experience.


The impact of these commissions is already palpable, with some audience members having traveled more than 240 miles to hear the performances at both venues. In most cases, these performances served as attendees’ first experience with live chamber music, mirroring Moreno’s own childhood experience. Reflecting on the project and its partnerships, Moreno said of the experience, “Probably one of the most special things about this opportunity was that it gave me the chance to show my hometown what I get to experience daily, and that was just so very special,” he said. “I got to take the best orchestral performers in the country home to meet my community.”


TCA is proud to be able to support the Citadelle Art Museum, and the many other wonderful organizations across the state who make the arts accessible to our fellow Texans.

Photo: the Citadelle Art Museum

Farewell, Jade! 

Jade Trent photo by Stephanie Shipp of Luminous Photographs

After a little over two years at TCA, Program Assistant Jade Trent left at the beginning of June to join the staff of Humanities Texas. At TCA, Jade helped the program staff by reviewing grant attachments, audiovisual samples, and closeout reports. She was also tasked with work toward paying grants and building grant review panels. We wish Jade well in her next adventures!

Photo: Stephanie Shipp of Luminous Photographs

Texas Commission on the Arts
920 Colorado Street
Austin, TX 78701
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