Mission & History

Mission

DiverseWorks commissions, produces, and presents new and daring art in all its forms through innovative collaborations that honor each artist’s vision without constraint.

Vision

We honor freedom of expression as an essential tenet of a civil society and know that art carries an astounding promise for individual growth and insight.

Through sharp attention to artistic quality and creative action, Diverseworks:

  • will invigorate Houston by fostering civic participation, cross-cultural understanding, and fueling artistic innovation
  • will be a nationally recognized artist-centered leader in presenting art that defies expectations
  • will supply a steady array of stimulating installations, unlikely collaborations, and inventive happenings
  • and will take risks and present work that might not otherwise be shown

Values

We value freedom of expression, authenticity, experimentation, collaboration, diversity, and fun.

History

Founded by artists in 1982, DiverseWorks is nationally known for its ground-breaking programming; as a resource for the innovative and meaningful engagement of communities; and as a force that has shaped contemporary thought and practice in Houston and the nation. DiverseWorks is a leader in the nationwide movement of artist-centered organizations and is a vital presence in national organizations such as the National Performance Network, the Visual Artists Network, and the National Dance Project.

For nearly 35 years, DiverseWorks has served as a forum for issues and works that have had no other public outlet in Houston. DiverseWorks provides first-time commissioning opportunities for emerging artists and continued support for innovative mid-career artists. DiverseWorks is a local and national source for high quality, progressive works of art that compel viewers to broaden their perceptions of what art is and how art can be a critical tool for addressing cultural and aesthetic concerns. Visual arts exhibitions have included major commissions and projects by renowned artists such as Sheila Pepe, Sondra Perry, Karen Finley, Liz Magic Laser, and Wu Tsang. DiverseWorks has also commissioned and supported the careers of provocative performing artists including Elia Arce, Stephan Koplowitz, Aaron Landsman, Nora Chipamuire, Dean Moss, Tahni Holt, and taisiha paggett.

In November 2012, DiverseWorks moved from its previous location to the heart of the newly designated Midtown Cultural Arts District, and in 2015 moved into the new MATCH (Midtown Arts and Theater Center Houston), a multi-tenant facility with multiple performance and gallery spaces. Since DiverseWorks’ move to the MATCH, attendance has increased by 100%.

Also in 2015, concurrent with preparations for the move, the Board and staff undertook a strategic planning process. The resulting Strategic Framework clearly articulates DiverseWorks’ mission, vision, and values, as well as the organization’s place in the Houston cultural community. Facing a rapidly growing population that is the most diverse of any US metropolitan area, DiverseWorks accepts the challenge to take artistic risks, engage new contemporary art audiences, and share artistic excellence locally and beyond.

Archives

In 2016, DiverseWorks donated its organizational archives to the University of Houston Libraries Special Collections. The collection contains a wealth of information spanning DiverseWorks’ history, beginning in 1982. The archives are currently being catalogued and are available for research by students, faculty, and the public.

For more information about UH Special Collections, click here.

For a map and driving directions to UH Libraries, click here.