Mission & History


DiverseWorks produces and presents new multidisciplinary art through innovative collaborations with artists and communities.

We honor each artist’s vision without limits to generate expansive art and learning experiences for all.


DiverseWorks believes that contemporary art has the power to shape our world. We envision a just, free, and equitable society where the arts are essential to our everyday lives.

By supporting creative action, DiverseWorks will:

  • be a leader among artist-centered organizations in presenting compelling art that has local, national, and international relevance;
  • commission instigative artworks, initiate unlikely collaborations, and curate inventive exhibitions, performances, and public programs;
  • foster civic participation, cross-cultural understanding, systemic change, and innovation;
  • encourage expansive approaches to where art is seen and experienced;
  • and take risks to present work that otherwise might not be realized.


We value freedom of expression, artistic process, transparency, collaboration, justice, and curiosity.


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 has a long history of supporting the creation of new work, cross-disciplinary collaboration, and as a bridge between diverse sectors of the art community.

In 1983, artist Charles Gallagher founded DiverseWorks’ first home in a historic Civil War-era armory and dry goods store at 214 Travis Street. Fellow founding artists Billy Hassell and Doug Laguarda, along with Virgil and Deborah Grotfeldt, Melissa Noble, and others were all a part of its beginnings.

For 40 years, DiverseWorks has served as a forum for issues and works that have had no other public outlet in Houston. Today, DiverseWorks produces a year-round schedule of exhibitions, performances, and community programs and is recognized as a vital presence in national organizations such as the National Performance Network and Common Field. 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. Recent commissions include projects by Lily Cox-Richard, Kate Gilmore & Heather Rowe, Laura Gutierrez, Pablo Helguera, Autumn Knight, Liz Magic Laser, Sheila Pepe, Sondra Perry, Wura Natasha-Ogunji, taisha paggett, Wu Tsang, and Takahiro Yamamoto, among others.

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. DiverseWorks produces programming at MATCH, as well as various sites across the city of Houston.

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.


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 processed 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.

W.A.G.E. Certification

Since 2015, DiverseWorks has been W.A.G.E. (Working Artists in the Greater Economy) Certified.  W.A.G.E. Certification is a national program initiated and operated by W.A.G.E. that publicly recognizes those nonprofit arts organizations demonstrating a history of, and commitment to, voluntarily paying artist fees that meet minimum payment standards.

 Working Artists and the Greater Economy is a New York-based activist organization founded in 2008. Our mission is to establish sustainable economic relationships between artists and the institutions that contract our labor, and to introduce mechanisms for self-regulation into the art field that collectively bring about a more equitable distribution of its economy.