The Bayou City Art Festivals – in Downtown Houston in the fall and at Memorial Park in the spring – are produced by the Art Colony Association, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to producing high quality art festivals and events. Over the past 40 years, the festivals have raised $2.6 million benefiting local arts and service organizations, as well as Houston parksthroughout the Greater Houston area.
In 1971, Houston’s Montrose-area retail owners and residents came together to start a community arts and crafts festival to raise money for the beautification of lower Westheimer Road. Due to the success of the first festival, the group organized the Westheimer Colony Association (WCA), and by 1973, the WCA began producing two small art and crafts festivals each year with proceeds used to beautify the surrounding areas with esplanade plantings.
In the mid 1970s, the festivals had grown in popularity and a street festival began to develop around the Westheimer Art Festivals. Artists from across the United States placed Houston on their calendars and Houstonians knew where to go for exceptional art, food and people watching.
In 1976, the WCA became a federally recognized 501(c)-4 nonprofit organization that donated proceeds from its festivals to charitable organizations in the Houston community. By the early 1980s, the event had become a true happening, sanctioning 310 artists’ booths and an estimated 700 additional exhibitors.
Shortly thereafter, the Westheimer Art Festival moved to a bank parking lot and began charging an admission fee to assist with expenses. In 1992, the WCA celebratedits 20th anniversary, and the art festival had gained
national recognition. That year the spring festival moved to the City of Houston parking lots at Main and Calhoun Streets. Though the site was large enough for the art festival, it was only a temporary location. The WCA concentrated on improving the quality of the art and encouraging more fine artists to attend. By this time, the organization had donated more than $1 million to charities and its festivals were ranked in the top 50 nationally by art magazines.
n 1995, the WCA changed its name to the Art
Colony Association (ACA) and in the spring of
the following year, the festival became a
Houston Parks and Recreation Department-
sponsored event. In the spring of 1997, the
Bayou City Art Festival Memorial Park made its
debut and achieved the festival’s largest
attendance while celebrating its 25th
anniversary. Since then, ACA has produced two
festivals annually in Memorial Park and
Downtown Houston with growing attendance and attractions each year.
In 2011, both festivals were recognized as Sunshine Artist’s “200 Best” for the third consecutive year and received eight 2010 IFEA/Haas & Wilkerson Pinnacle Awards. Most recently, the Bayou City Art Festivals were recognized with nine marketing awards from the Texas Festivals & Event Association including Best Event Program, Best Event within an Existing Festival and Best New Fundraising Program.
In 2011, Bayou City Art Festival is commemorated its 40th year in Houston with Bayou City Art Festival Memorial Park on March 25 – 27 and Downtown on October 8-9.
The next two festivals will be taking place October 13 - 14, 2012 in Downtown and March 22 - 24, 2013.