To cross borders, sustain dialogue and incite social justice through art.
is a unique cultural organization that brings to Houston the most
diverse and progressive voices of the international writers, artists,
and activists. As an exiled Iranian novelist, VBB feels like "home" to
Farnoosh Moshiri, author of four novels including The Bathhouse and
Voices Breaking Boundaries (VBB) was founded in 2000 after Sehba Sarwar wrote a poem in 1999 about political events unfolding in Pakistan. Looking for a space to perform her work, she invited four women writers/ artists - Marcela Descalzi, Jacsun Shah, Donna Perkins and Christine Choi - to join her in starting a literary collective. Sarwar received project grants from the Houston Arts Alliance (then called Cultural Arts Council of Houston/Harris County). Using project funds, the collective started hosting readings at a Houston bookstore. that morphed into performances that included open mic, music and dance.
In 2002, after incorporating as a non-profit arts organization, Sarwar was offered office and performance space at DiverseWorks, where VBB started its popular Words for Peace series. In 2004, VBB moved to a shotgun home at Project Row Houses, where the organization continued to offer workshops, performances, and exhibitions. After incubating at the Houston Arts Alliance (2006-10), VBB moved into its own office space in Montrose and refined its productions to explore parallels and create connections between South Asia and neighborhoods around Houston. During VBB's early years, Sarwar co-hosted a weekly radio show on KPFT Pacifica Radio 90.1 FM.
VBB is known for its art car, open mic sessions, workshops, and its innovative multidiscilpinary experimental living room art productions, initiated by artist and then staff member Oskar Sonnen. The productions were further developed and envisioned by Artistic/Founding Director Sehba Sarwar. Always global in its vision, VBB's art productions examine issues connected to education, race, women's rights, demography changes and much more. VBB's smaller productions are opportunities for Houston-based artists to share their perspecitves on matters that directly touch their lives. Since 2013, VBB has also undertaken the publication of high-quality publications that showcase VBB's art productions and include essays, poems and poems by writers, poets, academics, and community members.
Over the years, VBB has collaborated with many local and national arts, education, media and social services organizations including Avenue CDC, Arte Público Press, Houston Institute for Culture, Houston Global Awareness Coalition, Neighborhood Centers, Inc., Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, Geo TV (Pakistan), KPFT Pacifica Radio 90.1 FM, The Museum of Fine Arts Houston’s Film Department and many more. VBB reaches a faithful audience of about 50 for its small intimate events, and up to 200 persons for larger living room art productions.
To learn more about VBB's past productions, click here. To read about Sehba Sarwar's inspiration to start VBB, click here.