When VBB hosted our first literary reading in 2000, we never anticipated that we would go on to becoming a nationally celebrated alternative arts organization. Back in 1998, Sehba Sarwar had written a poem and was looking for a place to perform it. In 1999, she invited 4 women writer/poet friends - Marcela Descalzi, Jacsun Shah, Donna Perkins and Christine Choi - to join her to set up a single reading.
After numerous meetings in coffee shops around the city, the women decided on Voices Breaking Boundaries as the name for their group, and Sehba applied for an Artist Project Grant through the Houston Arts Alliance (previously CACHH) grant to fund the reading. She was awarded $4,500. With money in their pocket, the Core Group, as the women referred to themselves, decided to host a series of events rather than just one. A bookstore in southwest Houston donated a space, and VBB began producing readings and open mics where the Core Group also performed their own work. By Fall 2000, after Sehba received her second CACHH grant to run the series, the lineup included music and the voices of young artists. Through the grant money received, the VBB Core Group was able to pay honoraria to all featured artists. Sehba's then-high school student Eric Hester designed the flyers and the group kept adding to its mailing list.
In February 2001, when VBB closed out its first film festival, a collaboration with Himal South Asia in Nepal and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Core Group decided to file for non-profit status so VBB could apply for more funding.
Since its inception, VBB has received donated office, exhibition and performance space from DiverseWorks Artspace and Project Row Houses. And from 2006-Summer 2010, VBB office was housed at the Houston Arts Alliance as an Incubator organization. We are now in our own office space in Houston's Montrose neighborhood.
After completing our first Strategic Plan in 2012, VBB streamlined our productions and created a new series called Live Art that focuses on local, international and national issues and includes film screenings and panel discussions. VBB also researches and develops larger bi-annual productions that are presented to the community as living room art (LRA) productions, which are developed through ongoing collaborations between VBB and local/international artists. To create our LRA projects, we work with artists to transform residential spaces for a single day by connecting multimedia art, histories, and communities. The end of every season culminates in a documentary, interactive website, and publications recapping the season and further exploring issues raised in our productions.
Join VBB on this journey and help us to rediscover the world around us!