Washington, DC - Today, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) announced the inaugural round of "Our Town" funding, totaling $6.575 million in grants to 51 communities in 34 states that have created public-private partnerships to strengthen the arts while shaping the social, physical, and economic characters of their neighborhoods, towns, cities, and regions. NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman made the announcement during an online press conference.
Chairman Landesman said, "Communities across our country are investing in the arts and smart design to enhance Americans' quality of life and to promote the distinctive identities of our communities. Our Town creates partnerships among local governments and arts and design organizations to strengthen the creative sector and help revitalize the overall community."
NEA's Director of Design Jason Schupbach noted, "Creative placemaking is a strategy for making places vibrant. Arts and design are essential parts of the complex work of building a livable, sustainable community."
Our Town grants range from $25,000 to $250,000 and represent a range of rural, suburban, and urban communities with populations ranging from just over 2,000 people to more than 8.2 million people. More than half of the Our Town grants were awarded to communities with a population of less than 200,000, and seven to communities of fewer than 25,000 people. Grants were awarded for planning, design, and arts engagement projects that strengthen arts organizations while increasing the livability of communities across
By requiring a partnership between local government and an arts or design organization, Our Town encourages creative, cross sector solutions to the challenges facing towns, cities, and the arts community.
Examples of projects receiving Our Town grants:
East Bay Center for the Performing Arts in Richmond, California, will receive $150,000 to support the commissioning of an interactive art installation by new media artist Scott Snibbe, which will feature professionally choreographed and video-recorded movements of Richmond youth, reflecting both the diversity of the local population and the multicultural dance, rhythm, and performance programs taught and performed at the Center.
ArtPrize in Grand Rapids, Michigan, will receive $100,000 to support its annual art competition, which invites artists from around the world to exhibit their work in museums, businesses, restaurants, stores, parks, and other existing spaces within a three-square-mile area of Grand Rapids during a free, two-week festival.
|Vollis Simpson's "Whirlygigs" outside Wilson, N.C.|
Ballroom Marfa in
|One of the Wormfarm Institute's Roadside Culture Stands|
See the complete listing of Our Town grants.
Our Town builds on the NEA's 25-year history of investment in creative placemaking, which has included:
The Mayors' Institute on City Design®, run in partnership with the American Architectural Foundation and the U.S. Conference of Mayors, which connects mayors and design professionals to tackle communities' most pressing design challenges.
The MICD 25th Anniversary Initiative, for which 21 grants totaling $3 million were announced in July 2010. The grants focused in four specific areas: reuse of abandoned space, commissioning public art, cultural district planning, and new ways of designing infrastructure.
Your Town: The Citizens' Institute on Rural Design, managed in partnership with the faculty of Landscape Architecture at SUNY Syracuse, which provides local leaders in rural areas the tools they need to wisely direct the physical growth of their communities.
A panel discussion on creative placemaking, held in September 2010, that examined the role of the arts and the creative community in creating livable, sustainable communities. Participants included Richard Florida, Author, The Great Reset and The Rise of the Creative Class; Tim Jones, President & CEO, Toronto Artscape; Rick Lowe, Founder, Project Row Houses, Houston, Texas; and Ann Markusen, Professor and Director, Project on Regional and Industrial Economics at the University of Minnesota's Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs.
Creative Placemaking, a white paper by Ann Markusen and Anne Gadwa that summarizes two decades of creative placemaking in the
Live from Your Neighborhood: A National Study of Outdoor Arts Festivals, an NEA report that examines the range and variety of arts festivals in the U.S., the artists they employ, the communities they serve, and the roles they play in shaping our cities, towns, and neighborhoods.
The National Endowment for the Arts was established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government. To date, the NEA has awarded more than $4 billion to support artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities. The NEA extends its work through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector. For more information, go to arts.gov.