When National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Chairman Rocco Landesman arrived at the agency in 2009, he began a national conversation around “creative placemaking,” how cities and towns are using the arts to shape their social, physical, and economic characters.
Last week’s announcement of 80 Our Town grant awards represents the NEA’s latest investment in creative placemaking, totaling $4.995 million and reaching 44 states and the District of Columbia. Combined with grants from 2011, the NEA has invested $11.58 million in Our Town projects in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Through Our Town, the NEA supports creative placemaking projects that help transform communities into lively, beautiful, and sustainable places with the arts at their core. The grantee projects will improve quality of life, encourage creative activity, create community identity and a sense of place, and help revitalize local economies. All Our Town grant awards were made to partnerships that consisted of a minimum of a not-for-profit organization and a local government entity.
“Cities and towns are transformed when you bring the arts — both literally and figuratively — into the center of them,” said NEA Chairman Landesman. “From Teller, Alaska, to Miami, Florida, communities are pursuing creative placemaking, making their neighborhoods more vibrant and robust by investing in the performing, visual, and literary arts. I am proud to be partnering with these 80 communities and their respective arts, civic, and elected leaders.”
NEA Director of Design Jason Schupbach said, “It’s an exciting time for evolution and exploration in the creative peacemaking field, and I’m certain this year’s Our Town grants will bear fruit for their communities and lessons for the field as a whole.”
Now that Epicenter has been operating for three years and has a working relationship with Emery County and the City of Green River officials, we think we’ll be applying for this NEA grant next year. Also, our colleagues over at M12 have been awarded an Our Town grant this year! Congratulations! Side note: M12 was also chosen to participate in this year’s Venice Biennale!