Yesterday morning three local arts organizations found out they had a bit more money in the bank to transform their communities.
The National Endowment for the Arts awarded 80 "Our Town" grants to cities across the country to invest in creative placemaking.
The awards, given to cities in 44 states, totaled $4.995 million, and the Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture, ASU Art Museum, and Roosevelt Row CDC were given $100,000 to "reinforce the district's identity by improving the perception of safety, bringing artwork to the street, and creating connections and access to established institutions."
"The grant will be used to connect the dots in a lot of ways," says Ed Lebow, Director of Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture Public Art Program. "We're hoping to really work together to bolster the 'in between' spaces around Phoenix and build a new kind of cultural spine along the light rail and throughout the city."
The application for the grant was a collaboration of all three organizations and will be implemented by City of Phoenix Public Art Project Manager Rebecca Rothman. The grant money will ultimately be allocated to different projects that are in the works at all three institutions. Lebow says the Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture will be sending out a call for artist submissions within the next month.
ASU Art Museum curator Heather Lineberry says the grant will also help support the museum's upcoming programming in partnership with the City of Phoenix and Roosevelt Row.
In February, the museum will be home to an exhibition called "Rare Earth" with work by Phoenix-based artist Matt Moore and UK-based artist Clare Patey that will address sustainability issues, environmental challenges, and endangered elements.
"Rare Earth" will be on view in early February and Lineberry says Patey will return in the spring of 2013 for a Downtown "Feast on the Street" program inspired by her Feast on the Bridge, which shut down traffic for a day-long feast and celebration of community and sustainable food on the Southwark Bridge in London.
According to Kenny Barrett, Project Manager at Roosevelt Row CDC, the final portion of the grant money will further the organization's efforts to revitalize vacant space in Downtown Phoenix, which includes the A.R.T.S. Market and public programming.
"Cities and towns are transformed when you bring the arts -- both literally and figuratively -- into the center of them," wrote NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman in a public statement. "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."
Our Town grants were awarded to proposals made by partnerships that consisted of a minimum of a not-for-profit organization and a local government entity. And members of Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture, ASU Art Museum, and Roosevelt Row CDC all agree that the grant will continue to spark new partnerships and creative projects throughout Phoenix.
"Success builds on success," says Lebow. "And with the Placemaking grant that Roosevelt Row received this summer, and the Our Town grant announcement, it'll be exciting to see what kinds of changes we can continue to make."
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