National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Chairman Jane Chu announced 69 Our Town awards totaling almost $5 million through the Our Town program’s fifth year of funding. DesignAlabama is one of those recommended organizations and will receive $50,000 for its statewide Connect-LIVE-ity Project. The NEA received 275 applications for Our Town this year and will make grants ranging from $25,000 to $200,000.
The Our Town grant program supports creative place-making projects that help to transform communities into lively, beautiful, and resilient places with the arts at their core. Since the program’s inception in 2011 and including these projects, the NEA will have awarded 325 Our Town grants totaling almost $26 million in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia.
Connect-LIVE-ity is a framework to connect Alabama towns; a framework to build new opportunity through travel itineraries – connections! These connections will be examined through a series of six regional design charrettes which will take place throughout the state in 2016. The charrettes will examine local/regional assets for collective reasons to visit – for a day, a weekend, a week – our great small towns. The goal: itineraries, AND, long-range plans to help regions develop their assets/attractions; as well as, tools for recruiting the amenities necessary for tourism, and for thriving, livable places that can then attract entrepreneurs, retirees and new businesses with their livability.
DesignAlabama demonstrates the best in creative community development and whose work will have a valuable impact on its community,” said Chairman Chu. “Through Our Town funding, arts organizations continue to spark vitality that support neighborhoods and public spaces, enhancing a sense of place for residents and visitors alike.”
“Without the NEA grant and support from the Alabama State Council on the Arts and local community partners, this could not happen,” said Cathy Gerachis, Chair of DesignAlabama and Senior Landscape Architect with Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood. “Connect-LIVE-ity will identify regional historic, natural resources and arts-related tourism resources and create new opportunities for community economic growth and livability.”
The first regional meeting will be held in February 2016 in Dothan. Locations for the other five regional meetings include Valley, Jasper, Camden, Athens and with one more community being announced in the coming weeks. For a complete listing of projects recommended for Our Town grant support, please visit the NEA web site at arts.gov. Project descriptions, grants listed by state and by project type, and resources are available as well. The NEA’s online resource, Exploring Our Town, features case studies of more than 70 Our Town projects along with lessons learned and otherresources.