The National Endowments for the Arts (NEA) announced the recipients for this year’s round of Our Town grants—a $5 million investment in creative placemaking all over the United States. Combining grants from 2011, the program has invested over $10 million in projects in all 50 states and Washington D.C.
This year, 80 applicants were chosen from a pool of 317 entries, which were all assigned to one of three panels: Arts Engagement-projects mainly focused on artistic production, Cultural Planning and Design-projects to build local support systems and spaces necessary for creative placemaking, and Non-metro and Tribal Communities-projects based in small communities not adjacent to metropolitan areas.
These panels allowed for a diverse set of winning projects, ranging from a new cultural heritage center in a remote village in Alaska to a new arts center to encourage community engagement in New Jersey, only 20 miles south of Manhattan. More than half of the 80 recipients were communities with populations less than 50,000 and five of the grants were given to communities with less than 1,000 residents. To date, the NEA has invested more than $4 billion to support artistic excellence, creativity and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities.
Regarding the large sum to be invested, NEA Chairman Landesman responded optimistically. “Cities and towns are transformed when you bring the arts—both literally and figuratively—into the center of them,” Landesman said in a 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.”
View all 80 winning projects at the NEA’s website.