The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has awarded 80 Our Town grants totaling $4.9 million across the country including projects in Charlotte, Kinston and Star, North Carolina.
The Our Town program supports creative placemaking projects that help transform communities into lively, beautiful, and sustainable places with the arts at the core. Projects revitalize downtowns and neighborhoods, instill a sense of place and pride in residents, attract creative workers and cultural travelers and create sustainable economic development.
Funding for the North Carolina projects total $250,000. Recipients include:
The Arts & Science Council in partnership with the City of Charlotte and the McColl Center for Visual Arts, have been awarded $100,000 to commission public artwork to help in the revitalization of the North Tryon Street Corridor in downtown Charlotte.
The City of Kinston, in partnership with the NC Arts Council, and the Kinston Community Council for the Arts, have been awarded $100,000 to finalize the African American Music Trail Park and promote connectivity around existing culturally significant African American music locations and the arts around downtown Kinston.
The STARworks Center for Creative Enterprise, the Town of Star and Central Park North Carolina have been awarded $50,000 in its effort to grow a vibrant glass arts community in the area, as well as launch a major event next spring.
“These projects show how a community with rich arts and a strong, unique sense of place can partner with state and local government and nonprofits to create economic growth,” said Wayne Martin, Executive Director of the North Carolina Arts Council. “These awards are a tribute to the vision of the leadership in Charlotte, Kinston and Star.”
The announcement from the NEA brings the total investment in creative placemaking to $11.5 million in Our Town projects in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The program, created by NEA Chair Rocco Landesman, started in 2011. “Cities and town are transformed when you bring the arts — both literally and figuratively — into the center of them,” Landesman said. “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.”
In Charlotte the grant will be used to improve the neighborhood livability of the North Tryon Street Corridor by commissioning public artwork as part of planned neighborhood revitalization initiatives, including a “green” streetscape infrastructure project. The partners will work with a selected artist and residents to integrate the environmentally based artwork into the new streetscape plan, and into a proposed urban farm project by local partners Vision Ventures and Cultivatis.
Project activities will include an artist selection process, a three-month residency for an environmental artist to work with local citizens and stakeholders, and the design, fabrication, and installation of public art. Together these projects will position the North Tryon Street Corridor as a model for sustainable initiatives in Charlotte, benefiting the entire center city area as well as approximately 2,700 residents, 562 businesses and more than 5,500 employees in the neighborhood.
“The Our Town grant and partnership with the City of Charlotte and McColl Center for Visual Art provides a unique opportunity to revitalize a central neighborhood through creative placemaking,” said ASC President Scott Provancher. “We are excited to help transform the North Tryon Street Corridor for future generations.”
In Kinston the project has three major components: Finishing the design and construction of the music park, creating a new African American Music Trails cultural district along South Queen Street; Connecting culturally significant areas that are directly related to the trails as well as other arts-centered areas around downtown Kinston; and continued planning for the development and the promotion of the music trails project.
“This is a great opportunity to put Kinston and the arts on the national stage,” said Kinston Mayor BJ Murphy. “This is further proof that the African American Music Trails is having a tremendous impact on Kinston and the region. I am proud to see a project funded that highlights the cultural contributions of Kinston’s African American community.”
The Kinston Community Council for the Arts was an early partner with the N.C. Arts Council in documenting the African American musical traditions in the region. “It is to the credit of the musicians, community stakeholders, the City of Kinston and the N.C. Arts Council to have faith in our belief that that the arts not only impact the quality of life in a community but are key catalysts in economic and tourism development,” said Sandy Landis, Executive Director of the Kinston Community Council for the Arts.
Central Park North Carolina (CPNC) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting an economy based on the sustainable use of natural and cultural resources. The region is nestled near the Uwharrie Mountains, and the eight counties of Anson, Davidson, Montgomery, Moore, Randolph, Richmond, Rowan, and Stanly surrounding the Yadkin-Pee-Dee River.
Starworks is located in Montgomery County and is a 187,000 square foot former textile mill site converted into the Center for Creative Enterprises where there are ceramic and glass studios as well as other entrepreneurial businesses in agriculture, and alternative energy.
“Primarily, this funding will allow us to launch a major event next spring that we’re calling FireFest,” said Nancy Gottovi, executive director of CPNC. “FireFest will celebrate the role of fire in the creation of art, with a focus on sculpture.”
FireFest has been in the works for some time and NEA Funds will allow the region to grow a vibrant glass arts community in Star, Gottovia said.
“We are thrilled to have STARworks in our community,” said Star Mayor Susan Eggleston. “We are especially excited about this project that promises to bring thousands of people to our town. Growing a glass community here fits perfectly with the work we are doing to revitalize Star.”
The NEA received 317 applications for the Our Town program in three primary categories: Arts engagement, Cultural Planning and design; non-metro and tribal communities.
For a complete listing of projects recommended for Our Town grant support, please visit the NEA web site at (www.arts.gov).
Media contacts for North Carolina Projects:
Charlotte: Krista Terrell, Arts & Science Council, e-mail at (Krista.firstname.lastname@example.org) or call 704/335-3035
Kinston: Sandy Landis, Community Council for the Arts, e-mail at (email@example.com) or call 252/527-2517
Central Park: Rhonda McCanless, e-mail at (Rhonda@centralparknc.org) or call 910/428-9001
The North Carolina Arts Council works to make North Carolina The Creative State where a robust arts industry produces a creative economy, vibrant communities, children prepared for the 21st century and lives filled with discovery and learning. The Arts Council accomplishes this in partnership with artists and arts organizations, other organizations that use the arts to make their communities stronger and North Carolinians—young and old—who enjoy and participate in the arts. For more information visit (www.ncarts.org).
The NC Arts Council is a division of the NC Department of Cultural Resources, which annually serves more than 19 million people through its 27 historic sites, seven history museums, two art museums, the nation’s first state-supported Symphony Orchestra, the State Library, the NC Arts Council, and the State Archives. The NC Department of Cultural Resources serves as a champion for North Carolina’s creative industry, which employs nearly 300,000 North Carolinians and contributes more than $41 billion to the state’s economy. To learn more, visit (www.ncculture.com).