By Allyson Freeman
Cities interested in using art as a strategy for neighborhood revival and economic development have to look no farther than ArtPlace - a unique collaboration between private foundations, government agencies, and financial institutions to provide grants that accelerate creative placemaking across the United States.
ArtPlace is currently seeking applications for their third round of grant funding. With a focus on diversity and vibrancy in the projects they choose, the organization looks specifically to plans that involve partnerships between artists and cultural groups with other public and private community partners. This can mean anything from the creation of a new urban park with large-scale art installations, to a series of community outreach programs by a city's philharmonic orchestra.
The idea of creative placemaking has existed for more than two decades, but has recently become an increasingly popular local strategy to aid struggling neighborhoods. Placemaking uses the arts as an avenue to boost local economic development and drive community revitalization. ArtPlace describes the concept as "a means of investing in art and culture at the heart of a portfolio of integrated strategies." These strategies are able to "drive vibrancy and diversity so powerful that it transforms communities."
In their first two rounds of funding, ArtPlace awarded grants to 77 organizations in more than 40 communities across the country. Examples of successful ventures include The Hunger Cycle in Los Angeles, a six-year series of world premiere plays about hunger, justice, and food equity issues; Farm/Art DTour - a 50-mile self-guided tour of farm-based art installations, mobile culture stands and pasture performances in Sauk County, WI and The Porch at 30th Street Station in Philadelphia, a vibrant new public space outside the nation's 2nd busiest train station.
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter is a strong advocate of placemaking as a strategy to reinvigorate neighborhoods. In addition to The Porch project, ArtPlace has funded four other initiatives in Philadelphia for a total of $1.62 million in grants awarded. "Creative placemaking is a powerful way to make our communities more desirable places to be so that people will invest there," Nutter said.
Communities and cities are eligible to apply for up to $1 million in grant funding from ArtPlace. Letters of Inquiry for the third round of funding will be accepted through November 1, 2012. To apply for an ArtPlace grant visit www.artplaceamerica.org/loi for complete guidelines and to submit an online application.
Details: ArtPlace is the collaboration of 11 major national and regional foundations, eight federal agencies, and is supported by six of the nation's largest financial institutions. For more information on ArtPlace, a description of their projects and grant recipients, and a list of participating foundations and partners visit: www.artplaceamerica.org.