The social, economic, and health tolls of the COVID-19 pandemic have resulted in empty city streets, American communities struggling with physical and mental health challenges, and profound economic disruption. This new initiative, Improving Community Health and Resilience through the Arts, will leverage the power of the arts to support city leaders’ efforts to improve the health, cohesion, and resilience of their communities.   

The National League of Cities (NLC) Institute for Youth, Education, and Families (YEF Institute), in partnership with the One Nation/One Project (ONOP) initiative and with the engagement of Community Health Centers (CHCs), invites cities, towns, and villages, to participate in spurring creative artworks in their respective communities to improve community conditions and ensure: “There’s no place like home.”  An initial cohort of nine communities will be selected through this request for proposals. Deadline for Letters of Intent is December 17, 2021 and for applications, February 4, 2022. 

This initiative will help your municipality build sustainable partnerships between local government, artists, CHCs, and the communities hit hardest by the pandemic to renew public spaces, create economic opportunities, and holistically improve community wellbeing.  

community mural

Impetus for Action and the Role of Local Leadership

By bringing together local government and the arts and health sectors through unique partnerships in each city, ONOP will use a large-scale arts and wellness initiative to rebuild the social fabric of recovering communities across our nation.  

This project will deliver evidence-based benefits of the arts, such as: 

  • Improved health outcomes
  • Strengthened social bonds 
  • New, equitable employment opportunities  

City Participation and Support 

Each participating city will be supported through extensive context-specific technical, artistic and organizational assistance from ONOP’s national team, which is spearheaded by formidable artistic leaders and production partners. 

This initiative seeks a broad range of creative ideas for projects – and those including broad public participation from ideation to implementation are encouraged.   

Support provided to selected sites will include:  

  • Funding for early phase planning 
  • Artistic guidance 
  • Connections to national artists 
  • Technical support 
  • Documentation and research support 
  • Peer-to-Peer support and hands-on assistance 
  • Dissemination and distribution 

Eligibility and application requirements include: 

  • Commitment to leverage local American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Funding – Participating cities, towns, and villages will allocate at least 2% of their respective ARPA funds, with a minimum commitment of $500,000, to support an arts and wellness project within their respective communities. A submitted application affirms that your municipality is committed to the use of these resources.  
  • Ability to assemble an effective core team- which includes a combination of top city executives (mayor, city manager) and/or cabinet-level city staff and senior departmental staff, local artists and/or local arts organizations, leaders from local CHCs, community representatives, and leaders from other key partner organizations (e.g., community-based organizations, business leaders, etc.). 
  • Commitment of support by the mayor and or city manager 
  • Commitment by local project team to participate in quarterly peer-to-peer engagements 

How to apply for the Improving Community Health and Resilience through the Arts Cohort

NLC is currently accepting Letters of Interest and applications for this Improving Community Health and Resilience through the Arts Cohort.  The deadline for Letters of Interest is December 17, 2021.  The application deadline is February 4, 2022.

  • Interested applicants are encouraged to submit a letter of interest from their Mayor or City Manager to coo@nlc.org by December 17, 2021.
  • Before submitting your application, review the Request for Proposal (RFP) to learn more about the initiative and key information required to start your application. 
  • Once you’ve reviewed the RFP and gathered your requirements, you may start your application. 

The Improving Community Health and Resilience through the Arts initiative is made possible with the generous support of the One Nation/One Project (ONOP) and Community Health Centers (CHCs).