More than 50 communities throughout the U.S. will receive a chunk of more than $6.5 million in federal funding for public arts initiatives and restoration projects as part of the new “Our Town” grant program, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) announced today. The grants range from $25,000 to $250,000 and require local governments and private community organizations to work in tandem to carry out the projects.
The settings of the selected sites run the gamut: Wormfarm Institute, Inc. was awarded $50,000 for art installations along roads in rural Reedsburg, WI. (pop. 7,827); the city of Tacoma, WA (pop. 200,000) received $200,000 for the restoration of a museum plaza; and New York City Department of Cultural Affairs was granted $200,000 for artist-in-residence programs at senior centers throughout the city. “We’re working with your local assets—who is in your backyard that can impact your community,” said NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman during a press announcement this afternoon. “The size of the community doesn’t matter.”
According to Landesman, studies repeatedly show that investments in the arts and culture have positive returns in other spheres of community engagement. “The arts become a real force for civic cohesion,” he said. Arts and cultural programming has been linked to higher voting rates and lower levels of juvenile delinquency and truancy.
The winning projects were selected from a pool of 447 applications. Landesman said the NEA plans to offer another round of “Our Town” grants next year.