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DATE:             November 17, 2011
CONTACT:    Victoria Hutter,, 202-682-5692
Grants include Art Works and creative writing fellowships
Rapid City, South Dakota—At a public panel discussion in Rapid City, South Dakota, today, National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Rocco Landesman announced that the agency will award 863 grants to organizations and individual writers across the country. The awards total $22.543 million, encompass 15 artistic disciplines and fields, and support projects in 47 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.
Of those 863 grants awards, 823 are for projects at not-for-profit organizations that are creating works of art through commissions and artists residencies; engaging the public with works of art through exhibitions, tours, and festivals; furthering lifelong learning in the arts in schools, communities, and at arts organizations; or increasing community livability through the arts.
The remaining 40 awards are made to individual writers who will receive creative writing fellowships totaling $1 million. Designed to give writers the time and freedom to pursue their work, the creative writing fellowships are the NEA’s most direct investment in America’s artists. The new fellows come from 20 states and the District of Columbia.
“Art Works is the guiding principle at the NEA,” said agency Chairman Rocco Landesman. “And I’m pleased to see that principle represented through the 823 Art Works-funded projects included in this announcement. These projects demonstrate the imaginative and innovative capacities of artists and arts organizations to enhance the quality of life in their communities.”
In March 2011, the NEA received 1,686 eligible applications for Art Works requesting more than $84 million in funding. The resulting funding rate of 49 percent of eligible applications reflects both the significant demand for support and the ongoing vitality of the not-for-profit arts community despite current financial challenges. The competition for the fellowships is even more acute with 1,179 applications received. Art Works grants and the creative writing fellowships are awarded based on the applications received by the NEA and how those applications are assessed by the review panels.
Examples of projects funded through Art Works are:
In Omaha, Nebraska, the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts will receive a $20,000 grant in a consortium project with Heartland Family Services that centers on artist residencies. Fourteen artists from a variety of disciplines will work with one of 11 social service programsto provide two-way engagement through art.
The Tucson Symphony Society in Arizona will receive a $10,000 grant for its Young Composers Project. Students will learn to compose works for orchestra, culminating in a reading and recording of their pieces by the Tucson Symphony Chamber Orchestra or the Tucson String Quintet.
Project H Design in Windsor, North Carolina, will receive a $40,000 grant to support Studio H, a community design/build and public education program in rural Bertie County.Sixteen high school students will design and build a contextually responsive architecture project to house programming that benefits the public.
Michigan State University in East Lansing will receive a $40,000 grant to support the 2012 Great Lakes Folk Festival. In collaboration with the City of East Lansing, the university will produce a festival that showcases the traditional arts and cultures of the nation’s Upper Midwest and highlights the adaptive reuse inherent in traditional culture.
University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg, Missouri, will receive a $15,000 grant for its 2012 Show-Me Justice Film Festival.  Films will include feature-length narratives, animated, and documentary films, as well as short films that address issues of social injustice. 
In Anchorage, the Alaska SeaLife Center will receive a $34,000 grant to support GYRE, an exhibition that will engage artists and scientists in the global problem of marine debris. In partnership with the Anchorage Museum, a group of artists will accompany a team on a research expedition to learn about the impact of marine debris on various ecosystems.
American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, Massachusetts, will receive a $40,000 grant to support the world premiere of Futurity: A Musical by the Lisps. This work will fuse traditional American folk music, Brechtian choral elements, and The Lisps’ eccentric indie-rock to tell the story of a young Union soldier in the Civil War who is an aspiring inventor and science fiction visionary.
The College of Saint Benedict in St. Joseph, Minnesota, will receive a $30,000 grant to support a project with the dance company Abraham in Motion and performance troupe Spirit of Uganda for activities in partnership with the Boys and Girls Club of Central Minnesota and the local school district. 
In Pasadena, California, the Armory Center for the Arts will receive a $35,000 grant to support the exhibition Water, CA.Artist collectives and individual artists will exhibit works, stage performances, and convene events to broaden the public's understanding of California’s water use history and the changing role of contemporary art practice in society.
Please see the complete listing of projects recommended for Art Works grant support.
The panelists who reviewed the 1,179 applications for literature fellowship noted several trends in the winning manuscripts that reflect those in the larger publishing world including narratives concerning Hurricane Katrina, immigration, and service members struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder. Among the 40 literature fellows for 2012 are Veronica Chambers of Hoboken, New York; Jennifer Haigh of Hull, Maine; Karen Fisher of Lopez Island, Washington; and Sarah A. Strickley of Houston, Texas.
Please see the complete listing of writers recommended for Creative Writing fellowships.
The NEA grantmaking process for both of these categories takes approximately nine months and is an effective, thorough, balanced, and equitable process. The NEA convenes outside experts (plus one lay person) into groups that balance the professional perspectives on a given field plus diversity in geography, gender, and ethnic background. Panels are organized by artistic discipline. Panelists review all materials including work samples and convene in Washington, DC to discuss and score each application. The panels’ recommendations are considered by the National Council on the Arts, the NEA’s advisory body, and the NEA chairman before final approval.
The National Endowment for the Arts was established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government. To date, the NEA has awarded more than $4 billion to support artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities. The NEA extends its work through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector.  To join the discussion on how art works, visit the NEA at

For immediate release: July 12, 2011

Media Contact: Victoria Hutter, 202-682-5692,
Program Contact: Jamie Hand, 202-682-5566,
NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman Announces Inaugural Our Town Grants
More than $6.5 million to be invested in 51 communities that are supporting the arts as part of a community revitalization strategy

Washington, DC - Today, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) announced the inaugural round of "Our Town" funding, totaling $6.575 million in grants to 51 communities in 34 states that have created public-private partnerships to strengthen the arts while shaping the social, physical, and economic characters of their neighborhoods, towns, cities, and regions. NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman made the announcement during an online press conference.

Chairman Landesman said, "Communities across our country are investing in the arts and smart design to enhance Americans' quality of life and to promote the distinctive identities of our communities. Our Town creates partnerships among local governments and arts and design organizations to strengthen the creative sector and help revitalize the overall community."

NEA's Director of Design Jason Schupbach noted, "Creative placemaking is a strategy for making places vibrant. Arts and design are essential parts of the complex work of building a livable, sustainable community."

Our Town grants range from $25,000 to $250,000 and represent a range of rural, suburban, and urban communities with populations ranging from just over 2,000 people to more than 8.2 million people. More than half of the Our Town grants were awarded to communities with a population of less than 200,000, and seven to communities of fewer than 25,000 people. Grants were awarded for planning, design, and arts engagement projects that strengthen arts organizations while increasing the livability of communities across America.

By requiring a partnership between local government and an arts or design organization, Our Town encourages creative, cross sector solutions to the challenges facing towns, cities, and the arts community.

Examples of projects receiving Our Town grants:

East Bay Center for the Performing Arts in Richmond, California,will receive $150,000 to support the commissioning of an interactive art installation by new media artist Scott Snibbe, which will feature professionally choreographed and video-recorded movements of Richmond youth, reflecting both the diversity of the local population and the multicultural dance, rhythm, and performance programs taught and performed at the Center.

ArtPrize in Grand Rapids, Michigan, will receive $100,000 to support its annual art competition, which invites artists from around the world to exhibit their work in museums, businesses, restaurants, stores, parks, and other existing spaces within a three-square-mile area of Grand Rapids during a free, two-week festival.

The City of Wilson, North Carolina will receive $250,000 to support the repair and conservation of internationally recognized artist Vollis Simpson's original large-scale "Whirligigs," which are kinetic sculptures. The project will serve as a national model by generating new employment and training opportunities associated with the conservation of these vernacular artworks.

Ballroom Marfa in Marfa, Texas, will receive $250,000 to support a multi-stage improvement plan for Vizcaino County Park, which is on several acres of scenic desert on the northeastern edge of town. The park will be a permanent home for Marfa's "Drive-In," a new outdoor venue for music, film, and performing arts.

Wormfarm Institute in Reedsburg, Wisconsin, will receive $50,000 to support the planning, piloting, and evaluation of their "Farm/Art D-Tour." Guided and self-led tours will take place along rural roads in northern Sauk County, Wisconsin, featuring farm-based, ephemeral art installations and performances; artist-designed-and-built mobile farm stands; and interpretative signage about rural culture and the local arts, food, and farming communities.

See the complete listing of Our Town grants.

Our Town builds on the NEA's 25-year history of investment in creative placemaking, which has included:

The Mayors' Institute on City Design®, run in partnership with the American Architectural Foundation and the U.S. Conference of Mayors, which connects mayors and design professionals to tackle communities' most pressing design challenges.

The MICD 25th Anniversary Initiative, for which 21 grants totaling $3 million were announced in July 2010. The grants focused in four specific areas: reuse of abandoned space, commissioning public art, cultural district planning, and new ways of designing infrastructure.

Your Town: The Citizens' Institute on Rural Design, managed in partnership with the faculty of Landscape Architecture at SUNY Syracuse, which provides local leaders in rural areas the tools they need to wisely direct the physical growth of their communities.

A panel discussion on creative placemaking, held in September 2010, that examined the role of the arts and the creative community in creating livable, sustainable communities. Participants included Richard Florida, Author, The Great Reset and The Rise of the Creative Class; Tim Jones, President & CEO, Toronto Artscape; Rick Lowe, Founder, Project Row Houses, Houston, Texas; and Ann Markusen, Professor and Director, Project on Regional and Industrial Economics at the University of Minnesota's Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs.

Creative Placemaking, a white paper by Ann Markusen and Anne Gadwa that summarizes two decades of creative placemaking in the U.S., drawing on original economic research and case studies of path-breaking initiatives in communities of all sizes.

Live from Your Neighborhood: A National Study of Outdoor Arts Festivals, an NEA report that examines the range and variety of arts festivals in the U.S., the artists they employ, the communities they serve, and the roles they play in shaping our cities, towns, and neighborhoods.

The National Endowment for the Arts was established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government. To date, the NEA has awarded more than $4 billion to support artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities. The NEA extends its work through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector. For more information, go to





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