Wednesday, July 13, 2011

NEA"s "Our Town" grants supports creativity in our towns

Artist's rendering of Casper's Sunshine II development that will include an arts space for resident and neighbors
Here's a whole lot of creative placemaking that will be supported by almost $7 million in "Our Town" grants from the National Endowment for the Arts:

One of those is a $50,000 grant for Casper to develop a public art space alongside the 26-unit Sunshine Apartments II development now under construction. The site is across from the Nicolaysen Art Museum and just west of where the now-demolished KC Apartments were located. Some of you may remember the rundown KC Apartments as a slumlord-run blight on the neighborhood that mercifully was closed down by the city and then demolished.    

The new Sunshine II low-income development feature LEED-certified buildings and now an arts space. 
Project organizers envision the space as a gathering spot for apartment residents and the surrounding community. The museum also intends to create educational and outreach programs for the site. 
“It’s part and parcel with a whole mindset or plan for downtown Casper on how to integrate arts with our everyday lives,” said museum Curator Lisa Hatchadoorian. 
Hatchadoorian isn’t aware of any other public art spaces in Wyoming tied to low-income housing. Organizers hope their project will encourage similar efforts in other parts of the state.

“It’s a community-building experience,” she said. “A lot of times, when you have a public art space where people can interact, it just brings everyone ... it makes the community more available to each other. It just makes a better place to live.”
Read more:

Another one of the NEA's "Our Town" grants goes to a neat "arts incubator" project just down the road from Cheyenne in Fort Collins, Colo.:
To support the creation of the Rocky Mountain Regional Arts Incubator (RMRAI) in the historic Carnegie building in downtown Fort Collins. The RMRAI will offer students and professionals a multitude of services to assist them in creating, redefining, and sustaining their creative careers in the new economy, including educational courses, internships, continuing education for practicing artists, and gallery and performance spaces.
The project is a collaboration among the non-profit Beet Street, the City of Fort Collins Cultural Services Department and the Colorado State University School of the Arts. The incubator will be located in the Carnegie Building in the city's Library Park.

The Beet Street web site doesn't say, but the org's name probably trades on Fort Collins' aggie reputation, namely its years as a center of sugar beet production. CSU got its start as Colorado A&M, home of a fantastic veterinary school and lots of farming and ranching courses. That's what the big "A" up on the mountain stands for. CSU grew into a place where the arts shared a campus with the aggie arts. What's interesting is that the university (my alma mater) now is investing heavily in green technology and sustainable agriculture, putting the A&M back into the name in new and interesting ways.

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