Today the City of Charleston announced that it will receive an Our Town grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), one of only 51 grants awarded nationwide. Charleston will receive a $50,000 to create public art policies, guidelines and promotional programs.
Our Town is the NEA’s latest investment in “creative placemaking,” through which partners from both public and private sectors come together to strategically shape the social, physical and economic character of a neighborhood, town, city or region around arts and cultural activities.
The Charleston Public Art Project will entail four key outcomes including development of policies and guidelines for public art, a complete inventory of current public art including any short term and long term maintenance needs, outreach and promotions to market public art and establishing a local government arts development initiative to oversee implementation of policies and guidelines, future public art projects and encourage new public art installations.
“Communities across our country are using smart design and leveraging the arts to enhance quality of life and promote their distinctive identities,” said NEA Chairman Rocco Landeman. “In this time of great economic upheaval, Our Town provides communities an opportunity to reignite their economies.”
“Over the past decade, Charleston has taken several important steps to create a more vibrant community for the arts and culture with the creation of FestivALL, monthly Art Walks, opening of the Clay Center, investments in several public art projects and greater promotion of art and artists in our city,” said Charleston Mayor Danny Jones. “This grant – and the $100,000 partnership it creates – will help us get a deeper understanding of our current inventory of art and chart a course to build on our recent successes.
”The competitive grant application process was led by City Manager David Molgaard, City Purchasing Manager Shannon Milroy and Susie Salisbury, Vice President of community development for the Charleston Area Alliance. Matching funds and in-kind resources have been provided by Charleston Urban Renewal Authority, City of Charleston, Charleston Area Alliance and Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences West Virginia.
“Art is an essential element in creating a thriving community and can play a significant role in economic development,” said Alliance President/CEO Matt Ballard. “We congratulate all who contributed to securing this major grant, which will advance the city’s strong commitment to the arts and strengthen it as an attractive and inviting place in which to live, work and play. It’s a win-win for the arts community, citizens and business alike.”
“Public art not only makes a statement about the community, it enriches the lives of those within it. This grant from NEA will provide needed funds to promote our public art to our community and visitors. It will also serve as a catalyst to protect these wonderful community assets and to encourage installation of others,” stated Judy Wellington, President and CEO, Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences West Virginia.
“Everyone who has contributed or hopes to contribute to public art in Charleston is excited about this National Endowment for the Arts grant which will help to preserve and publicize our public art works. FestivALL joins many other organizations in thanking the NEA and congratulating Susie Salisbury and the Charleston Area Alliance for obtaining it,” said Larry Groce, executive director of FestivALL Charleston
“As the capital city of West Virginia, it is our responsibility to showcase and preserve the cultural hub of the state by establishing public art guidelines and sustainable maintenance plans. By setting this example, perhaps we can inspire other cities and communities to develop their own guidelines,” added Naomi Bays, chair of the Arts Council of Kanawha Valley.
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.