Arts Council received NEA Our Town Grant

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Arts Council of New Orleans one of 66 National Endowment for the Arts  Our Town projects selected nationwide 

National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Chairman Jane Chu announced plans to award 66 Our Town grants totaling $5.073 million and reaching 38 states in the Our Town program’s fourth year of funding. The Arts Council of New Orleans is one of those recommended organizations and will receive $150,000 to support a pilot Youth Solutions project, a cross-sector, collaborative design-build project utilizing artists, designers and youth as creative catalysts for change within the New Orleans community. The initiative aims to empower youth through skill building and leadership, enhancing a sense of local identity and attachment through culturally relevant place making.

This year’s Our Town projects demonstrate again that excellent art is as fundamental to a community’s success as land-use, transportation, education, housing, infrastructure, and public safety, helping build stronger communities that are diverse in geography and character. Our Town funds arts -based community development projects in a way that is authentic, equitable, and augments existing local assets. Since Our Town’s inception in 2011 and including these projects, the NEA will have awarded 256 Our Town grants totaling more than $21 million in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

“Arts and culture have always been an essential part of New Orleans and our neighborhoods. I congratulate the Arts Council on securing this national funding to further integrate the arts into our place-based planning efforts. We look forward to working with them on this outstanding project,” said Mayor Mitch Landrieu.

The Arts Council of New Orleans has partnered with the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Economy, New Orleans Health Department, Louisiana Public Health Institute, Tulane City Center and the Louisiana branch of National Organization of Minority Architects to build a strategic framework for Youth Solutions.

Charlotte Parent, Director of Health for the City of New Orleans, said: “I congratulate the Arts Council on their 2014 Our Town award from the National Endowment for the Arts. We know that the built environment is a powerful determinant of health outcomes and that we can improve health and wellbeing by modifying public spaces. With their Our Town project, the Arts Council has an exciting vision of how art can create healthy, safe spaces. We are excited to offer our support for this project and look forward to working alongside the Arts Council to help make it a reality.”

Our Town funding would support Youth Solutions’ pilot phase. The project seeks to access and deploy artists as creative change agents while teaching underserved youth valuable art and design skills through which neighborhoods are improved and an awareness around how collaborative and art-driven efforts can affect the process of building healthy and vibrant urban communities.

“Arts Council of New Orleans demonstrates the best in creative community development and whose work will have a valuable impact on its community,” said Chairman Chu. “Through Our Town funding, arts organizations continue to spark vitality that support neighborhoods and public spaces, enhancing a sense of place for residents and visitors alike.”

“Together with our partners we hope to harness the unconventional thinking of artists and youths to explore what is possible for New Orleans” Kim Cook, Arts Council President and CEO said. “We believe Youth Solutions can also provide a constructive means of trauma intervention and will use this pilot phase as an opportunity to acquire evidence of the benefits provided to youth when they are empowered to positively impact their own environment.”

The NEA received 275 applications for Our Town this year. Recommended grant amounts ranged from $25,000 to $200,000.

For a complete listing of projects recommended for Our Town grant support, please visit the NEA web site at arts.gov. Project descriptions, grants listed by state and by project type, and resources are available as well. The Twitter hashtag is #NEAOurTown14

Arts Council of New Orleans is a private, non-profit organization designated as the City’s official arts agency. As a multidisciplinary arts agency, the Arts Council operates in three conceptual areas: People- Community Engagement and the Creative Citizen, Place- Civic Design and the Urban Aesthetic, and Artists- Artistic Excellence and Creative Services. Each area works to advance the Arts Council’s overall mission to nurture creativity and enrich lives through inspiration, connection, transformation, and investment in the New Orleans arts and cultural community.

For more information on Youth Solutions, the Arts Council of New Orleans, or to join as a member of the organization call: (504) 523-1465 or visit: www.artscouncilofneworleans.org 

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