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November 28, 2018

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Alliance Members Receive 1st "Our Town" Grants

"Our Town creates partnerships among local governments and arts and design organizations to strengthen the creative sector and help revitalize the overall community." Rocco Landesman, Chairman, NEA

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."

Among the grantees are two Alliance of Artists Communities members: International Sonoran Desert Alliance (Ajo, AZ) - awarded $100,000 to support the creation of a master plan for the adaptive re-use of multiple buildings and outdoor spaces in Ajo's Plaza and Town Center; and Wormfarm Institute (Reedsburg, WI) - to support the planning, piloting, and evaluation of Farm/Art D-Tour, which will include 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.

Speaking for the ISDA board, Bob Dooley commented: "The chance to work with the Our Town program is very exciting. The design and planning assistance we will get is going to make a real difference to Ajo. This is just an incredible opportunity, and it makes me very proud to be a member of the Ajo community and President of the ISDA board."

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.

See a complete listing of Our Town grants: