National Endowment for the Arts: Our Town
Our Town is the National Endowment for the Arts’ (NEA’s) creative placemaking grants program. These grants support projects that integrate arts, culture, and design activities into efforts that strengthen communities by advancing local economic, physical, and/or social outcomes. Successful Our Town projects ultimately lay the groundwork for systemic changes that sustain the integration of arts, culture, and design into strategies for strengthening communities. These projects require a partnership between a local government entity and nonprofit organization, one of which must be a cultural organization; and should engage in partnership with other sectors (such as agriculture and food, economic development, education and youth, environment and energy, health, housing, public safety, transportation, and workforce development).
FY 2020 marks the 10 year anniversary of the Our Town program. NEA is looking for projects that reflect a new and catalytic way of working, and demonstrate the potential for sustained support and recognition for arts, design, and cultural strategies as integral to every phase of community development. Applications are encouraged for artistically excellent projects that:
- Bring new attention to or elevate key community assets and issues, voices of residents, local history, or cultural infrastructure
- Inject new or additional energy, resources, activity, people, or enthusiasm into a place, community issue, or local economy
- Envision new possibilities for a community or place – a new future, a new way of overcoming a challenge, or approaching problem-solving
- Connect communities, people, places, and economic opportunity via physical spaces or new relationships
Our Town projects must integrate arts, culture, and design activities into efforts that strengthen communities by advancing local economic, physical, and/or social outcomes. Projects may include activities such as:
- Arts engagement, including artist residencies, arts festivals, community co-creation of art, performances, public art, and temporary public art
- Cultural planning, including cultural planning activities, cultural district planning, creative asset mapping, and public art planning
- Design, including artist/designer-facilitated community planning, design of artist space, design of cultural facilities, and public space design
- Artist and creative industry support, including creative business development and professional artist development
Amount: Applicants may request a grant amount at one of the following levels: $25,000, $50,000, $75,000, $100,000, $150,000, or $200,000. NEA will award very few grants at the $200,000 level; these will be only for projects of significant scale and impact. Grants cannot exceed 50% of the total cost of the project. All grants require a nonfederal match of at least 1 to 1. These matching funds may be all cash or a combination of cash and in-kind contributions.
Eligibility: Applications require partnerships that involve at least two primary partners – a nonprofit organization and a local governmental entity. One of the two primary partners must be a cultural (arts or design) organization. Additional partners are encouraged. Specifically, eligible lead applicants are:
- Nonprofit tax-exempt 501(c)(3) U.S. organizations with a documented three-year history of programming.
- Local governments. For the purposes of these guidelines, local governments are defined as counties, parishes, cities, towns, villages, or federally recognized tribal governments. Local arts agencies or other departments, agencies, or entities within an eligible local government may submit the application on behalf of that local government.
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