Arts Council New Orleans Receives $350K ArtPlace America Grant

NEW ORLEANS – Arts Council New Orleans announced it will receive $350,000 as one of 38 recipients of the ArtPlace America’s 2015 National Grants Program.

         ArtPlace, one of the nation’s largest philanthropies dedicated to creative placemaking, chose to award the Arts Council’s Youth Solutions program to further integrate arts and culture into the field of community planning and development. 

         This year’s ArtPlace America grantees were selected from nearly 1,300 applicants across 48 states and the District of Columbia. Grants range from $50,000 to $500,000 with an average of $265,000.

         ArtPlace funding will support the Arts Council’s highly collaborative Youth Solutions program, designed to address several challenges facing the local community: the persistence of youth violence and trauma, the prevalence of blight in many neighborhoods and an underutilized workforce of artists and creative professionals.

         For each Youth Solutions project, approximately 20 young people work with artists, design educators and social workers to combine youth neighborhood expertise with mentor knowledge to envision, design and construct one or more creative placemaking projects to improve neighborhood public spaces.

         “ArtPlace America is a leader in a national movement to situate artists at the center of place-making efforts,” Arts Council New Orleans President and CEO Kim Cook said. “With this grant, the Arts Council is able to further our work in a way that incorporates youth voices and capabilities into the design of the physical environment. We see this as an essential element in celebrating New Orleans as a place of innovation while harnessing the power of artists to work alongside youth as the engines of change.”

         “We congratulate the Arts Council of New Orleans on this important grant,” Senior Advisor to the Mayor for Cultural Economy Scott Hutcheson said. “Combining our rich cultural heritage with valuable mentorship and using both to address the pressing issues facing young people as they work to create positive public spaces, will no doubt have a tremendous impact on our neighborhoods and our city as a whole.”

         Youth Solutions was developed by the Arts Council in consultation with a working group of 12 artists, researchers, public health experts, architects, designers and locally active community members. Aligned with the research developed by the Mayor’s NOLA For Life initiative and initially funded through the National Endowment for the Arts Our Town grant, the Arts Council’s Youth Solutions initiative includes among its partners the City of New Orleans Mayor’s Office for the Cultural Economy, City of New Orleans Health Department, the National Organization of Minority Architects/ Louisiana Chapter and the Louisiana Public Health Institute.  

         A fundamental intention for the Youth Solutions project is to generate a framework and process for local as well as nationwide organizations to identify the ways in which the methods of artists working with youth are consistent with grief trauma intervention strategies. From this understanding, and with the Youth Solutions toolkit, it will become increasingly possible to measure and evaluate the impact and contribution the arts make in developing youth resilience and adding to community benefit. The Arts Council is currently piloting the first five-week Youth Solutions project in the Central City neighborhood and will expand the number of youth served in 2016.

         “Investing in and supporting the arts have a profound impact on the social, physical and economic futures of communities,” ArtPlace Executive Director Jamie L. Bennett said. “Projects like these demonstrate how imaginative and committed people are when it comes to enhancing their communities with creative interventions and thoughtful practices.”

         “The National Grants Program is actively building a portfolio that touches each of the sectors and stakeholders that make up the community development field,” ArtPlace’s Director of National Grantmaking F. Javier Torres said. “Last year, ArtPlace developed a Community Development Matrix to help us better evaluate our success on this front. So, we’re thrilled that this year’s 38 grantees represent a dynamic spectrum of creative approaches and partnerships in community development that expand the dimensions of our portfolio.”

         “Each one of these grants supports a geographic community: a collection of people who live, work, and play within a defined circle on a map,” Torres said. “In each case, a community development challenge or opportunity was identified by local stakeholders; and these 38 grantees are serving as conduits for their community’s desires by leading arts-based solutions through their projects.”

         Arts Council 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.

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