The National Endowment for the Arts has announced the inaugural round of Our Town grants, totaling $6.575 million in funding to 51 communities in 34 states. The grants recognize communities 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.
The only Alaska recipient of the grant was Alaska Arts Southeast, Inc., who received $100,000 to support the Sitka Festival of the Arts, Humanities, and Natural Sciences. The 10-week festival will serve as the first step toward transforming the former Sheldon Jackson College campus, a 19-building, 20-acre National Historic Landmark site, into a multidisciplinary arts education campus for residents of and visitors to Sitka.
In February, Alaska Arts Southeast received ownership of the core campus and since then has worked to transform it into a base for the Sitka Fine Arts Camp. This year the camp welcomed 567 students from 37 Alaska communities including Juneau, as well as students from 21 other states.
AASE was formed in 1972 to provide Alaska youth with opportunities to develop interests and skills in an intensive artistic experience through instruction in visual arts, music, dance, theater, writing, and Alaska Native Arts.
Our Town grants ranged 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. 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 grants are designed to encourage creative, cross-sector solutions to the challenges facing towns, cities, and the arts community.
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