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NEA Chairman Announces New Arts Grant for Cities

posted by Christopher Howard — Jan 22, 2010

On January 21, 2010, National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Rocco Landesman gave a policy address at the annual meeting of the United States Conference of Mayors. In his speech, he addressed the role of smart design and artists and arts organizations as place-makers and announced the NEA Mayors’ Institute on City Design 25th Anniversary Initiative. This funding program builds on the accomplishments of the Mayors’ Institute on City Design (MICD) over its twenty-five-year history and reflects the program’s tenets of transforming communities through design.

Landesman said, “Artists are entrepreneurs, small businessmen all, great place-makers and community builders. Bring artists into the center of town and that town changes profoundly. We know now that people do not migrate to businesses. It is businesses that will move to where they can find a skilled, motivated, educated workforce. And what does that workforce look for? In survey after survey, the answer is education and culture.”

“Mayors understand that the arts mean business,” stated Conference of Mayors President Burnsville Mayor Elizabeth B. Kautz. “The nonprofit arts sector alone generates over $166 billion annually in economic activity. An important element to making our cities places to attract and grow businesses, tourism, and jobs is for a community to maintain good urban design. The initiatives announced today by Chairman Landesman will help mayors to implement projects and programs locally to ensure that their communities maintain design standards that will promote business and jobs.”

Application to MICD 25 is open to the six hundred cities (or their designees) that have participated in the MICD since 1986 or are committed to participate in an institute in 2010. All phases of a project—planning, development, design, implementation, and related innovative arts activities—are eligible for support. The NEA encourages partnerships which can further the success of MICD projects, especially when involving public and private sector resources.

The NEA anticipates awarding up to fifteen grants ranging from $25,000 to $250,000. Guidelines and application materials are now available on the NEA website.

Since its inception in 1986, more than eight hundred mayors from six hundred cities—from small town to metropolises—have participated in a MICD session. These mayors learn that through design and the engagement of arts and cultural activities, communities experience a celebration of place that can have a powerful impact on community sustainability and vitality. This place-making is accomplished by providing opportunities for creativity, building social networks, facilitating connections across geographic boundaries, and serving as magnets for attracting a vibrant workforce.

Please see Landesman’s complete speech.