Roanoke Awarded National Endowment for the Arts Our Town Grant

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has announced 80 Our Town grant awards totaling $4.995 million and reaching 44 states and the District of Columbia. The City of Roanoke is one of the grantees and will receive $50,000 to implement a portion of the city’s Arts and Cultural Plan through a neighborhood arts initiative.
The program titled “Arts Where You Live” is a partnership with The Arts Council of the Blue Ridge and the Roanoke
Symphony Orchestra. All three organizations collaborated on the NEA application and will all have key roles in the implementation of the grant.

Through Our Town, the NEA supports creative place-making projects that help transform communities into lively, beautiful, and sustainable places with the arts at their core. The grantee projects will improve quality of life, encourage creative activity, create community identity and a sense of place, and help revitalize local economies. All Our Town grant awards were made to partnerships that consisted of a minimum of a not-for-profit organization and a local government entity.

A major goal of Roanoke’s Arts and Cultural Plan, to increase livability by building Livable Communities and Engaged Neighborhoods, will be achieved through this project by integrating arts and cultural activities in neighborhood-level planning. Supplemental goals and impact include:

• Supporting neighhborhood-based art and culture by generating programs that showcase local and regional artistic talents while promoting a neighborhood’s diverse cultural and historic resources and encouraging the active engagement of neighborhood residents, and

• Attracting and retaining artists by supporting programs that encourage artists to live and work in Roanoke’s neighborhoods by recognizing their work and promoting their studios, shops and businesses. Local arts organizations and individual artists will be invited to submit ideas and budgets for educational and participatory arts activities which will take place in targeted city parks and neighborhoods.

“Cities and towns are transformed when you bring the arts – both literally and figuratively – into the center of them,” said NEA Chairman Landesman. “From Teller, Alaska to Miami, Florida, communities are pursuing creative place-making, making their neighborhoods more vibrant and robust by investing in the performing, visual, and literary arts. I am proud to be partnering with these 80 communities and their respective arts, civic, and elected leaders.”

According to Susan Jennings Arts and Cultural Coordinator for the city, “Research shows that individuals often connect with the arts in their own neighborhoods before they venture out to local museums and performances. Important goals of the arts and cultural plan are is to bring the arts into underserved neighborhoods and also help the local arts organizations and individual artists build their audiences. Arts Where You Live directly addresses both goals.”

The NEA received 317 applications for Our Town that were assigned to one of three application review panels based on their project type; arts engagement, cultural planning and design, or non-metro and tribal communities. Arts Where You Live received an arts engagement grant award.

For more information, contact Susan Jennings, Arts and Culture Coordinator, at susan.jennings@roanokeva.gov or 540-853-5652. For a complete listing of projects recommended for Our Town grant support, please visit the NEA web site at arts.gov.