National Endowment for the Arts: Our Town

Sponsor Name: 
National Endowment for the Arts
Description of the Award: 

Description:

Our Town is the National Endowment for the Arts’ creative placemaking grants program. Through project-based funding, we 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 local 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). Cost share/matching grants range from $25,000 to $150,000, with a minimum cost share/match equal to the grant amount.

Projects

We encourage applications 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.

The National Endowment for the Arts plans to support a variety of projects across the country in urban, rural, and tribal communities of all sizes.

Project Types

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:

  • Artist residency: A program designed to strategically connect artists with the opportunity to bring their creative skill sets to non-arts institutions, including residencies in government offices, businesses, or other institutions.
  • Arts festivals: Public events that gather people, often in public space or otherwise unexpected places, to showcase talent and exchange culture.
  • Community co-creation of art: The process of engaging stakeholders to participate or collaborate alongside artists/designers in conceiving, designing, or fabricating a work or works of art.
  • Performances: Presentations of a live art work (e.g., music, theater, dance, media).
  • Public art: A work of art that is conceived for a particular place or community, with the intention of being broadly accessible, and often involving community members in the process of developing, selecting, or executing the work.
  • Temporary public art: A work of art that is conceived for a particular place or community and meant for display over a finite period of time, with the intention of being broadly accessible and often involving community members in developing, selecting, or executing the work.

Cultural Planning:

  • Cultural planning: The process of identifying and leveraging a community's cultural resources and decision-making (e.g., creating a cultural plan, or integrating plans and policies around arts and culture as part of a city master planning process).
  • Cultural district planning: The process of convening stakeholders to identify a specific geography with unique potential for community and/or economic development based on cultural assets (e.g., through designation, branding, policy, plans, or other means).
  • Creative asset mapping: The process of identifying the people, places, physical infrastructure, institutions, and customs that hold meaningful aesthetics, historical, and/or economic value that make a place unique.
  • Public art planning: The process of developing community-wide strategies and/or policies that guide and support commissioning, installing, and maintaining works of public art and/or temporary public art.

Design:

  • Artist/designer-facilitated community planning: Artists/designers leading or partnering in the creative processes of visioning, and for solutions to community issues.
  • Design of artist space: Design processes to support the creation of dedicated spaces for artists to live and/or to produce, exhibit, or sell their work.
  • Design of cultural facilities: Design processes to support the creation of a dedicated building or space for creating and/or showcasing arts and culture.
  • Public space design: The process of designing elements of public infrastructure, or spaces where people congregate (e.g., parks, plazas, landscapes, neighborhoods, districts, infrastructure, and artist-produced elements of streetscapes).

Artist and Creative Industry Support:

  • Creative business development: Programs or services that support entrepreneurs and businesses in the creative industries, or help cultivate strong infrastructure for establishing and developing creative businesses.
  • Professional artist development: Programs or services that support artists professionally, such as through skill development or accessing markets and capital.

Required Partnerships

A key to the success of creative placemaking is involving the arts in partnership with committed governmental, nonprofit, and private sector leadership. All applications must demonstrate a partnership that will provide leadership for the project. These partnerships must involve two primary partners, as defined by these guidelines:

  1. Nonprofit organization
  2. Local government entity

One of these two primary partners must be a cultural (arts or design) organization.

Limit (Number of applicants permitted per institution): 
2
Sponsor Final Deadline: 
Aug 06, 2020
OVPR Application or NOI Instructions: 

Interested applicants should upload the following documents in sequence in one PDF file (File name: Last name_OurTown_2020 no later than 4:00 p.m. on the internal submission deadline:

Cover Page

  • Principal Investigator’s (PI's) names and departmental affiliation
  • Co-PI's names and departmental affiliation(s)
  • A list of possible participating organizations (if applicable)
  • Department Head approval/agreement to match funds
  • 2-page current Bio-sketch for all PIs and Co-PIs.

Project Description (no more than two pages) and identify:

  • The artistic excellence of the project, which includes the following:

    • Quality of the artists, arts or design professionals, arts organizations, works of art, or services that the project will involve, as appropriate for the community in which the project takes place. Artistic excellence is evaluated based on the material and work samples submitted with the application. This includes a description of the process and criteria for the selection of artists, design professionals, arts organizations, works of art, or services to ensure artistic excellence; and work samples of selected or proposed artists, design professionals, arts organizations, works of art, or services that demonstrate artistic excellence. See "Prepare Application Material (PDF)" for the material and work samples that are required to ensure and demonstrate artistic excellence.
    • Potential to advance local economic, physical, and social outcomes by:

      • Bringing new attention to or elevating key community assets and issues, voices of residents, local history, or cultural infrastructure,
      • Injecting new or additional energy, resources, activity, people, or enthusiasm into a place, community issue, or local economy,
      • Envisioning new possibilities for a community or place - a new future, a new way of overcoming a challenge, or approaching problem-solving, or
      • Connecting communities, people, places, and economic opportunity via physical spaces or new relationships.
  • The artistic merit of the project, which includes the following:

    • Potential to ultimately lay the groundwork for systemic changes that sustain the integration of arts, culture, and design into strategies for strengthening communities by engaging partners from other sectors (such as agriculture and food, economic development, education and youth, environment and energy, health, housing, public safety, transportation, and workforce development).
    • Potential to support artists, design professionals, and arts organizations by integrating the arts and design into the fabric of civic life.
    • Level of community engagement in planning for and participating in the project.
    • Strength of the partnership between required local and nonprofit partners, as well as engagement of the private and public sectors.
    • Where appropriate, potential to reach underserved populations such as those whose opportunities to experience the arts are limited.
    • Ability to carry out the project based on such factors as the appropriateness of the budget, the quality and clarity of the project goals and design, the resources involved, and the qualifications of the project’s personnel.
    • Appropriateness of the project to the partners' missions and the community in which the project will take place.
    • Appropriateness of the proposed performance measurements and their ability to demonstrate that project activities are advancing local physical, economic, and/or social outcomes, including, as appropriate, plans for documentation and evaluation of the overall project results.

2-page current Bio-sketch for all PIs and Co-PIs.

Formatting Guidelines and Page Limit:

  • Font/size: Times New Roman (12 pt.)
  • Document margins: 1.0” (top, bottom, left and right)
  • Standard paper size (8 ½” x 11)
To be considered as a Penn State institutional nominee, please submit a notice of intent by the date provided directly below.
OVPR Downselect Deadline: 
Tuesday, July 7, 2020 - 4:00pm