ArtPlace America Awards $656,500 To Two Austin Projects

The City of Austin’s Economic Development Department is pleased to announce that two Austin, Texas projects have received grants totaling $656,500 from ArtPlace America (ArtPlace), a consortium of leading national and regional foundations, federal agencies, and banks, dedicated to accelerating the field of creative placemaking. The department’s Cultural Arts Division is a partner in both projects.

After a seven-month competitive process with 1,270 other applicants, the final 55 selected projects were announced Wednesday June 25, 2014. In this round of ArtPlace funding, $14.7 million is being granted to projects in 79 communities of all sizes across 31 states. Past recipients of ArtPlace grants have demonstrated creative placemaking as a means of investing in art and culture at the heart of a portfolio of integrated strategies that can drive vibrancy and diversity so powerful that it transforms communities.

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

The first Austin project, currently known as Drawing Lines, is receiving a grant of $256,500. The project is a public-private partnership between the Cultural Arts Division and GO collaborative with Public City, Fisterra Studio, and Austin Creative Alliance. The project seeks to harness the power of arts and artists to directly engage the political transformations taking place in Austin as a result of the 10 newly drawn Council Districts. The project will assist district residents in identifying their communities’ cultural assets and artists will create artistic expressions of the districts’ character and diversity. The ten artists, one per district, will then collaborate on a single artwork that expresses the collective understanding of Austin’s diverse communities. The community engagement process is expected to last up to 12-months, culminating in a public exhibition with project maps, single district artworks, one collaborative artwork, and the City of Austin GIS-based cultural asset maps. 

"Austin is undergoing a process of historic political change and art has a role to play in creating those changes. We are thrilled that this project will support opportunities for artists to work directly with community members to discover, understand, and ultimately express an understanding of the diverse identities that we have within our newly formed districts.  Art can help to mirror the larger political transformations we're undergoing as a city and thus help us to more fully engage in our civic life together," said Lynn Osgood, GO collaborative.

The project expands upon the Cultural Arts Division’s current initiative to map Austin’s cultural assets, a project funded through the National Endowment for the Arts. The process will produce a set of GIS maps organized by Council District, a findings report developed with community input, and a set of cultural economic development strategies for each district.  Aligning with Imagine Austin, the Land Development Code Revision, and the City’s CIP Strategic Plan, the goal of this project is to better integrate creative economy strategies into City Planning Areas and Initiatives.

“We are excited for the opportunity to expand on our cultural asset mapping project to include artists in this way,” said Cultural Arts Division Manager Megan Crigger. “This project will engage citizens in expressing their identity as a District while growing the numbers and capacity of artists and creatives working in the civic realm. The new information gathered and new civic engagement skills developed will help in the future growth and sustainability of a creative Austin.”