The City of Tacoma’s Arts Commission and Evergreen State College are the only two Washington state recipients of a new grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, announced NEA chairman Rocco Landesman on Tuesday. The “Our Town” grants give a total of $6.575 million to 51 communities in 34 states to fund public-private partnerships that both support the arts and shape the local community in social, physical and economic ways to increase livability.
At $200,000 the grant to the Tacoma Arts Commission is one of the largest. It will help fund the redesign of the Tacoma Art Museum plaza and Pacific Avenue streetscape, a museum-city collaboration currently in design and slated to begin work later this year. Among the elements of the plan are a covered area for the museum’s plaza, creation of the Prairie Line walking/riding trail from the University of Washington to the waterfront, art elements along the trail and an eco- and pedestrian-friendly streetscape.
“We are thrilled to be included in the NEA’s inaugural Our Town program,” says city arts administrator Amy McBride. “This particular project is a crucial nexus to the south end of downtown and entrance into the city center and is definitely a design challenge. It is fantastic to have the confidence and support of the NEA as we move forward.”
The Evergreen State College in Olympia has received a $100,000 Our Town grant to support a series of community art workshops led by Squaxin Island tribe artists at the Evergreen Longhouse in preparation for the tribe’s hosting of the annual Tribal Canoe Journey.
“Communities across our country are investing in the arts and smart design to enhance Americans’ quality of life and to promote the distinctive identities of our communities,” said Landesman. “Our Town creates partnerships among local governments and arts and design organizations to strengthen the creative sector and help revitalize the overall community.”
Grants ranged from $25,000 to $250,000, and over half were awarded to communities of less than 200,000 people. Projects included art installations, self-drive art tours, competitions, venue improvement and workshops.