In Which I Have A Belated Realization

The lovely people at my state arts foundation sent me some information about National Endowment programs today that I thought I would share. The first is that there will be a webinar for the Challenge America FastTrack program on April 18. If you are thinking of applying and have questions, sign up!

The second thing I got was a PDF of the Our Town application guidelines webinar. I was interested to see that the program encompassed more than I originally assumed. The focus is on Creative Placemaking which means they are looking to improve quality of life, encourage creativity, support artists and engender a sense of community.

I had assumed they would support arts in public places, creation of arts districts and cultural facilities. I know some projects have included artist housing. I was pleased to learn that they would also support creative entrepreneurship, the development of creative hubs, design of public places and wayfinding systems. I hadn’t realized they were interested in cultivating an entire infrastructure. I guess it shouldn’t surprise me given the NEA is a partner in ArtPlace. There seems to be a desire to re-purpose existing spaces rather than new construction.

As you might imagine, they won’t support anything that doesn’t have arts and culture–and their practitioners–as central elements. At the same time, they also require local government at the city or county level as a partner to the non-profit. A government entity can only submit one proposal, which they define as:

“Eligible local government partners include counties, parishes, cities, towns, villages, federally recognized tribal governments, local arts agencies, local education agencies (school districts), or local government-run community college.”

Soooo….. as I got to finishing this entry, I realized that the deadline for this grant was March 1. I suspect the folks at my state arts organization didn’t realize this either when they sent the information out with a “please share” request. The Our Town link from the NEA home page isn’t working so it wasn’t immediately apparent the deadline had passed. I did find the application information page through other means.

If nothing else, it is a good resource for planning for the next cycle. (Which they indicate there will be.) This year the application window was December 1 to March 1. Unless you already had something in the works with your local government, it would have been a real crunch to get an application together. Let’s face it, few people are really going to be working on a grant application during the Christmas holidays.

About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker ( website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (

My most recent role was as Executive Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


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