Arts Council
Berea College receives $100,000 NEA Our Town grant

Press Release Date:  Thursday, July 16, 2015  
Contact Information:  Tom Musgrave, Communications Director
502-564-3757, ext. 489

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Berea College has received a National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Our Town award of $100,000 to support projects to strategically shape the character of communities in eastern Kentucky.

 National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Chairman Jane Chu announced 69 Our Town awards totaling almost $5 million through the program's fifth year of funding. The NEA received 275 applications for Our Town this year and will make grants ranging from $25,000 to $200,000.

 The Our Town grant program supports “creative placemaking” projects that help to transform communities into lively, beautiful and resilient places with the arts at their core. Since the program’s inception in 2011, and including these projects, the NEA will have awarded 325 Our Town grants totaling almost $26 million in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia.

 Berea College’s project will support cultural asset mapping in the Kentucky Highlands Promise Zone. Via a series of community meetings and workshops, the college will lead a comprehensive asset mapping process to identify local arts and cultural assets that can be leveraged to craft a rural revitalization strategy. Partners on the project include eight rural towns, Berea College, the Kentucky Arts Council and Kentucky Highlands Investment Corp. The Arts Incubator of the Rockies will lend its expertise by providing artists, businesses and Kentuckians with curricula, tools and resources to support and connect their work. The Kentucky Highlands Promise Zone has an overall poverty rate of 30 percent, and includes the rural counties of Bell, Clay, Harlan, Knox, Letcher, Perry and Whitley.

 "Berea College demonstrates the best in creative community development and their work will have a valuable impact on its community,” said Chu. "Through Our Town funding, arts organizations continue to spark vitality that support neighborhoods and public spaces, enhancing a sense of place for residents and visitors alike."

“Kentucky has such a wonderful track record of Our Town award recipients, and Berea College is a worthy entity to add to that list,” said Lori Meadows, arts council executive director. “The arts council looks forward to being a partner in this important creative placemaking project.”

 “Projects like this, which will capitalize on the rich cultural resources that exist within our region, are so important as we work to build on communities’ strengths and overcome economic challenges,” said Jared Arnett, executive director of Shaping Our Appalachian Region Inc. (SOAR). “SOAR applauds the arts council, Berea College, Kentucky Highlands Investment Corp. and the other partners for pursuing this important work.”

For a complete listing of projects recommended for Our Town grant support, visit the NEA website. Project descriptions, grants listed by state and by project type, and resources are available as well. The NEA’s online resource, Exploring Our Town, features case studies of more than 70 Our Town projects along with lessons learned and other resources.

 The Kentucky Arts Council, the state arts agency, fosters environments for Kentuckians to value, participate in and benefit from the arts. Kentucky Arts Council funding is provided by the Kentucky General Assembly and the National Endowment for the Arts. The arts council, along with the NEA, is celebrating 50 years of service in 2015, which the arts council is recognizing as the Year of the Arts in Kentucky.

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