Projects were selected from a field of 1,270 applications.
ArtPlace America has announced that two projects from Austin are finalists for 2014 Creative Placemaking Grants. Selected from a field of 1,270 applications, 97 project finalists were chosen for their potential to transform communities through placing art and culture at the heart of integrated strategies that will help shape their social, physical, and economic futures.
The first project, thinkEAST Living Charrette to Shape a New Creative Community, unites Austin’s creative communities, city planners, developers, and local residents to envision and prototype a creative district of affordable living, working, learning, and exhibition and performance activity at thinkEAST, a 24-acre former industrial site in a diverse, economically disadvantaged urban neighborhood in East Austin. The project is led by Fusebox, the local non-profit which produces the annual Fusebox Festival, with partners thinkEAST, owners/developers Richard deVarga and Robert Summers; and the City of Austin Economic Development Department/Cultural Arts Division.
If awarded funding, the project would create a “pop-up” Fusebox Festival in 2015 on the thinkEAST property, a 24-acre site which was formerly part of the East Austin Tank Farm and was purchased by deVarga and Summers with the intention of developing a creative community on the site. The festival’s multidisciplinary performances, installations, and community events will create a “living charrette” which models a vibrant, creative, mixed-use community of the future.
“We see this project as an exciting extension of our Free Range Art initiative,” said Ron Berry, Fusebox Artistic Director. “It's an opportunity to explore how we can reposition the arts to play a more vital, indispensable, role in civic life. The Fusebox Festival has always been a mechanism to explore place -- all the nooks, crannies, and neighborhoods of our city -- and the thinkEAST project is a fantastic way to amplify that part of our mission. Lastly, the cross-disciplinary nature of this collaboration speaks to our interest in hybridity, which is central to creativity and innovation.”
The final stage of the project will develop district master plan and business plan for thinkEAST to be presented to stakeholders and City Council.
“Currently we have Fusebox Festival, Blue Genie Art Industries, Urban Roots, and Big Medium on board as partners, and our vision for the creative district is expanding. Imagine an innovation hub situated along the entire half mile of planned commuter rail situated between thinkEAST on one end and Big Medium’s Canopy Studios on the other. When you think about the opportunities for job creation and education, design and manufacturing, and affordable housing, you have the makings for a true, sustainable creative district,” said deVarga.
The second Austin project, Mapping Territories, seeks to harness the power of the arts to directly engage the political transformations taking place in Austin by creating opportunities to map cultural assets, help build and construct the identities of Austin’s newly formed Council Districts, and engage citizens about cultural asset needs to sustain Austin as a creative hub. The City of Austin Economic Development Department/Cultural Arts Division is the lead on this project with partners GO collaborative, Public City, artist Jennifer Chenoweth, and Austin Creative Alliance.
Mapping Territories expands on the Cultural Arts Division’s project “Mapping Austin’s Cultural Resources,” which has received a $30,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. That project is using GIS technology to map Austin’s cultural assets across the city, culminating with a set of maps for each Council district and working with the community to develop an accompanying findings report and cultural economic development strategies for each district. Aligning with Imagine Austin, the Land Development Code Revision, and the City’s Capital Improvement Program Strategic Plan, this project aims to better integrate creative economy strategies into City Planning areas and initiatives.
“We are excited about the potential of this project to integrate cultural asset locations with other City GIS layers and data points and to use the City’s web-based tool to better understand the community’s creative assets by district in order to plan for the future growth and sustainability of creative spaces in Austin,” said Megan Crigger, Cultural Arts Program Manager of the Economic Development Department. “We recognize that creative space is critical to sustaining the presence of creative individuals, organizations, and businesses as a resource for Austin’s economy, vitality, and livability.”
While the Mapping Austin’s Cultural Resources project does have a community engagement component, the funding from ArtPlace would support a more robust community participation process which utilizes the creative tools of visual and performance art techniques, story-telling, community gatherings to enable participants to explore their values and needs. These artistic explorations will then be added to the more formalized GIS maps to give a deeper and richer meaning to citizens. In parallel with these efforts, 10 local artists, representing a range of creative media, will engage communities to develop works that begin to explore the emerging identities of the newly forming districts, and to create a final presentation that brings these 10 separate pieces together. Lastly, discussions will be facilitated between local artists, district residents, and policy makers that will deepen residents’ understanding of district changes and explore how Austin’s creative economy is tied to their local area.
"Austin is undergoing a process of historic political change. Art has a role to play in those changes," said Lynn Osgood of GO collaborative, a local architecture and planning firm focused on creative, community design and development.
ArtPlace will announce which proposals have been selected for funding in June 2014. If selected, projects could receive funds as early as July 2014 with an 18-month project completion time.
City of Austin Cultural Arts Division
The Cultural Arts Division of the Economic Development Department provides leadership and management for the City’s cultural arts programs and for the development of arts and cultural industries. The Cultural Arts Division is responsible for the Cultural Arts Funding Programs, Art in Public Places Program, community-based arts development, and programs to assist the development of film and creative industries in Austin. For more information, visit www.austincreates.com.
Fusebox champions adventurous works of art across a variety of different mediums. We present diverse artistic experiences that catalyze audiences, ideas, and conversations. For ten years, our primary focus has been an annual 12-day hybrid art festival that features hundreds of local, national and international artists in two-dozen venues throughout Austin. For more information, visit www.fuseboxfestival.com.
thinkEAST Living Charrette to Shape a New Creative Community Partners:
Ron Berry and Brad Carlin, Fusebox
Richard deVarga and Robert Summers, thinkEAST Austin
City of Austin Economic Development Department/Cultural Arts Division
Mapping Territories Partners:
City of Austin Economic Development Department/Cultural Arts Division
ArtPlace America is a collaboration among 14 foundations, 8 federal agencies, and 6 financial institutions dedicated to strengthening the field of creative placemaking. Toward this end, ArtPlace has invested in projects in which artists and arts organizations play an explicit and central role in strategies to help shape their communities' social, physical, and economic futures. Participating foundations include the Barr Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Ford Foundation, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Rasmuson Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, Surdna Foundation, and two anonymous donors. ArtPlace seeks advice and counsel from its close working relationships with the US Departments of Agriculture, Education, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, and Transportation; the National Endowment for the Arts; and the White House Domestic Policy Council and Office of Management and Budget. ArtPlace has also been supported by a $12 million loan fund capitalized by Bank of America, Citi, Deutsche Bank, Chase, MetLife and Morgan Stanley. To date, ArtPlace has invested $42.1 million to 134 projects in 80 communities of all sizes across the country.
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