The city of Richmond, Richmond Art Museum and Indiana University East have received an Our Town grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). Richmond is one of two cities in the state of Indiana to receive an Our Town grant this year; Indianapolis also received a grant.
The $50,000 grant will help fund the $211,000 two-year project that will be used to strengthen the community through the arts by establishing a cultural trail throughout Wayne County, home to some of the oldest cultural institutions in Indiana. The cultural trail, a creative asset mapping project, will focus on the county’s deep arts and cultural heritage. Additional cash and in-kind support for the grant has been provided by program partners and collaborators including Reid Hospital & Health Care Services, Wayne County Foundation, Wayne County Convention and Tourism Bureau and the Economic Development Corporation.
The cultural trail will include opportunities for the public to provide its input and ideas. The finalized plan will be presented to the Richmond Common Council.
Richmond Mayor Sally Hutton said, “It’s exciting and quite an honor to be selected for an Our Town grant award. This opportunity will allow us to make significant progress in our efforts to strengthen our community through the arts. Our vision is that these cultural planning efforts will result in a stronger sense of place, pride in the community and improved economic vitality.”
Shaun Dingwerth, executive director of the Richmond Art Museum, said, “The Richmond Art Museum is pleased to be a part of this prestigious grant opportunity. Wayne County has a rich artistic legacy recognized nationally as the art center of the West. Our community can once again be a cultural destination as we continue to partner to bring quality arts to Wayne County. We are grateful to the NEA for recognizing our community efforts and their confidence in our ability to enhance the quality of life of for all Wayne County citizens.”
IU East Chancellor Kathryn Cruz-Uribe recognizes the university’s tie to the community and its deep commitment to the economic and cultural development of the region, in particular serving as a “Steward of Place.”
“IU East is delighted to partner with the city of Richmond and the Richmond Art Museum to help plan and develop a Wayne County cultural trail, connecting the community through discussion, activity and involvement,” Cruz-Uribe said.
Fredricka Joyner, associate professor of business administration and organization behavior, will help to coordinate the grant and serve as the project director.
“This project will expand on several years of collaborative work undertaken by many organizations in the community. We are particularly excited about the opportunity this project presents for IU East to be actively involved in strengthening residents’ feeling of attachment to the community,” Joyner said. “Funding from the National Endowment for the Arts is difficult to obtain and represents a huge vote of confidence for the work that is taking place in Richmond.”
The cultural trail grew from four years of the community’s work through the city, the Mayor’s Council on Economic Vitality and the Positive Place Initiative (PPI). Additionally, Richmond was designated by the state of Indiana as a “Stellar Community,” providing the city with eligibility for federal and state funding to complete projects in excess of $20 million that will help to continue and accelerate the revitalization and redevelopment of the downtown area, one of the potential key intersections for the cultural trail.
The NEA announced July 16 that it had awarded 66 grants to communities across 38 states. The NEA is funding $5.073 million in projects through the grant program. This year, there were 275 applications submitted to the funding program.
According to the NEA, this year’s Our Town projects demonstrate again that excellent art is as fundamental to a community’s success as land-use, transportation, education, housing, infrastructure, and public safety, helping build stronger communities that are diverse in geography and character. Our Town funds arts-based community development projects in a way that is authentic, equitable, and augments existing local assets.