The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) announces 80 Our Town grant awards totaling $4.995 million and reaching 44 states and the District of Columbia. Montserrat College of Art is one of the grantees as part of a collaborative partnership along with the City of Beverly and Beverly Main Streets. The group will receive $75,000 of a $150,000 matching grant to create a strategy and implementation plan for an Arts and Cultural district in downtown Beverly.
Through Our Town, the NEA supports creative placemaking projects that help transform communities into lively, beautiful and sustainable places with the arts at their core. The grantee projects will improve quality of life, encourage creative activity, create community identity and a sense of place, and help revitalize local economies. All Our Town grant awards were made to partnerships that consisted of a minimum of a not-for-profit organization and a local government entity.
The grant will be used for master planning, implementation and sustainability of a Beverly Arts and Cultural district. The master plan will be a blueprint to connect, communicate, and celebrate the arts in all its forms, leveraging the downtown presence of Montserrat College of Art as the core. Each of the three partners has a major initiative underway that will bring even more artists, venues and programs downtown: the college is creating a master plan to expand its footprint, to become a significant force in growing the creative economy, Beverly Main Streets has created a strategic vision, "Downtown 2020" to revitalize the downtown with a strategy that focuses on defining the downtown district through the arts and the city is focused on economic development in the downtown infrastructure.
"NEA Our Town grants help revitalize our communities and reinvigorate local economies," said Congressman John Tierney, whose office worked closely with Montserrat during the application process. "These federal funds will help Montserrat College to develop a plan for an arts and cultural district in downtown Beverly, benefitting our local families, businesses and economy."
"Cities and towns are transformed when you bring the arts -- both literally and figuratively -- into the center of them," said NEA Chairman Landesman. "From Teller, Alaska to Miami, Florida, communities are pursuing creative placemaking, making their neighborhoods more vibrant and robust by investing in the performing, visual, and literary arts. I am proud to be partnering with these 80 communities and their respective arts, civic, and elected leaders."
Montserrat College of Art President Stephen D. Immerman said, "Montserrat was founded as an incubator to develop the next generation of creative thinkers and contributors to the creative economy. We relish the opportunity this grant offers to work with Beverly Main Streets and the city to broaden the scope of the college's contributions beyond the campus, to make transformational change in the physical, social and economic climate, and create a sense of place in our downtown. Our work to conceive, implement and foster a thriving cultural district will have a lasting impact on future generations who will live, study, work and visit Beverly."
"The receipt of a prestigious Our Town Grant Award to Montserrat College of Art, the city and Beverly Main Streets is terrific news," said Mayor William F. Scanlon, Jr. "This $75,000 grant, one of only 80 such grants across the entire nation, will put additional focus on appropriate economic development in our downtown which will add to the vitality of Beverly."
Gin Wallace, executive director of Beverly Main Streets said, "We all worked really hard to make this happen for Beverly, and we are so pleased that the NEA recognized the potential for us to leverage all the creative energy and talent we have here. A strong and dynamic Arts and Cultural District in the downtown has so many benefits to the artists, the residents, business owners and the city as a whole. We're ready to start planning!"
The NEA received 317 applications for Our Town that were assigned to one of three application review panels based on their project type; arts engagement, cultural planning and design, or non-metro and tribal communities. With only 80 grants emerging from the 317 applications, or a success rate of 25 percent, competition was strong, a testament to the artistic excellence and merit of the Montserrat College of Art collaborative project.
For a complete listing of projects recommended for Our Town grant support, please visit the NEA web site at arts.gov.
Montserrat College of Art is a small, private, residential college of visual art and design, founded in 1970, by artists, for artists, educating the creative problem solvers of tomorrow. The college offers the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, continuing education classes for youth, teen and adults, and three galleries exhibiting works by international, national and regional contemporary artists, intended to offer art education beyond the Montserrat classrooms . Visit us at www.montserrat.edu and see Where Creativity Works.