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Arts-based Community Development Investment Awarded in District of Columbia

Thursday, July 17, 2014
Washington, DC one of 66 National Endowment for the Arts Our Town projects selected nationwide

National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Chairman Jane Chu announced plans to award 66 Our Town grants totaling $5.073 million and reaching 38 states in the Our Town program's fourth year of funding.  Washington, DC is pleased to host one of those projects with funding recommended to Northeast DC for a total of $73,000.

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. Since Our Town's inception in 2011 and including these projects, the NEA will have awarded 256 Our Town grants totaling more than $21 million in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The NEA grant will support Storefronts DC, a series of art installations and creative pop-up projects to activate vacant spaces and connect adjacent neighborhoods. The project will be an opportunity for D.C.-based artists to work closely with the community and to create work for public display. CulturalDC, Atlas Performing Arts Center, and the DC Commission on Arts and Humanities (DCCAH) will lead the project, and will partner with local business owners, residents, the Mayor's Office, and nearby Gallaudet University. As many as eight vacant or public sites will be activated by artists, to serve the 200,000 residents living in the northeast D.C. neighborhoods of H Street, Benning Road, NoMa, and Union Market.

"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," said Chairman Chu.

“This project is a wonderful opportunity for residents, non-profit organizations, local businesses and the government to come together to create a truly exciting artistic experience for all,” said Judith Terra, Chair of the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities.

“The Our Town grant from the NEA will allow us and our partners to showcase the vibrancy of our community through the arts,” said Lionell Thomas, Executive Director of the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities.

“CultualDC is thrilled to be selected among the recipients of the NEA Our Town Grant,” added CulturalDC Executive Director Juanita Hardy.  “We know that art has the ability to transform communities, as we have experienced many times over our 16 years of working to ‘make space for art’ in communities throughout the City.”

The NEA received 275 applications for Our Town this year. Recommended grant amounts ranged from $25,000 to $200,000. For a complete listing of projects recommended for Our Town grant support, please visit the NEA web site at arts.gov. Project descriptions, grants listed by state and by project type, and resources are available as well.


DCCAH provides grants, professional opportunities, education enrichment, and other programs and services to individuals and nonprofit organizations in all communities within the District of Columbia. The Commission is supported primarily by District government funds and in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.