TERRE HAUTE —
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. Art Spaces Inc. - Wabash Valley Outdoor Sculpture Collection is one of the grantees and will receive $25,000 to study the ways in which public art may play a role in connecting downtown Terre Haute with the Wabash River, including the area surrounding City Hall. The arts often prove instrumental in revitalizing communities and connecting people to their surroundings.
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.
This grant will support a Comprehensive Plan for Public Art to link downtown Terre Haute to the Wabash Riverscape where housing, restaurants and recreation facilities are planned — connectivity is important for both districts to thrive. The newly established Wabashiki Fish and Wildlife Area just west of the river along with the state of Indiana’s preservation plans now under way through Indiana’s Healthy Rivers Initiative, has already drawn attention to one of the state’s most important resources, the Wabash River.
Terre Haute’s City Hall lies midway between the downtown and the river and its environs (“government campus”) will be redesigned to include public art. The project will include research, design and community engagement, resulting in a Comprehensive Plan with Action Steps, Timeline and Budget. Participants include the city; area universities; economic development and civic groups; arts and environmental organizations; businesses; urban planners; artists; and citizens.
“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.”
Mary Kramer, Art Spaces executive director, speaking for the organization, noted that “this is such a tremendous honor for Art Spaces and for the city of Terre Haute and we are so grateful to the National Endowment for the Arts. The best projects can emerge from strong partnership between government and the arts, since both are devoted to meaningful and high quality life for citizens — why not work together?
“The planning process and the resulting plan will honor the goals, experience and knowledge not only of Art Spaces and our city government, but also of leaders in development, civic groups, environmental and preservation organizations in Terre Haute — people that are focused on the accessibility, importance and sustainability of the Wabash River as a central and defining attribute of the city. Art Spaces was originally founded through collaborative effort by people that care about the well-being of this city and its inhabitants. This grant acknowledges the growth and importance the arts have come to enjoy in Terre Haute over the past decade. Art Spaces is thrilled to have this opportunity.”
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 Art Spaces’ Turn to the River project.
For a complete listing of projects recommended for Our Town grant support, visit the NEA website at arts.gov.