BRATTLEBORO—Can the arts transform a community?
Brattleboro and the Arts Council of Windham County (ACWC) said “yes” all the way through the National Endowment for the Arts Our Town grant process.
The NEA agreed with Brattleboro and ACWC’s vision, awarding the municipality and the nonprofit a $50,000 two-year planning grant for the Brattleboro Project.
The project will bring arts into the community’s center through cultural asset mapping, cultural district planning, and the creation of a public art installation or event.
The grant also requires the town to match the $50,000, either through in-kind or cash donations.
Brattleboro was one of 80 Our Town recipients out of 317 applications. The Paramount Center in Rutland also received an award.
According the NEA’s website, the latest round of grants totaled nearly $5 million to projects in 44 states and the District of Columbia.
Combined with grants from 2011, the NEA has invested $11.58 million in Our Town projects in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Our Town grants focus on “creative placemaking,” or how communities use the arts to “shape their social, physical, and economic characters.”
Downtown Brattleboro has the potential to become an attractive creative center for visitors, residents, and commuters, said Town Planning Director Roderick Francis.
The grant required that a municipality and local arts organization jointly head an Our Town project. For the Brattleboro Project, the town and the Arts Council of Windham County joined forces.
The arts might play an active part in the Brattleboro community, said ACWC representative Zon Eastes, but that role is not a central one.
This grant was conceived to help change that conversation, he said.
“It might be a game-changer in a kind of way,” said Eastes.
Town Arts Committee Chair Kate Anderson said that by moving arts to the core of the community’s dialogue, the grant can help Brattleboro build a creative sector that drives growth and economic development.
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