Arts-based Community Development Investment for Martinsville, VA
Wednesday July 15, 2015
National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Chairman Jane Chu announced 69 Our Town awards totaling almost $5 million through the Our Town program's fifth year of funding. Piedmont Arts/City of Martinsville is one of those recommended organizations and will receive $25,000 to support the commissioning of public artwork for the Piedmont Public Art Garden to provide a creative space for residents. The NEA received 275 applications for Our Town this year and will make grants ranging from $25,000 to $200,000.
The Our Town grant program supports creative place making projects that help to transform communities into lively, beautiful, and resilient places with the arts at their core. Since the program’s inception in 2011 and including these projects, the NEA will have awarded 325 Our Town grants totaling almost $26 million in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia.
The development of Piedmont Arts' Public Art Garden will directly engage residents of the Martinsville-Henry County (MHC) area and make the arts highly visible and easily accessible. The City of Martinsville and Piedmont Arts are working together on this project. The museum’s garden will feature original three-dimensional artwork installed outdoors in its public art space. Three designs will be installed, including one which incorporates artistic seating and two free-standing sculptures. Artists selected to design the sculptures are Jessie Ward of Martinsville, Ed Dolinger of Bassett and Mark Wright of Spotsylvania County, who is originally from this area. In addition, a mosaic tile piece will be created through a community-engagement activity using a regional tile artist. The space is strategically located on the corner of two high traffic thoroughfares—Starling Avenue and Mulberry Road—with Piedmont Arts (applicant), the Virginia Museum of Natural History and MHC YMCA along this corridor. This public art garden will serve as a civic space for those living in MHC, as well as those visiting the area. Per the NEA Our Town grant guidelines, work on the project will not begin prior to October 2015, however the City of Martinsville and Piedmont Arts will bring key stakeholders together to begin working on plans for the development of the space.
“Piedmont Arts and the Martinsville Community Development department demonstrates the best in creative community development and whose work will have a valuable impact on its community,” said Chairman Chu. "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."
“Piedmont Arts is excited to work with the City of Martinsville on this project,” said Bernadette Moore, Piedmont Arts director of marketing, communication and design, who oversees the museum’s public art initiative. “We have partnered with the City on past public art projects, which have helped to revitalize the Uptown area. The public art garden will be a shining example of how the arts contribute to a vibrant and beautiful community.”
According to Executive Director Kathy Rogers, partnering with the City of Martinsville on the public art garden allows Piedmont Arts to develop the property on the corner of Starling and Mulberry in to a space that enhances the community and makes art more accessible to everyone. She said, “It’s always admission free to visit the galleries at Piedmont Arts and now we will be able to provide another venue for residents of Martinsville-Henry County to enjoy art at no cost. We are looking forward to working with the City of Martinsville and other stakeholders on this project.”
“We are thrilled to be working with Piedmont Arts as it moves forward with its development of its public art garden. The project is an excellent fit for the City’s Arts & Cultural District, and will be a great public space in our community,” said Susan McCulloch, Martinsville City Planner.
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. The NEA’s online resource, Exploring Our Town, features case studies of more than 70 Our Town projects along with lessons learned and other resources.
The Twitter hashtag is #NEAOurTown15