The National Endowment of the Arts has awarded a $75,000 grant for artwork at the Church Street Heritage Project, which is under construction in downtown Anderson.
The grant awarded to the city of Anderson and Anderson Arts Center will help pay for commissioning and installing up to eight pieces of public art, as well as interactive music and oral history recordings.
City officials are spending $460,000 on the initial phase of the Church Street Heritage Project. The first round of work on the “pocket park” behind the Mellow Mushroom on Main Street is slated for completion in June.
The project is the culmination of a decade-long effort to commemorate the black business district that thrived on Church Street from around 1900 to 1980.
“At its heart, the Church Street Heritage Project celebrates what is unique about Anderson. Church Street was a model of economic vitality in the 20th century that would be enviable to any modern city today,” Mayor Terence Roberts said in a statement issued by the city. “We are thankful to the NEA for its validation of this project in the form of significant funding and we are proud to have as our partner the Anderson Arts Center.”
Councilwoman Beatrice Thompson, a longtime advocate for the Church Street Heritage Project, also was pleased to learn of the grant.
“It is wonderful to see the effort to honor the cultural and historical significance of Church Street come to fruition. I have a great deal of personal satisfaction and pride as I watch a new generation of leaders work so diligently to see that the past is honored in this meaningful and relevant way,” she said in the city’s statement. “It will bring the Church Street story full circle as it spurs economic growth and opportunity anew.”
The city previously received a $60,000 grant from Duke Energy to place ornate story boxes in the park that will explain the area’s history. The grant announced Monday also will help pay for the story boxes, as well as sculptures.
The money for the Church Street Heritage project is among 64 grants totaling $4.3 million that the National Endowment of the Arts is awarding through its Our Town Program. The endowment received 240 applications related to the program this year. The park in Anderson is the only project in South Carolina that received funding this year, according to the endowment’s website.
“For six years, Our Town has made a difference for people and the places where they live, work, and play,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “Projects such as the one led by the city of Anderson help residents engage the arts to spark vitality in their communities.”