Two S.C. arts organizations receive NEA Our Town grants

Two South Carolina arts organizations (and current South Carolina Arts Commission grantees) are the recipients of Our Town grants from the National Endowment for the Arts: The Nickelodeon Theatre in Columbia and Preserving Our Southern Appalachian Music (POSAM) in Pickens.

Indie GritsThe Nickelodeon Theatre will receive $50,000 to support the expansion of free public programming for the 2015 Indie Grits Festival. Though it began in 2009 as a film festival in Columbia, S.C., Indie Grits has grown to showcase diverse and innovative work of artists from across the Southeast. Columbia Film Festival and the City of Columbia will partner to increase public programming throughout the festival, including video installations in downtown storefronts, pop-up arts experiences along Main Street, and public panels discussing how arts and culture can help shape the future of cities. Artists will activate vacant storefronts during the festival, demonstrating the potential for spaces to be used year round for creative endeavors.

Preserving Our Southern Appalachian MusicPreserving Our Southern Appalachian Music will receive $25,000 to support the redesign of a former elementary school auditorium into a community cultural space for workshops, concerts, and traditional arts activities in Pickens, S.C. The schoolhouse now serves as the Hagood Community Center and is in need of significant restoration to function as an arts space and the cultural and civic hub of the town. Preserving Our Southern Appalachian Music, City of Pickens, and the Senior Citizens of Pickens will come together to conduct historical research to inform the design of the facility, host town hall meetings to solicit citizen input, hire an architect to redesign the auditorium, and participate in fact-finding visits to learn from other cultural centers in the region. This project will provide a space for residents and visitors to keep alive the traditional arts and culture of Appalachia.

“Our Town grants are very competitive,” said S.C. Arts Commission Executive Director Ken May. “For the past three years, only one grantee from South Carolina has received this grant, so to have two this year is remarkable. We always encourage and offer to work with eligible S.C. organizations to apply for this grant and others from the NEA. The application process can be time-consuming, but the payoff can be great.”

Sixty-six Our Town grants totaling $5.07 million were awarded to organizations in 38 states, investing in local efforts to leverage arts assets to drive community development. Since Our Town’s inception in 2011, the NEA has awarded 256 Our Town grants totaling more than $21 million in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Our Town projects generally fall into two categories; those that feature arts engagement activities, and others that deal with design and cultural planning activities. In arts engagement projects, artistic production is the focus. Design and cultural planning projects develop the local support systems and infrastructure necessary for community development to succeed.

Visit the Our Town website to find out more and explore the interactive map with all Our Town projects to date.

Via: National Endowment for the Arts