Monday, January 25, 2010

NEA Mayors' Institute on City Design - 25th Anniversary Initiative


The NEA has operated the Mayor's Institute on City Design since 1986. This year they are celebrating the program's 25th anniversary (which is actually next year but they wanted to fund projects that happen during the anniversary year) with a new grant program. The program has the snappy but literal title of "25th Anniversary Initiative."

What is great about this initiative is that is open to the cities where a mayor has participated in the Mayors' Institute, at any time over the 25 years. This opens it up to several hundred cities. The guidelines are also very flexible, and could be used to support a wide array of design projects, from planning of arts districts, to promotion of design and the arts as central to a city's livability, to transformation of public sites through cultural activities, to festivals and public art.Grants will range from $25,000-250,000.

And to all those individual arts groups getting excited about this grant program, the applicant must be the City or its designated agency. In effect, only one application per eligible City, that must come from the City itself. We are already brainstorming internally on what we might focus on here in Philadelphia - so many great ideas!

And a special treat for Philadelphia is the fact that right in the front of the guidelines is a quote from our own Jeremy Nowak, President of The Reinvestment Fund, which has been doing so much groundbreaking work on the role of the arts in building community and economic vitality (See "Creativity and Neighborhood Development: Strategies for Community Investment," a collaboration between TRF and Penn's Social Impact of the Arts project, another great asset in this area.)

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