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Metro Arts to Receive $85,000 National Endowment for the Arts grant

December 28, 2016

“Creativity Connects” Project will support Artist-Based Neighborhood Development in Madison

National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Jane Chu has announced the first round of grants that are part of her signature leadership initiative, Creativity Connects. Metro Arts will be awarded an Art Works: Creativity Connects grant of $85,000 to support a collaboration between Metro Arts, the Mayor's Office of Economic Opportunity & Empowerment, and the Financial Empowerment Centers to study and implement creative neighborhood development policies in Madison. The grant will allow the formation of a neighborhood artist advisory committee to investigate conditions in Madison as it relates to artists’ affordable housing, studio/production spaces and how the life of artists is supported in Madison’s renaissance. From the artist-led community planning process a series of temporary public art interventions and a Percent for Art public art project will be planned and implemented. In addition, workshops and resources around wealth building practices will be held for artists.

Creatives and freelancers make up about 22% of the county’s workforce. Increasingly, those workers seek communities where they can live, work and engage creatively. The NashvilleNext General Plan indicates that artist activation is a critical component of sense of place, economic development and Nashville’s overall quality of life. NashvilleNext also identifies the need to stabilize affordability and simultaneously facilitate cultural life in key underinvested corridors over the next twenty years. Madison is a targeted area for coordination identified in both the NashvilleNext General Plan and Metro Arts’ Culture Here report. Metro Arts hopes to work with the Mayor’s Office, Council leaders, city departments and neighborhood leaders to learn how artists can be integrated into community economic and planning efforts. This project is intended to help surface best practices that can be replicated in other communities as Nashville seeks to support the growing and diverse creative workforce.

“This grant offers Nashville a wonderful opportunity to better engage the community in creating a welcoming and supportive environment for artists and creatives,” said Mayor Megan Barry. “I appreciate the NEA, Metro Arts Commission, and leaders in Madison who have come together to make this initiative a reality. Supporting artists and public art will further enrich the quality of life for residents in Madison and throughout Nashville.”

Metro Nashville District 9 Councilman Bill Pridemore said, “I am so honored that Metro Arts received this Creativity Connects grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Madison is a long standing neighborhood for songwriters and musicians and we have many new creatives moving to our community. We are excited to work with Metro Arts to help identify opportunities for artist housing, retail and commercial development and financial stability for creatives. Madison can and should be one of Davidson County’s great arts hubs and we think this is a great first step.”

Creativity Connects is a new program of the National Endowment designed to investigate partnerships between arts organizations and organizations from non-arts sectors, such as healthcare, nutrition, juvenile justice, science, and technology, among many others. Metro Arts received one of the 37 national grants totaling $2,500,000. NEA Chairman Jane Chu said, “The NEA is proud to support these Creativity Connects projects, such as Metro Arts and Madison Creative Corridor, one of 37 projects that connects the arts and non-arts sectors in creative ways to produce something truly innovative.” In addition to the grant program, the Creativity Connects initiative includes a bright spots interactive, digital graphic that shows the mashup of arts with other non-arts sectors; and the report Creativity Connects: Trends and Conditions Affecting US Artists about the current infrastructure of the arts and working conditions for artists. For more information on projects included in the NEA grant announcement, visit arts.gov/news

“Metro Arts believes that all citizens deserve access to arts in their lives and that all neighborhoods can and should be hubs for creative activity. This grant will help us pilot a mission-driven process that puts artists at the table in community planning and development and improves quality of life in our rapidly changing suburban neighborhoods. It is exciting to be part of a larger national effort to explore the linkages between arts and community improvement,” noted Jennifer Cole, executive director of Metro Arts.

Metro Arts’ five-year strategic plan, Crafting a Creative City identifies the need to improve neighborhood cultural infrastructure and support the creative workforces as two of its key strategic pillars. This investment is a continued effort along with THRIVE microfunding and neighborhood-focused public art to deepen cultural participation in all communities in Davidson County. Creativity Connects artist projects and grant progress will be updated regularly at www.artsnashville.org.