California Arts Council

State of California

Press Release Detail

July 16, 2014Caitlin Fitzwater

Arts-based community development investment awarded in California by the National Endowment for the Arts

Six Golden State projects selected for funding from the Our Town program

Sacramento -
The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) today announced its planned awards for the Our Town program, and California is home to six recipients. The California organizations received an aggregate $675,000. The total number of awards for this national program is 66 in this fourth round for Our Town, for a total of $5.073 million.

The California Our Town recipients announced today are:

Yurok Tribe (Klamath) - to support cultural district planning along the Klamath Boulevard on the Yurok Indian Reservation. A design committee of Yurok tribal artists will oversee the selection and process for integrating cultural and artistic elements into outdoor areas, including the exteriors of public buildings and cultural exhibits of the Yurok Scenic Byway Visitors Center, and also will plan for the use of the outdoor amphitheater for cultural programming. The Ink People, an organization that has been involved in working with and exhibiting local Native American artists for over 30 years, will help coordinate the participating artists, and the Redwood National and State Parks will provide input for utilizing the outdoor amphitheater. Klamath has a population of 779; the Yurok Reservation has a poverty rate of 80%. $50,000

Kounkuey Design Initiative, Inc. (Los Angeles) - to support the programming phase of Nuestro Lugar: Engaging, Creating, and Activating Community Folklore. Lead partner Kounkuey Design Initiative, a design and community development organization that partners with people living in extreme poverty, will plan and develop arts activities for the first community-designed public space in North Shore, California. The project will include the residents' creation of their own maps to identify local cultural, physical, and creative assets and the design and development of physical and digital maps of those creative assets. The project will culminate in the design and implementation of "situaciones" (happenings), arts programming that will take place around the new public place. Kounkuey Design Initiative will work closely with the Desert Recreation District of Riverside County. Kounkuey's efforts in North Shore, a rural Latino community with approximately 3,400 residents, intend to augment existing cultural wealth and encourage visioning and community engagement. $100,000

Los Angeles County Arts Commission (Los Angeles) - to support an artists-in-residence program and community programming in the rural unincorporated communities of the Antelope Valley. Artists will be selected through a competitive process and embedded in the communities. The commission will work with the artists to identify a location in each town's center to create an animated public space, conduct field research, and identify assets for a community specific engagement plan. The artists will execute the plans using creative methods to engage residents in civic discourse, cultural exchange, idea sharing, artwork creation, and in the Los Angeles County Department of Regional Planning planning process. The Greater Antelope Valley Economic Alliance will work with the artists to develop arts sustainability plans for each community that include recommendations and capacity for future development. As many as four artists, two of whom will be local, will be selected to participate in the project, which will serve the 35,000 residents of Lake Los Angeles, Littlerock, Quartz Hill, and Sun Village. $150,000

EastSide Arts Alliance (Oakland) - to support the creation of cultural plazas along International Boulevard in Oakland. The sites for cultural plazas are blighted lots that will be transformed into staging areas for a variety of community projects, festivals, celebrations, concerts, public art, theater, video screenings, and arts markets. Corresponding with catalyst sites identified in the Transit Orientated Development Plan for the new bus rapid transit line, the plazas will become animated with arts activities spearheaded by local artists and area organizations. EastSide Arts Alliance, City of Oakland, California Endowment, Allen Temple Baptist Church, Freemont High School, East Oakland Youth Development Center, and other local organizations will partner to support arts activities in the plazas that celebrate the cultural diversity and rich traditions of Oakland residents. The east Oakland neighborhoods served by this project are among the most diverse in the nation, with a majority of Asian, Latino, and African-American residents. The population of Oakland is 390,724. $200,000

City of Pasadena, Cultural Affairs Division (Pasadena) - to support My Pasadena: Arts and Community Activating the Civic Center. Through a series of temporary artist-led public art projects and arts education programs, artists will engage community members in exploring the meaning of civic engagement and the role of the Civic Center in the life of the city. Project partner Side Street Projects' mobile outpost in the Civic Center will serve as headquarters for the artists' projects. The Pasadena Central Library's "We the PPL" program will document and archive images and stories that influence the development of permanent public art and arts activities at the Civic Center. My Pasadena is a key element of the City's 2013 Public Art Master Plan. Additional project partners include Pasadena Heritage, Northwest Commission, Pasadena Unified School District, and The Armory Center for the Arts. This project will serve the minority Northwest community (including schoolchildren) and the 24,000 visitors and workers in the Civic Center area. $100,000

San Francisco Arts Commission (San Francisco) - to support data aggregation and inventory analysis for the San Francisco Community Arts Stabilization Trust (CAST) Space and Facility Capacity Building project. In partnership with the CAST, existing data on San Francisco's physical cultural assets will be aggregated and examined for missing data sets. An inventory of potential cultural assets such as vacant single-tenant properties, properties with master leasing potential, and underutilized community rooms in buildings owned or leased by nonprofits, will be conducted for use in the cultural community space-matching program. Northern California Community Loan Fund will work with CAST and act as an intermediary to arts groups. The Grants for the Arts and the Office of Economic & Workforce Development also will provide strategic input. This project will serve the Central Market neighborhood and its small and mid-sized multicultural organizations. $75,000

"The California Our Town grantees demonstrate the best in creative community development and whose work will have a valuable impact on its community," said NEA Chairman Jane 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."

"California's strength lies in its creative communities, including those now supported by this Our Town funding," said Craig Watson, Director of the California Arts Council. "Projects include cultural district planning, art and design programming, festivals and performances, public art and cultural festivities. The Arts Council congratulates these organizations for the recognition of their good work through the Our Town support through this national funding."

About Our Town

According to the NEA, this year's Our Town projects demonstrate again that excellent art is as fundamental to a community's success as land-use, transportation, education, housing, infrastructure, and public safety, helping build stronger communities that are diverse in geography and character. Our Town funds arts -based community development projects in a way that is authentic, equitable, and augments existing local assets. Since Our Town's inception in 2011 and including these projects, the NEA will have awarded 256 Our Town grants totaling more than $21 million in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The NEA received 275 applications for Our Town this year. Recommended grant amounts ranged from $25,000 to $200,000. For a complete listing of projects recommended for Our Town grant support, please visit the NEA web site at Project descriptions, grants listed by state and by project type, and resources are available as well. The Twitter hashtag for the national program is #NEAOurTown14.

The Mission of the California Arts Council, a state agency, is to advance California through the arts and creativity. Members of the California Arts Council include: Chair Wylie Aitken, Vice Chair Susan Steinhauser, Michael Alexander, Christopher Coppola, Donn K. Harris, Charmaine Jefferson, William Turner, and Rosalind Wyman. Learn more at

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