Houston’s Mayor is Currently Accepting Proposals for the NEA “Our Town” Grant

by Jessica Fuentes June 13, 2022

The National Endowment for the Arts’ (NEA) annual grant program Our Town provides funding for creative placemaking initiatives. Because the NEA limits the number of applicants per city and requires a letter of endorsement from the city’s mayor, Houston’s Mayor Sylvester Turner recently announced that he is accepting proposals to consider for endorsement.

In a press release announcing the call for proposals, Mayor Turner stated, “Art is important in making a resilient and equitable Houston. I’m excited to see our city’s creativity reflected in the proposals that will be submitted for this opportunity with the NEA Our Town grant. Our artists and organizations are a testament to how far the city has come in ensuring its residents have equal access to the arts. I look forward to endorsing the best idea to strengthen our communities.”

Our Town projects require a partnership between a nonprofit organization and a local government entity. Additionally, one of the partners must be a cultural organization. Grant requests cannot exceed more than half of the total cost of the project and must be for one of the following levels: $25,000; $50,000; $75,000; $100,000; or $150,000.

Creative placemaking, as defined by NEA:

– integrates arts, culture, and design activities into efforts that strengthen communities
– requires partnership across sectors, deeply engages the community, involves artists, designers and culture bearers
– helps to advance local economic, physical, and/or social change, ultimately laying the groundwork for systems change

The organization also notes that, “This definition is intentionally open and broad because creative placemaking draws on all artistic disciplines, and can be deployed as a strategy to address a wide range of community issues or challenges from public health to safety, economic development to housing.”

A digital rendering of a design for the Freedmen's Town Visitors Center. The rendering depicts multiple small residential houses on a street with groups of people walking through the neighborhood.

A digital design of the Freedman’s Town Visitors Center.

2022 Texas recipients of the Our Town grant include Allison Orr Dance Inc (also known as ForkLift DanceWorks) in Austin and the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (CAMH). With the funding they have received, CAMH will partner with the City of Houston Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs and Houston Freedmen’s Town Conservancy to create public art, exhibitions, and arts programming that celebrates Freedmen’s Town, a historically Black community in Houston that has recently been designated a Heritage District. 

Learn more about the Our Town grant program on the NEA website. Completed applications must be submitted to the NEA by August 4, 2022 at 11:59 pm EDT. 

To be considered for an endorsement by Mayor Turner, applicants should submit their concepts with confirmed artists and partners to [email protected] by June 28, 2022. 

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