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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., July 17, 2013 – The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) announced 59 Our Town grant awards totaling $4.725 million and reaching 34 states in the Our Town program's third year of funding. ArtPrize, the world’s largest art competition, is one of those grantees and will receive $25,000 to create expanded walking path network for the 19 day event.
Through Our Town, the NEA supports creative placemaking projects that help transform communities into lively, beautiful, and sustainable places with the arts at their core. The grantee projects will encourage creative activity, create community identity and a sense of place, and help revitalize local economies. All Our Town grant awards were made to partnerships that consisted of at least one nonprofit organization and a local government entity.

"This is an exciting time to announce the Our Town grants as a national conversation around creative placemaking advances and deepens," said NEA Acting Chairman Joan Shigekawa. "The NEA leads on this topic not only through our funding but through webinars, publications, and research. With these resources, we will help to ensure that the field of creative placemaking continues to mature, enhancing the quality of life for communities across the country." 

ArtPrize pitched five new walking paths, one for each downtown neighborhood to secure the NEA grant. Each path will start in Rosa Parks Circle and lead visitors from the often-congested Center City venues into Heartside, Hillside, Westside and Monroe North. Even the Center City walking path is aimed at encouraging visitors to move throughout the ArtPrize district. While the paths will be marked with a temporary chalk stencil, technology will also play an important role in this initiative. A smart phone application will be one engagement tool that will enable ArtPrize to track steps, award visitor incentives and plan monthly downtown walking tours. For those without a smartphone, low-cost pedometers and printable maps will support the year round program.

“ArtPrize continues to broaden accessibility and lower barriers to contemporary art while establishing a strong sense of place for visitors to the city of Grand Rapids,” said Christian Gaines, executive director of ArtPrize. “The Our Town grant validates one of the major goals of ArtPrize 2013, make the three-square mile district more pedestrian friendly and get people walking more.”

The fifth annual ArtPrize event, will include 1,524 artist entries representing 47 countries and 45 states at 169 venues. Artists will compete for a combination of public votes and juried prizes to secure part of the world’s largest art prize, totaling $560,000. ArtPrize 2013 will take place Sept. 18-Oct. 6. More than 400,000 people are expected to visit Grand Rapids to experience the event.The NEA received 254 applications for Our Town this year. Grant amounts ranged from $25,000 to $200,000 with a median grant amount of $50,000.

For a complete listing of projects recommended for Our Town grant support, please visit the NEA
web site at arts.gov. Project descriptions, grants listed by state and by project type, and creative
placemaking resources are available as well. 

Additional information for ArtPrize can be found at ArtPrize.org.

About ArtPrize
ArtPrize is an international art competition, open to any artist and decided by public vote. It invites artists to try out new ideas on a large and diverse population of people. It seeks to broaden the critical dialogue around contemporary art by awarding the world’s largest art prize, at $560,000. Registered artists and venues connect online at artprize.org and agree to present the artwork for public display during the 19 day event. The public votes using mobile devices and the web to distribute $360,000, while an additional $200,000 in juried awards are decided by a group of international art experts. ArtPrize 2013 will include 1,524 entries representing 47 countries and 45 U.S. states and territories, and is expected to attract more than 400,000 active participants. Since its inception, individuals of all backgrounds have cast more than 1.7 million votes for public art.

By Brian Burch on