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National Endowment for the Arts Announces
2012 Our Town Grant Recipients

City of Santa Rosa’s Art in Public Places Program one of 80 grantees selected nationwide

Santa Rosa, CA-- The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) announces 80 Our Town grant awards totaling $4.995 million and reaching 44 states and the District of Columbia.  The City of Santa Rosa’s Arts Program is one of the grantees and will receive $50,000 to fund the development of a Public Art Master Plan.

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 improve quality of life, 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 a minimum of a not-for-profit organization and a local government entity.

Santa Rosa is the county seat of Sonoma County. The city has several plans and ordinances related to the arts, such as 1% for Public Art in Private Development Ordinance and Business Plan for the Downtown Arts District. However, it does not have a comprehensive master plan for public art. The City of Santa Rosa will use its Our Town grant to develop such a plan.

The City’s Art in Public Places Program will lead the project, working with the Sonoma County Museum and many local arts and business organizations. Funding will be used to hire a public art consultant selected through a competitive request for qualifications process; the consultant will facilitate community input, organize and host stakeholder meetings, and form focus groups of arts not-for-profit organizations. The Sonoma County Museum is planning to relocate to a building in downtown Santa Rosa, and the public art master plan will guide its incorporation of historic squares and public spaces for outdoor lectures, workshops, performances, and other educational programs. Project activities are expected to position downtown Santa Rosa as an arts destination.

"Cities and towns are transformed when you bring the arts – both literally and figuratively – into the center of them,” said NEA Chairman Landesman. "From Teller, Alaska to Miami, Florida, communities are pursuing creative placemaking, making their neighborhoods more vibrant and robust by investing in the performing, visual, and literary arts. I am proud to be partnering with these 80 communities and their respective arts, civic, and elected leaders."

“This is a perfect opportunity to review and evaluate the City’s current public art offerings, as well as to ask the community how public art impacts their lives,” said Santa Rosa’s Arts Coordinator, Tara Matheny-Schuster. “Partnering with the Sonoma County Museum as well arts and business organizations will provide a rich collaborative environment for developing a comprehensive public art master plan. This process will also help us set priorities in a time of very limited resources, and will put is us in a much better position to apply for grants in the future.”

The NEA received 317 applications for Our Town that were assigned to one of three application review panels based on their project type; arts engagement, cultural planning and design, or non-metro and tribal communities. With only 80 grants emerging from the 317 applications, or a success rate of 25 percent, competition was strong, a testament to the artistic excellence and merit of the City of Santa Rosa’s Art in Public Places Program.

For a complete listing of projects recommended for Our Town grant support, please visit the NEA web site at arts.gov.

For more information on the City of Santa Rosa’s Arts Program, please visit srcity.org/arts, or contact Tara Matheny-Schuster, tarams@srcity.org, (707) 543-4512.