The Our Town grant program supports creative placemaking projects that help to transform communities into lively, beautiful, and resilient places with the arts at their core. Creative placemaking is when artists, arts organizations, and community development practitioners deliberately integrate arts and culture into community revitalization work – placing arts at the table with land-use, transportation, economic development, education, housing, infrastructure, and public safety strategies. This funding supports local efforts to enhance quality of life and opportunity for existing residents, increase creative activity, and create a distinct sense of place.
Through Our Town, subject to the availability of funding, the National Endowment for the Arts will provide a limited number of grants for creative placemaking. Our Town requires partnerships between arts organizations and government, other nonprofit organizations, and private entities to achieve livability goals for communities.
Our Town offers support for projects in two areas:
- Arts Engagement, Cultural Planning, and Design Projects. These projects represent the distinct character and quality of their communities. These projects require a partnership between a nonprofit organization and a local government entity, with one of the partners being a cultural organization. Matching grants range from $25,000 to $200,000.
- Projects that Build Knowledge About Creative Placemaking. These projects are available to arts and design service organizations, and industry or university organizations that provide technical assistance to those doing place-based work. Matching grants range from $25,000 to $100,000.
OUR TOWN: Arts Engagment, Cultural Planning, and Design Projects – Applicant Eligibility
All applications require partnerships that involve at least two primary partners: a nonprofit organization and a local governmental entity, as defined by these guidelines. One of the two primary partners must be a cultural (arts or design) organization. Additional partners are encouraged.
One of the two primary partners must act as the official applicant (lead applicant). This lead applicant must meet the eligibility requirements, submit the application, and assume full responsibility for the grant.
Eligible lead applicants are:
- Nonprofit tax-exempt 501(c)(3) U.S. organizations with a documented three-year history of programming.
- Local governments. For the purposes of these guidelines, local governments are defined as counties, parishes, cities, towns, villages, or federally recognized tribal governments. Local arts agencies or other departments, agencies, or entities within an eligible local government may submit the application on behalf of that local government. The following do not qualify as local governments: state level government agencies, other state-designated entities, state higher education institutions, regional governments and entities, quasi-government organizations, regional planning organizations, and business improvement districts.For U.S. territories, if no local government exists, the territory government can serve as the local government.
To be eligible, the lead applicant organization must:
- Meet the Arts Endowment’s “Legal Requirements,” including nonprofit, tax-exempt status, at the time of application.
- Have submitted acceptable Final Report packages by the due date(s) for all Arts Endowment award(s) previously received.
Additional partners are encouraged and may include an appropriate variety of entities such as arts organizations and artists, design professionals and design centers, state level government agencies, foundations, nonprofit organizations, educational institutions, real estate developers, business leaders, community organizations, council of governments, rural planning organizations, transportation agencies, special districts, educational organizations, as well as public and governmental entities. Federal agencies cannot be monetary partners.
The designated state and jurisdictional arts agencies (SAAs) and their regional arts organizations (RAOs) may serve as partners, but not primary partners, in projects. NEA funds can’t support any SAA or RAO costs. There is an exception for U.S. territories. The territory’s SAA may serve as the local government primary partner. However, all grant funds must be passed on to the other partners.
You may apply to other Arts Endowment funding opportunities, including Art Works and Challenge America, in addition to Our Town. In each case, the request must be for a distinctly different project, or a distinctly different phase of a project. If you have applied to the NEA in the past and were not recommended for funding, you may apply again to any funding opportunity, including Our Town.