CEDAR CITY, UT-- 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. Cedar City’s Office of Economic Development is one of the grantees and will receive up to $50,000 for landscape design, linking the Utah Shakespeare Festival with the city’s historic downtown. The Festival will match the grant amount to help complete this project.
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.
The combined funding from the NEA and the Festival will be used to design approximately five acres of public spaces that will surround the Festival’s new Shakespeare Center, and connect this space with Southern Utah University, the Southern Utah Museum of Art, and the city’s historic business district on University Boulevard. This project will create a “cultural corridor” in our city, opening up a new, beautiful pedestrian area and making the downtown area more inviting and more accessible to a greater number of residents and tourists.
"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."
Cedar City Mayor Joe Burgess said, “For more than two decades, Cedar City has been known as the ‘Festival City,’ because of our Tony Award-winning Utah Shakespeare Festival and all of the other festivals we host here each year. This grant will allow us to draw up plans to connect our Main Street Park and Historic Downtown to the heart of the Festival and SUU. This corridor will beautify our city, improve our downtown business district, and enhance our ‘Festival City’ image.”
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 Cedar City’s project.
For a complete listing of projects recommended for Our Town grant support, please visit the NEA web site at arts.gov.