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Foundations, Federal Agencies Collaborate on Arts Initiative Designed to Help Revitalize Cities

by Philanthropy News Digest

September 16, 2011

The Ford Foundation has announced the launch of ArtPlace, a public-private collaboration designed to drive revitalization in cities and towns by putting the arts at the center of economic development.

In conjunction with its launch, ArtPlace announced grants totaling $11.5 million to thirty-four projects across the country that have developed a new model to help towns and cities thrive, by strategically integrating artists and arts organizations into key local efforts in transportation, housing, community development, and job creation, among other things. Indeed, the new initiative seeks to support projects in which cultural groups operate in concert with other community partners — not as an add-on — to seed entrepreneurial projects that already enjoy strong local buy-in, connect to a community’s economic development strategy, and have the potential to attract additional private and public support to the community.

Support for ArtPlace was provided by the Ford, James Irvine, John S. and James L. Knight, Kresge, McKnight, Andrew W. Mellon, Rasmuson, Robina, and Rockefeller foundations, as well as Bloomberg Philanthropies and an anonymous donor. also In addition, it will be supported by a $12 million loan fund established with contributions from six financial institutions and managed by the Nonprofit Finance Fund. Federal partners — which will participate in the ArtPlace Presidents’ Council and Operating Committee meetings to ensure alignment between high-priority federal investments and policy development and ArtPlace grants — include the National Endowment for the Arts and the departments of Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services, Agriculture, and Education and Transportation, as well as officials from the White House Office of Management and Budget and the Domestic Policy Council.

“ArtPlace represents a new paradigm,” said Ford Foundation president Luis A. Ubiñas. “It brings to the arts the kind of economic development thinking that has long been pursued for attracting and developing businesses, big and small, across the country. ArtPlace’s integrated, interwoven approach has the potential to kick-start local economies and transform communities. The arts can play a central role spurring local economic activity.”

For a complete list of supported projects, visit the Ford Foundation Web site.

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