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. ART Station in Stone Mountain is one of the grantees and will receive $50,000 to continue to operate, market and expand the City of Stone Mountain’s Micro enterprise Arts Incubator Program.
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 mission of the Stone Mountain Arts Incubator is to plan for, build, develop, foster, and to nurture a creative economy in the City of Stone Mountain, Georgia. This mission is to be achieved by providing five opportunities to artists/craft persons. The five goals are: 1) To provide low rent studio spaces to eight artists for the creation of their art work. 2) To provide exhibition/gallery space for the eight artists to display and sell created art works from the incubator studios. 3) To provide business and artistic technical assistance workshops to the selected artists and other artists members. 4) To provide networking opportunities among the selected artists and to other artists who become members of the arts incubator project. 5) To assist the artists to collaborate to open creative businesses in the City of Stone Mountain after the artists have completed the two-year incubation process. The program is entitled SMart, Inc. which stands for Stone Mountain Arts Incubator Project. The project opened its doors in October of 2010 and has been determined to be a model for economic development through the arts. The program received the “Most Creative Economic Development Award” by the Atlanta Regional Commission, a “Georgia Trend Setter Award” by Georgia Trend Magazine and the “Start Award” by the Georgia Arts Network.
The Stone Mountain Arts Incubator is funded by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development as part of the Economic Development program and is sponsored by the DeKalb County Community Development Department and the City of Stone Mountain. The program is powered and managed by the ART Station Contemporary Arts Center in Stone Mountain Village. ART Station is a not-for-profit professional arts center with a 27 year history of producing professional theatre, operating five art galleries and producing arts educational and outreach programs throughout Metro Atlanta.
“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.”
David Thomas, President and Artistic Director of the ART Station in Stone Mountain says that “the program has changed the face of our downtown by renovating four downtown buildings and putting vibrant and colorful art studios and galleries in. At present we have one gallery café, six artist studios and four galleries. Plans are under way to open two more studio spaces in August. The program has also attracted other art galleries, restaurants and businesses to our village. Stone Mountain Village is an arts and cultural destination and we are extremely excited and fortunate to be able to partner with the National Endowment for the Arts to expand and market this project.
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. ART Station received an Our Town Placemaking grant award. 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 ART Station in Stone Mountain.
For a complete listing of projects recommended for Our Town grant support, please visit the NEA web site at arts.gov.