Over the next two years, folklorist, curator and anthropologist Maribel Alvarez will lead a project repurposing the house of Raul Castro, Arizona’s first and only Mexican-American governor to date, into a local arts incubator in the border city of Nogales. Meanwhile, in Macon, Georgia, local visual artists will transform vacant lots in the majority black neighborhood of Southside into a “community campus” offering greater arts, culture and food access.
Both projects — along with 21 others — are winners of ArtPlace America’s $8.7 million 2017 National Creative Placemaking Fund. ArtPlace is a collaboration of foundations, federal agencies and financial institutions focused on creative placemaking — which recognizes that poorly executed “placemaking” can also lead to gentrification and displacement.
“Creative Placemaking seeks the full and robust integration of art and culture into the decisions that define the ebb and flow of community life” Rip Rapson, president and CEO of The Kresge Foundation and chair of the ArtPlace President’s Council, said in a release. “These projects embody what this looks like at its most effective.”
ArtPlace received a whopping 987 applications for this year’s funding cycle. Those entries were whittled down to the final 23, with an emphasis placed on rural communities — more than 50 percent of 2017’s winners were from rural America. ArtPlace also considered how the projects would drive community planning and development in sectors like transportation, agriculture, health and housing, among others.
To date, ArtPlace has supported 279 projects in 223 communities of all sizes, for a total of $86.4 million in investment. The full list of funded projects for 2017 is available here.
Rachel Dovey is an award-winning freelance writer and former USC Annenberg fellow living at the northern tip of California’s Bay Area. She writes about infrastructure, water and climate change and has been published by Bust, Wired, Paste, SF Weekly, the East Bay Express and the North Bay Bohemian.