In July, the Arts & Science Council (ASC) with the City of Charlotte received an Our Town grant totaling $100,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). This grant will help fund public artwork that is part of the revitalization efforts occurring on the North Tryon Street Corridor from Dalton Avenue to West 30th Street. The ASC (a Knight Arts grantee) and the City of Charlotte are one of 80 Our Town grant recipients in 44 states and the District of Columbia.
Our Town grants are an initiative of the NEA to encourage creative placemaking. This concept, promoted by NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman, is part of the upsurge in the creative economy and cultural tourism and strives to use the arts to shape a city or town’s social, physical, and economic character. According to the NEA, Our Town projects will “help transform communities into lively, beautiful and sustainable places with the arts at their core.”
Working with the McColl Center for Visual Art (a Knight Arts grantee), ASC and the City of Charlotte plan to integrate environmentally based artwork into a new street scape plan on the North Tryon Street Corridor. This plan is part of neighborhood revitalization efforts and a proposed urban farm project by Vision Ventures and Cultivatis. In April 2012, plans for changed street patterns were released that make North Tryon a one way street going away from the City and Church Street one way heading into the City. According to engineering project manager, Tom Russell, the “goal is to revitalize distressed business corridors in Charlotte.”
To kick off the grant project an artist selection process will occur followed by a three-month residency at the McColl Center for the artist to work with stakeholders to design and fabricate the artwork. So far plans for the Our Town project are still sketchy, but the ASC hopes to benefit the entire Center City area, reaching 2,700 residents, 562 businesses and more than 5,500 employees in the neighborhood. We all eagerly await these improvements!
For more information about the North Tryon Street Corridor plans, visit the Engineering and Property Management section of the City of Charlotte/Mecklenburg County website.