The pieces are coming together in Macon’s College Hill Corridor, a geographic region comprised of the neighborhoods connecting downtown Macon and the campus of Mercer University (a Knight grantee). The area is in the midst of a renaissance. The newest piece in the revitalization puzzle is the announcement of an ArtPlace America grant to support the completion of the Tattnall Square Center for the Arts. The proposed center will serve as a community theater and arts venue, as well as the home of Mercer’s Theatre Department.
ArtPlace America is a collaborative initiative of more than 12 national foundations, including Bloomberg Philanthropies, The Ford Foundation, The James Irvine Foundation, The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, The McKnight Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The William Penn Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation, Rasmuson Foundation, The Surdna Foundation and two anonymous donors.
For several years, the former Tattnall Square Presbyterian Church has stood unoccupied at the corner of Olgethorpe and College Streets. The structure fell into disrepair even as the neighborhood surrounding it was rejuvenated. In 2010, the building and surrounding property were donated to Mercer University by the Flint River Presbytery. Since that time, the university has worked with the community to find a new use for the facility.
The grant proposal for the new arts center was selected from a large pool of applicants. According to a release from the unversity, “ArtPlace America received more than 1,200 grant inquiries from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The applications yielded 105 finalists, from which 54 were selected to receive grants for their potential to have a transformative impact on community vibrancy.”
“Mercer is pleased to be one of the select few organizations to receive an ArtPlace America grant this year,” said Mercer President William D. Underwood. “The fact Macon is represented in this elite group of awardees is a testament to the progress that has been made over the last three years in the College Hill Corridor. The ArtPlace America grant, combined with the other gifts and grants that have been committed to this project, puts us within striking distance of completing the fundraising so we can begin renovation of the facility this year.”
The Tattnall Square Center for the Arts is an investment in creative placemaking and is in many ways a capstone on the neighborhood’s multi-year revitalization effort.
“ArtPlace America recognizes the central role arts and cultural activities can have in the revitalization of American cities,” said Rip Rapson, chair of ArtPlace America’s Presidents’ Council. “With this grant award ArtPlace America is directing individual project support to scores of creative, high-impact projects throughout the country.”
“The Tattnall Square Center for the Arts will serve as a cornerstone for revitalization of the College Hill Corridor,” said Dennis Scholl, vice president/arts for the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. “By creating a bustling gathering place for the entire community it will work to change the landscape of the neighborhood and help build stronger connections.”