Greetings all,
We hope this newsletter finds you healthy, well, and staying cool! We continue to be inspired by the energy and creativity coming from design and creative placemaking communities, responding to COVID-19 and racial injustice in communities large and small. Read on for updates and announcements from the Arts Endowment and some great activities happening in the field.
Arts Endowment News
Our Town Application Deadline Approaching - August 6!
Our Town is the National Endowment for the Arts’ creative placemaking grant program. These grants support projects that integrate arts, culture, and design activities into efforts that strengthen communities by advancing local economic, physical, and/or social outcomes. Projects require a partnership between a nonprofit organization and a local government entity, with one of the partners being a cultural organization. Cost share/matching grants range from $25,000 to $150,000, with a minimum cost share/match equal to the grant amount.
In addition to previously eligible project types, Our Town FY2021 invites creative placemaking projects and innovative partnerships that respond to evolving and emerging local community needs. These may include efforts to support artists and cultural organizations in addressing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, artist unemployment, racial inequity, and other needs that may not be clear at this specific time. 
Check out the grant guidelines a nd these recent webinars to assist with the application process :

  • How to Apply and Prepare a Project Proposal to Our Town – Led by Arts Endowment and LISC staff, this webinar offered an overview on how to apply and ensure your Our Town application is clear and compelling, and share practical advice on how to develop your local partnership.

  • Inspiration for Prospective Our Town Applicants – This webinar featured Randy Engstrom, director of the Office of Arts and Culture, City of Seattle; Joy Young, executive director, Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville; and Suzanne Pickett, executive director, Jacksonville Cultural Development, who shared ideas and inspiration for projects in the time of COVID-19. 
CARES Act Grant Awards Announced
The National Endowment for the Arts recently announced the nonprofit arts organizations recommended for direct funding through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. These 855 organizations —located in every state, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico—will receive a total of $44.5 million in nonmatching funds to support staff salaries, fees for artists or contractual personnel, and facilities costs. The National Endowment for the Arts received more than 3,100 eligible applications requesting $157 million for the $45 million available in direct assistance. To review the applications, the agency used more than 200 application readers and panelists to review and score each application using the published review criteria.  Read the full press release .
Ongoing Arts Endowment COVID-19 Response
We have grant management  FAQs for current grantees ( regarding our non-CARES Act funding categories) , and a growing list of relief resources and opportunities  related to COVID-19. For questions about COVID-19-related changes to your current grant award, Art Works Design grantees may contact Courtney Spearman and Our Town grantees may contact Katherine Bray-Simons.
Chairman’s Corner
Visit our website to listen to Chairman Mary Anne Carter’s weekly podcast , which recently featured Our Town's tenth anniversary ).
Grantee Feature: University of Tennessee Knoxville
Following the historic and devastating Great Smoky Mountains wildfires of 2016, the University of Tennessee Knoxville in partnership with other local groups developed an oral history and art project to commemorate the event. With support from an Our Town grant, artists have created works that respond to oral histories and archival material focused on the fires, and residents have shared their experiences with the fires through public artmaking workshops. The project is the core of a larger disaster response initiative meant to promote community healing in the wake of one of the largest natural disasters in Tennessee history. Read the recent Art Works Blog about the project.
Image: Dr. Desola Odunayo, clinical assistant professor of emergency and critical care at the University of Tennessee's Veterinary Medical Center, participates in an oral history project about the 2016 wildfires in the Great Smoky Mountains via Zoom. The project will receive support from a new Our Town grant. Photo courtesy of the University of Tennessee
MICD has launched a new series of virtual seminars for small groups of mayors. The first two topics addressing monuments ( with presentation posted ) and safe public space respond to the dynamic and ever-changing needs of cities today. Also check out Trinity Simons' interview with MICD's founder, Mayor Joseph P. Riley, in her latest column at Common Edge . Learn about the origins and design of Charleston's International African American Museum, which will tell the unvarnished story of one of the largest sites in the international slave trade, and which Mayor Riley calls "the most important work of my life."

CIRD continues to amplify the powerful role of design in rural communities, most recently in a webinar on rural design responses to COVID-19 ( check out both webinars in the series on the CIRD website , with the third webinar coming soon). In-person workshops in three communities are also pivoting to innovative virtual/in-person hybrids, taking place over a series of days at Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Athens, Ohio, and in the coming months in Millinocket, Maine, and Pueblo of Laguna in New Mexico. We'll share highlights from those workshops in the coming months, including insights for how we pivoted to on-line engagement.
News from the Field
Note: These links lead to websites other than

The Society of Architectural Historians is accepting nominations for the 2021 SAH Award for Film and Video. The award recognizes the most distinguished work of film or video on the history of the built environment. The award is global in scope with no geographic or political boundaries limiting subject matter or production team. The topic of the film or video must be any aspect of the built environment. Nominations are due July 31.
Based on common foundations and a shared vision, NOMA , NAACP , and the SEED Network announce a call for applications for the NOMA-NAACP-SEED Design Awards for diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice (DEIJ) in design, architecture, and land development diversity. Six projects will be selected through a juried process of distinguished experts. Applications are due August 1 .
The fourth annual Spaces and Places convening will take place virtually on August 6-7. Building on momentum started in 2016 and supported by Next City and BlackSpace , this grassroots network of urban planners, policymakers, and designers seeks to amplify work on the issues affecting communities of color that are too often not fully recognized or addressed by professional urban planning and design communities. This year’s theme, Reclaiming, aims to position BIPOC urbanists, designers, and activists as defiant catalysts for liberation and equity. Register now .
Next City has launched a new series of e-books, supported by the Kresge Foundation, entitled For Whom, By Whom . The first volume features stories from 10 communities, chronicling how creative placemaking can expand opportunities for low-income people living in disinvested communities.
Baltimore City leaders and the  Neighborhood Design Center  recently released the  Design for Distancing Ideas Guidebook , which has 10 concepts for businesses looking to expand onto streets, sidewalks, and even vacant lots in a way that aligns with public health guidelines. Download it for free .
Design Museum recently opened We Design: People.Practice.Progress , an online exhibition program designed to inspire young adults, particularly women and those from historically underinvested communities of color, to explore careers in creative industries. Supported in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, the exhibition also includes a physical exhibition that can travel.
Save the Date! This year, ArtPlace America culminates a decade of work as part of an extraordinary community of artists, community developers, culture bearers, designers, government officials, philanthropists, and researchers who have come together from rural, suburban, tribal, and urban communities across the United States. To help celebrate this collaborative work, ArtPlace will host a virtual summit the week of October 26-30. The summit will be free for anyone who wants to attend, with registration opening later this summer.

Nerdy Design Thing We Are Following
Fort Bend County, Texas (outside of Houston) has been the recent "site" of a remarkable virtual space. The death of George Floyd compelled Fort Bend residents to create #ArtForJustice, a platform for students to imagine a more just world through artistic expression. Over 160 pieces of original artwork were collected in the three days before Floyd's public memorial service in Houston to show solidarity with the Black community. The work is presented through a beautiful virtual museum created by the talented designers at INVI, allowing a growing worldwide audience to experience the community’s creativity, love, and vision in memory and celebration of George Floyd, a member of the Houston community for much of his life. You can visit the museum on INVI's website ( complete with instructions for how to navigate if you have trouble finding your way in) .
image courtesy INVI

Contact Us
Director, Design & Creative Placemaking
Jennifer Hughes:

Specialist - Design Grants for Arts Projects
Courtney Spearman:

Specialist - Our Town
Katherine Bray-Simons:
Design Queries

Our Town Queries