$50,000 will support ‘Storytellers as Placemakers Project’ fostering community ownership in Chuckie Harris Park and East Broadway Streetscape Project

There’s a brand new park in Somerville, with something for everyone. ~Photo by Douglas Yu

Chuckie Harris Park . – Photo by Douglas Yu

East Somerville Main Streets and the Somerville Arts Council have been selected to received $50,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), along with Mudflat Pottery School and the City of Somerville. That funding through the NEA’s Our Town grant program will support a project designed to celebrate and preserve the community’s cultural identity and foster community ownership in two projects in East Somerville: Chuckie Harris Park and the East Broadway Streetscape Project.

That project, Somerville’s Storytellers as Placemakers Project, will build off of the successes of previous ESMS and Arts Council events, and will consist of two phases; creating a cultural node around the newly reconstructed Chuckie Harris Park on Cross Street East, and converting the East Broadway Business District into a cultural corridor once the streetscape project is completed in 2014.

A series of workshops will be held where local artists and community partners will collaborate to organize hands-on community events with themes of Culinary Culture, Dance, Music, Oral Storytelling/Literature and Visual Arts. Partners will also capture stories of local residents and business owners, host a storytelling tour, and engage residents in a Storytelling Mural with Mudflat Pottery School. All activities will culminate in a large community festival which will celebrate the rich cultural diversity of the neighborhood, and the vibrant business district, as well as the new infrastructure changes.

The NEA announced last month 59 Our Town grants totaling $4.725 million and reaching 34 states in the Our Town program’s third year of funding.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 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 at least one nonprofit organization and a local government entity.

“This is an exciting time to announce the Our Town grants as a national conversation around creative placemaking advances and deepens,” said NEA Acting Chairman Joan Shigekawa. “The NEA leads on this topic not only through our funding but through webinars, publications, and research. With these resources, we will help to ensure that the field of creative placemaking continues to mature, enhancing the quality of life for communities across the country.”

“We’re proud that Somerville is receiving national recognition through this grant for our commitment to the arts, cultural and creativity, and that we can invest even further in the amazing transformation taking place in East Somerville,” said Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone. “Even as East Somerville evolves into a more vibrant and thriving neighborhood, this funding allows us to preserve the rich cultural history of the neighborhood, its diversity, and its character. Thanks to organizations like East Somerville Main Streets, the Somerville Arts Council and Mudflat Pottery School, fostering community ownership is easy in Somerville. I’m happy we can partner with these great organizations to receive this funding and make this project happen.”

The NEA received 254 applications for Our Town this year. Grant amounts ranged from $25,000 to $200,000 with a median grant amount of $50,000. For a complete listing of projects recommended for Our Town grant support, please visit the NEA website at arts.gov.


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