Alaska Arts Southeast receives NEA "Our Town" grant
July 14, 2011
Our Town is the NEA’s new leadership initiative focused on creative placemaking projects. In creative placemaking, partners from both public and private sectors come together to strategically shape the physical and social character of a neighborhood, town, city, or region around arts and cultural activities.
The NEA Our Town grant will provide the focus for developing the National Historic Landmark Site of the Sheldon Jackson Campus into a year round community arts campus that the adjacent nonprofit organizations will share. Partner groups and Alaska Arts Southeast will celebrate this community effort by holding the Sitka Festival of Arts, Humanities and Natural Sciences next summer. This is a ten-week festival that will showcase each of the partners and celebrate collaboration among disciplines.
National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Landesman said, “Communities across our country are using smart design and leveraging the arts to enhance quality of life and promote their distinctive identities. In this time of great economic upheaval, Our Town provides communities an opportunity to reignite their economies.”
Alaska Arts Southeast’s Executive Director, Roger Schmidt, and Board President, Karen Grussendorf, are enthusiastic about the project. “This grant will allow us to move forward, collaborating with other organizations and individuals to develop additional programs, making the campus a true arts site. Sitka has a rich history and prides itself in being the state's artistic, cultural, and educational center. Our campus will be home for many exciting adventures in these areas and will bring a vibrant new focus to the historic site, as well as being a much needed economic engine for Sitka.” -- Karen Grussendorf, Board President for Alaska Arts Southeast, Inc.
In February of this year, Alaska Arts Southeast, Inc. received ownership of the core campus of the former Sheldon Jackson College, including 20 buildings. Since then, over 470 volunteers have worked to transform the closed campus into a home for Sitka Fine Arts Camp. 567 students from 37 Alaska communities and 21 other states were able to attend Camp there this summer.
With partner organizations as neighbors to the Camp, the potential for collaboration is too great to ignore. Next year, the Sitka Festival of Arts, Humanities and Natural Sciences will combine the offerings of the Sitka Fine Arts Camp, The Island Institute, Sitka Sound Science Center, Greater Sitka Arts Council, Sitka Summer Music Festival, Sitka Convention and Visitors Bureau, Indigenous Alaska Native Artists, Sitka Counseling and Prevention Services, Alaska State Museum, Pathways Across the Pacific and Sitka Economic Development Association and the Alaska Native Artist Demonstrators Program.
“The Our Town Project will be a chance to show people how science and art intersect, and that’s important.” Lisa Busch, Executive Director of the Sitka Sound Science Center
"The opportunities provided by the NEA "Our Town" grant are fantastic. We are excited to work with Alaska Arts Southeast and other Sitka organizations and individuals to create a 2012 Summer Arts Festival that will be its own amazing series of events, but we also believe the collaboration launched by this project has the potential to keep the Sheldon Jackson campus humming with arts, humanities, and natural science activities well into the future." Carolyn Servid, Co-Director of the Island Institute in Sitka.
“It’s really exciting to partner with Alaska Arts Southeast to bring Native Artists from around the Pacific Rim to Sitka.” Terry Rofkar, master Tlingit weaver, artist demonstrator, and teacher
Since its beginning in 1972, the mission of Alaska Arts Southeast (AASE) has been to provide Alaska youth with the opportunity to develop personal artistic interests and skills in an intensive artistic experience through stimulating, high quality, professional instruction in visual arts, music, dance, theater, writing, and Alaska Native Arts. www.fineartscamp.org
The National Endowment for the Arts was established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government. To date, the NEA has awarded more than $4 billion to support artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities. The NEA extends its work through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector.
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