YSU Gets $100K NEA Grant for Public Arts Project

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio –The National Endowment for the Arts has awarded Youngstown State University a $100,000 grant to launch a public arts project in Youngstown.

The award is among the largest of 64 NEA Our Town grants — out of nearly 250 applicants across the nation — announced last month. The program supports creative projects to transform communities into places with the arts at their core. It is the largest grant that YSU has ever received from NEA.

“Receiving a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts is like winning the top prize in a funding contest,” said Mike Crist, interim dean of the YSU College of Creative Arts and Communications and one of the authors of the grant application.

“The fact that this proposal was funded at this level is a stamp of approval for the goals we have set for arts engagement in our community. This grant will help us attract more external arts funding to the Mahoning Valley.”

The YSU project, which partners with arts, educational and philanthropic organizations throughout the region, is called INPLACE – Innovative Plan for Leveraging Arts through Community Engagement.

The project will focus on themes from planning initiatives developed from collaborations between the city of Youngstown, YSU, Kent State University, the Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative, the Economic Action Group and community development organizations.

Themes include way-finding, technology, parking, green infrastructure and lighting.

Partners in the project include the YSU College of Creative Arts and Communication, the YSU Regional Economic Development Initiative, YSU’s McDonough Museum of Art, the city of Youngstown “City of You” branding and marketing campaign, Kent State University’s College of Architecture and Environmental Design and Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative.

“The combination of these arts entities, along with growing public and private investment downtown and around campus, provides a powerful opportunity to involve citizens in shaping the future of the city,” Crist said. “This project is not limited to the creation and distribution of art but will act as an exploratory arm for community, economic and cultural development.”

Crist also acknowledged the support of the Youngstown Foundation, the Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley, the Raymond John Wean Foundation, Kent State University, the Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative, and the Mahoning County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.

The grant application was authored by Crist; Dominic C. Marchionda, city-university planner at YSU REDI; Leslie Brothers, professor of art and director of the McDonough Museum of Art at YSU; and R.J. Thompson, YSU professor of art.


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