Press Release: City of Kinston Receives NEA Grant for AAMT

@NEAarts @ncculture @NCArtsCouncil

Contacts: Adam Short, adam.short@ci.kinston.nc.us, 252-933-1393
Brendan Greaves, brendan.greaves@ncdcr.gov, 919-807-6509
Sandy Landis, slandis@kinstoncca.com, 252-527-2517

Date: July 12, 2012

National Endowment for the Arts Announces 2012 Our Town Grant Recipients

City of Kinston one of 80 grantees selected nationwide

[Kinston] — The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) announces 80 Our Town grant awards totaling $4.995 million and reaching 44 states and the District of Columbia. The City of Kinston is one of the grantees and will receive $100,000 to finalize the African American Music Trail (AAMT) Park and promote connectivity between existing culturally significant locations related to the AAMT and the arts around downtown Kinston.

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 improve quality of life, 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 a minimum of a not-for-profit organization and a local government entity.

The City of Kinston has partnered with the North Carolina Arts Council and the Kinston Community Council for the Arts to acquire this grant and initiate the major components of the project. The project consists of three major components: 1. Finishing the design and construction of the AAMT Park, effectively creating a new AAMT cultural district along South Queen Street; 2. Connecting culturally significant areas that are directly related to the AAMT as well as other arts-centered areas around downtown Kinston; and 3. Continued planning for the development and promotion of the AAMT.

“Cities and towns are transformed when you bring the arts – both literally and figuratively – into the center of them,” said NEA Chairman Landesman. “From Teller, Alaska to Miami, Florida, communities are pursuing creative placemaking, making their neighborhoods more vibrant and robust by investing in the performing, visual, and literary arts. I am proud to be partnering with these 80 communities and their respective arts, civic, and elected leaders.”

“The Our Town award to Kinston is a tribute to the vision of the city, the local arts council and to eastern North Carolina’s rich African American music traditions,” said Wayne Martin, Executive Director of the North Carolina Arts Council. “This project shows how a community with rich arts and a strong, unique sense of place can partner with state and local government and nonprofits to create economic growth.”

“This is a great opportunity to put Kinston and the arts on the national stage”, said Kinston Mayor BJ Murphy. “This is further proof that the African American Music Trail is having a tremendous impact on Kinston and the region. I am proud to see a project funded that highlights the cultural contributions of Kinston’s African-American community. I am excited for our staff and our partners to start utilizing these grant funds to improve our community by accentuating music and the arts.”

“It is to the credit of the willingness of the musicians, community stakeholders, the City of Kinston and the NC Arts Council to have had faith in our belief that the arts not only impact the quality of life in a community but are key catalysts in economic and tourism development,” said Sandy Landis, Executive Director of the Kinston Community Council for the Arts. “The African American Music project demonstrates that we can use our people resource, and our cultural history to help us as a community have a sustainable and prosperous future.”

The NEA received 317 applications for Our Town that were assigned to one of three application review panels based on their project type; arts engagement, cultural planning and design, or non-metro and tribal communities. With only 80 grants emerging from the 317 applications, or a success rate of 25 percent, competition was strong, a testament to the artistic excellence and merit of Kinston’s “African American Music Trails: Corridors of Connectivity in Downtown Kinston” project.

For a complete listing of projects recommended for Our Town grant support, please visit the NEA web site at arts.gov.