Reedsburg Times Press (Wisconsin)
Reedsburg is among two dozen cities and towns across the nation selected as the focus of a new economic development project.
On Sept. 15, ArtPlace announced its first round of grants, investing $11.5 million in 34 locally initiated projects in cities from Honolulu to Miami. The Wormfarm Institute has received a grant of $100,000 from a new private-public collaboration, ArtPlace (www.artplaceamerica.org) for Reedsburg Fermentation Fest and Farm/Art DTour.
"This is an incredible opportunity for our region," said Wormfarm Executive Director Donna Neuwirth, "We are very fortunate to have local leaders who recognize that community revitalization, agriculture and the arts are linked. After all, the word ‘culture' is embedded in agriculture. This creative placemaking grant will allow us to invest significant resources at a critical time as we build an ambitious cultural event that celebrates food and farming using the vision of artists to explore and expand the timeless connections between land and people."
Previously announced this summer, the Wisconsin Department of Tourism presented a $20,665 Joint Effort Marketing grant to the Wormfarm Institute, and Fermentation Fest received an Our Town grant worth $50,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts. Wormfarm earned one of only 51 grants awarded by NEA nationwide, among 337 applicants.
Each project supported by ArtPlace has been selected for developing a new model of helping towns and cities thrive by strategically integrating artists and arts organizations into key local efforts in transportation, housing, community development, job creation and more, according to a news release announcing the grants.
ArtPlace is an initiative of 11 of America's top foundations working in conjunction with the National Endowment for the Arts and seven federal agencies. Its aim is to drive revitalization across the country by putting the arts at the center of economic development.
Reedsburg Fermentation Fest - A Live Culture Convergence brings together new and existing arts activities and the food and farming community for a 10-day annual fall festival during which farmers, chefs, artists, poets and cheese makers converge in the working lands of Sauk County for a series of tastings, demonstrations, art events, seminars, farm tours and more.
It features the Farm/Art DTour a self-guided 50-mile scenic loop with land based art installations, artist-built Roadside Culture Stands, Field Notes (rural education sites), and outdoor performances through the landscape that is itself a cultural resource.
"To thrive, rural America will need infusions of new people, new ideas and new sources of vibrancy" Reedsburg Mayor Dave Estes said in the news release. "Wormfarm Institute is an asset for Reedsburg that delivers on all three of these needs. With the collaboration among Wormfarm, Sauk County and The Reedsburg Chamber, we can create a model to jump-start our economy that is grounded in who we are."
The approach being taken by ArtPlace, known as "creative placemaking," has emerged over the past 20 years as a promising way to increase the vitality of communities and help them grow. In 2011, the National Endowment for the Arts built on its two decades of work in creative placemaking by announcing the first grants in its new Our Town program, designed to support public-private partnerships to strengthen the arts while energizing the overall community. ArtPlace takes this movement a step further, as the first major public-private partnership to encourage creative placemaking across America.
"ArtPlace is accelerating creative placemaking, where cities and towns are using the arts and other creative assets to shape their social, physical and economic futures," said Rocco Landesman, chairman of National Endowment for the Arts. "This approach brings new partners to the table to support the arts and recognizes the arts as vital drivers of community revitalization and development."
ArtPlace funders include Bloomberg Philanthropies, The Ford Foundation, The James Irvine Foundation, The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, The McKnight Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation, Rasmuson Foundation, The Robina Foundation and an anonymous donor. In addition to the NEA, federal partners are the departments of Housing and Urban Development; Health and Human Services; Agriculture; Education; and Transportation; along with leadership from the White House Office of Management and Budget and the Domestic Policy Council. Federal partners do not provide funding to ArtPlace but participate in the ArtPlace Presidents' Council and Operating Committee meetings, ensuring alignment between high-priority federal investments and policy development and ArtPlace grants.