Arts-based Community Development Investment for Grand Rapids

SiTE:LAB one of 64 National Endowment for the Arts Our Town projects selected nationwide

 Grand Rapids, MI— National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Chairman Jane Chu announced 64 awards totaling $4.3 million supporting projects across the nation through the NEA’s Our Town program. Grand Rapids arts non-profit, SiTE:LAB is one of the recommended organizations for an award of $50,000 to support its 2016 ArtPrize Exhibition, returning the organization to Rumsey Street in the Roosevelt Park neighborhood. The Our Town grant program supports creative placemaking projects that help to transform communities into lively, beautiful, and resilient places with the arts at their core. The NEA received 240 applications for Our Town this year and will make awards ranging from $25,000 to $100,000.

“For six years, Our Town has made a difference for people and the places where they live, work, and play,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “Projects such as the one led by SiTE:LAB help residents engage the arts to spark vitality in their communities.”

“We are obviously thrilled to have the NEA recognize the work being done by SiTE:LAB,” said SiTE:LAB co-founder and curator Paul Amenta. “We have a number of artists who have proposed very ambitious pieces for ArtPrize this year, and this award will allow us to help them make those projects happen. It will also allow for an expanded educational program and neighborhood outreach strategies.”

SiTE:LAB’s Rumsey Street Project involves the use of over three acres and ten vacant structures in Grand Rapids’ Roosevelt Park neighborhood as a temporary arts district during 2015 and 2016. The property, acquired by Habitat for Humanity of Kent County as part of a major neighborhood redevelopment initiative, is on loan to SiTE:LAB through the end of 2016. Its 2015 ArtPrize exhibition on the property won the ArtPrize juried award for best venue, and one of the pieces in the exhibition, Kate Gilmore’s Higher Ground, won the $200,000 grand prize juried award.

“One of the major factors considered by the NEA in the selection process was community collaboration,” said SiTE:LAB exhibition coordinator Tom Clinton. “I suspect this project stood out in that regard, as we have had incredible community support. The City of Grand Rapids signed on early as a primary partner in the application. Financial sponsors such as the Frey Foundation, Herman Miller Cares and Xibitz provided the matching funds required by the NEA. And many community organizations like Habitat Kent, the Roosevelt Park Neighborhood Association, Grandville Avenue Business Association, ArtPrize and the Cook Arts Center, just to name a few, have each assisted in their own way on this project.”

For a complete list of projects recommended for Our Town grant support, please visit the NEA web site at The NEA’s online resource, Exploring Our Town, features case studies of more than 70 Our Town projects along with lessons learned and other resources.

To join the Twitter conversation about this announcement, please use #NEAOurTown16.