NEA Awards bcW Our Town Grant

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 ColumbiabcWORKSHOP will receive $50,000 for Activating Vacancy, a collaborative effort to engage residents in the positive development of Dallas’s Historic Tenth Street District. 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 nonprofit organization and a local government entity.


Dating back to the post-Civil War era, the Tenth Street District of Dallas, Texas, is the city’s most intact Freedman’s Town—between 1865 and 1867, a group of former slaves were deeded ten acres of land each. Today the area has a high level of vacancy and many deteriorating buildings.

The local not-for-profit buildingcommunityWORKSHOP (bcWORKSHOP), together with Dallas CityDesign Studio and Preservation Dallas, is creating the project Activating Vacancy to engage Tenth Street District residents and artists to design a series of temporary design installations that illustrate a potential framework for future development, including priorities for preservation of the unique historic structures. The project will result in six temporary art installations and a comprehensive framework document for the future of the area. The project will also enhance the cultural heritage of the Tenth Street Historic District, benefiting the neighborhood's 440 residents, 80 percent of which are considered low to moderate-income.

"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 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. Activating Vacancy received a cultural planning and design grant award. 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 Activating Vacancy.