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Freeman receives $150K national arts grant

FREEMAN -- National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Jane Chu announced plans to award 66 “Our Town” grants totaling $5.073 million and reaching 38 states in the Our Town program's fourth year of funding.

Freeman Arts/Earth Center proposal, featuring Freeman’s cultural and agricultural community, is among 66 projects selected nationwide.

The center will use a $150,000 grant to determine the feasibility of a facility incorporating a producing greenhouse configuration with an arts center capable of supporting the area’s strong and vibrant arts, heritage and agricultural traditions.

“The support of the NEA is immensely important to us,” said Dr. John Koch, project director of the Freeman Arts/Earth Center. “It’s not just the financial support. It is an affirmation that the shared vision of our community is worthy of full and serious consideration.”

Our Town is the National Endowment for the Arts’ most recent investment in creative placemaking, through which partners from both public and private sectors come together to shape the social, physical and economic character of an area around arts and cultural activities.

“The NEA grant provides Freeman a great opportunity to demonstrate the energy in a small rural community,” aaid Freeman City Administrator Carroll Vizecky. “A special relationship has always existed between Freeman and its farming community and it needs further development. Arts-based community development is the best method of centering around our strengths.”

The Our Town grants also involve a partnership with a local cultural organization to encourage cross-sector solutions to the challenges facing their communities. This is represented by Freeman Academy, the project’s co-applicant, whose mission describes a place “where Faith and the Arts bring learning to life”.

Freeman Academy Principal Katherine Minster said, “Freeman Academy has a rich history of being leaders in the integration of the arts into a strong academic program. We are looking forward to the potential opportunities that this center brings to Freeman Academy and the surrounding communities.”

Dr. Marty Matlock and the University of Arkansas Office for Sustainability’s Ecological Engineering Group will develop the parallel agricultural pieces of the project. Matlock’s team will evaluate design options for creating sustainable food production systems that are economically viable and energy efficient. The UA Ecological Engineering Group strives to integrate design, science and policy to enhance ecological services in built and non-built landscapes. Their collaborations with the UACDC have garnered more than 20 national and international design awards.

The NEA received 275 applications for Our Town this year. Recommended grant amounts ranged from $25,000 to $200,000.

-Source: National Endowment for the Arts