NEA Awards Two NC Communities Our Town Grants for Creative Placemaking

July 17, 2013 – The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has awarded 80 Our Town grants totaling $4.9 million across the country including two projects in Columbus and Salisbury, North Carolina.

The Our Town program supports creative placemaking projects that help transform communities into lively, beautiful, and sustainable places with the arts at the core. Projects revitalize downtowns and neighborhoods, instill a sense of place and pride in residents, attract creative workers and cultural travelers and create sustainable economic development.

Since the program’s inception in 2011 six North Carolina towns and cities have received Our Town grants including Charlotte, Kinston, Star/Central Park, Wilson, Columbus and Salisbury. Handmade in American will receive $50,000 for the project in Columbus, while the City of Salisbury will receive $25,000.

Acting Chairman Joan Shigekawa announced that the awards in 36 states totals $4.725 million will fund projects that engage the arts to help shape the social, physical, and economic character of communities.

“This is an exciting time to announce the Our Town grants as a national conversation around creative placemaking advances and deepens,” said Shigekawa. “The NEA leads on this topic not only through our funding but through webinars, publications, and research. With these resources, we will help to ensure that the field of creative placemaking continues to mature, enhancing the quality of life for communities across the country.”

Creative placemaking continues to be an effective development tool for communities of all sizes with 35 of the 59 projects sited in communities of less than 100,000 people. Among the many rural projects are seven first-time grantees all of which have populations under 5,000, including Columbus, N.C. which has a population of 999.

“For almost 18 years, HandMade in America has been a leader in rural creative placemaking,” said Greg Walker Wilson, Interim Executive Director of HandMade in America, based in Asheville. “HIA’s programs drive tourism, revitalize small towns, broaden markets, and create job opportunities by emphasizing Western North Carolina’s unique cultural assets and distinction as the cradle of craft. We are thrilled to receive one of the NEA Our Town grants, and look forward to working together to create lasting change for this region and the town of Columbus.”

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

About the North Carolina Arts Council

The North Carolina Arts Council works to make North Carolina The Creative State where a robust arts industry produces a creative economy, vibrant communities, children prepared for the 21st century and lives filled with discovery and learning. The Arts Council accomplishes this in partnership with artists and arts organizations, other organizations that use the arts to make their communities stronger and North Carolinians—young and old—who enjoy and participate in the arts. For more information visit  

About the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources

The N.C. Arts Council is a division of the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources, which annually serves more than 19 million people through its 27 historic sites, seven history museums, two art museums, the nation’s first state-supported Symphony Orchestra, the State Library, the N.C. Arts Council, and the State Archives.

The N.C. Department of Cultural Resources serves as a champion for North Carolina’s creative industry, which employs nearly 300,000 North Carolinians and contributes more than $41 billion to the state’s economy. To learn more, visit