Wilson, N.C. (September 16, 2011) – The Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park Project has received a grant of $500,000 from 11 of America’s top foundations and the National Endowment for the Arts, in a nationwide initiative that puts the arts at the center of economic development.
ArtPlace, www.artplaceamerica.org, announced yesterday that through the City of Wilson, the Whirligig Park would be one of 34 locally initiated projects across the country funded by this new consortium. A total of $11.5 million will be distributed through the program.
"What a tremendous honor for Wilson, North Carolina, and the project to be selected in the inaugural round of grants from ArtPlace," said Henry Walston, chairman of the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park Project. "Their generous recognition will enable us to preserve the legacy of Vollis Simpson and conserve his original whimsical kinetic sculptures in central downtown for future generations to enjoy. "
The Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park Project has been the recipient of three Creative Economies grants from the N.C. Arts Council for documentation, park design and conservation. The Arts Council is also providing technical expertise for the project.
ArtPlace grants are given through the combined support of 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.
A life-long resident of Wilson County, Vollis Simpson is one of N.C.’s most recognized artists. He creates giant, kinetic, wind-powered whirligig sculptures. His works have been collected by museums, institutions and private collectors worldwide.
The town of Wilson is acquiring the collection of artworks, repairing and conserving works, designing and constructing a world-class art park in downtown Wilson where the renovated pieces will be the showcase of this public space. Located in the center of downtown, the park will be the heart of an industrial artisan district that is currently being developed.
“There are so many things about the Whirligig Park that we loved,” said Carol Coletta, President of ArtPlace. “It takes full advantage of a distinctively local asset to brand the city. It creates new vibrancy in downtown. And it integrates the park with a broader vision of how to bring new economic activity to Wilson. We believe it is a powerful model of the kind of creative placemaking ArtPlace wants to accelerate in cities all 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, 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.”
For a complete list of grants and project descriptions, please visit www.artplaceamerica.org.
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