NEA's Mayors' Institute Awards City Design Studio $100,000 For "Cultural Remapping"

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Some of the winners of the 21 National Endowment for the Arts grants handed out Thursday know precisely how -- and where -- that money will be spent. In Los Angeles, the $100,000 awarded through the Mayors' Institute on City Design 25th Anniversary Initiative will go toward the mixed-use Broadway Arts Center in downtown L.A.; in Phoenix, $25,000 in grant money will go toward redesigning a street that runs in front of the Downtown Phoenix Public Market. In fact, many of the projects are site-specific -- trails, arts campuses, cultural destinations and the like.

And then there are those initiatives dealing with infrastructure and ideas -- the less tangible projects, since you can't just point to a vacant lot and go, "There. The money will go there." Such is the case with the $100,000 Dallas received -- and by Dallas, I mean the privately funded, Dallas City Hall-based City Design Studio that's headed by Brent Brown of bcWORKSHOP. Where, for example, Chicago is using its $250,000 to convert four old buildings into a historic arts district, Dallas will use its $100,000 toward a project called Connecting the City, which, per the NEA's announcement, "will utilize design to overcome physical barriers separating Dallas's communities." Which means what, exactly?
This will include cultural mapping of the creative community, with input from all citizens on how to build the city with specific focus on the arts and design; design of communities that have been historically neglected, such as West Dallas, South Dallas, and Oak Cliff; and public art competitions that will engage public infrastructure where it has divided or become a burden to communities. Through this project, the Studio hopes to better connect the 1.2 million people that live in the 385 square miles that make up the city.
The city's official announcement concerning the award follows.
The Trinity Trust and the City of Dallas Announce a Special Grant Awarded to the Dallas CityDesign Studio from the National Endowment for the Arts

DALLAS, TX, July 15, 2010 -- The Trinity Trust Foundation and the City of Dallas are pleased to announce an exciting grant awarded to the Dallas CityDesign Studio by the National Endowment for the Arts. A list of 21 grants was announced in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania by the Chairman for the National Endowment for the Arts, Rocco Landesman.

These grants totaling $3 million were given through the National Endowment for the Arts Mayors' Institute on City Design 25th Anniversary Initiative (MICD25). This initiative focuses on supporting creative spaces that contribute toward the livability of communities and help transform sites into lively, beautiful and sustainable places with the arts at their core. Each of the MICD25 projects takes a problem such as isolated neighborhoods or a neglected waterfront and uses the arts to solve that problem.

The Dallas CityDesign Studio was created through a generous and visionary donation given to the City in October of 2009 by Rusty and Deedie Rose. The donation came through The Trinity Trust Foundation. The Rose family is extremely pleased to learn of the NEA grant. "The format of the Dallas CityDesign Center, the programs it is implementing and the award of the $100,000 grant from this preeminent organization, is an affirmation of the important work the studio is planning that will affect design in all areas of the City," said Deedie Rose.

The grants range in award size from $25,000 to $250,000 and are given to 21 communities ranging from Easton, Pennsylvania (population 26,000) to Los Angeles, California (population 9.8 million). This is the first grant program developed under Chairman Landesman's leadership.

"The CityDesign Studio would not exist without the generosity of Deedie and Rusty Rose who donated $2 million to provide support and advice on how Dallas can develop the area surrounding the Trinity River Corridor Project", said Mary K. Suhm, Dallas City Manager. "Under the leadership of well known and respected urban planner Larry Beasley, the studio has already created thoughtful and imaginative planning a well as inspiration to areas in West Dallas."

The Dallas CityDesign Studio is focused on connecting the City of Dallas back to the Trinity River and to the heart of living through programs and design that utilize thoughtful work, by overcoming historical neglect and physical barriers separating communities throughout the sprawling urban environment.

Currently, the Dallas CityDesign Studio is focused primarily on West Dallas and communities near Martin Luther King Boulevard. "How we work in areas of our city is paramount to creating a more sustainable public realm," said Brent Brown, AIA, director of the Dallas CityDesign Studio. "This work has been occurring in large and small gatherings at City Hall and in living rooms in order for the studio to develop a broad understanding of the interests of those affected by change and those working to create the change."

Over the last six months, the studio has convened community leaders, residents, local professionals, developers, investors, and various design organizations to discuss design for Dallas. Workshops and even brown bag lunches are held on a regular basis to engage as many people as possible to spark innovative methodologies and programs for the restoration of communities throughout Dallas.

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