• The Virginia Commission for the Arts Congratulates National Endowment for the Arts’ 2015 Our Town Grant Recipients

     Three Virginia grant recipients are among 69 Our Town projects selected nationwide

    Contacts:        Margaret Vanderhye: 804-225-3132
    Date:               July 17, 2015

    Richmond, Virginia-- National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Chairman Jane Chu announced 69 Our Town awards totaling almost $5 million through the Our Town program's fifth year of funding. Three of those 69 are being awarded in Virginia. The NEA received 275 applications for Our Town this year and will make grants ranging from $25,000 to $200,000.

    The Our Town grant program supports creative placemaking projects that help to transform communities into lively, beautiful, and resilient places with the arts at their core. Since the program’s inception in 2011 and including these projects, the NEA will have awarded 325 Our Town grants totaling almost $26 million in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia.

    City of Martinsville, Virginia with Primary Partner The Piedmont Arts Association will use their $25,000 grant to support the commissioning of public artworks for the Piedmont Public Art Garden to provide a creative space for residents. They envision the garden leading to a better and safer community environment.

    City of Norfolk with Primary Partner Downtown Norfolk Development Corporation are undertaking the project Art and Rising Tides to create environmental art and raise awareness about sea level rise. The $75,000 grant is intended to enliven the Downtown Arts and Design District and surrounding areas in Norfolk, the U.S. city most at risk after New Orleans from rising tides and flooding challenges.

    Elizabeth River Project with Primary Partner City of Portsmouth, Department of Museums will support the art installation of sculpture as part of a celebration of the 2016 Elizabeth RIVERFest. The $50,000 grant will support the creation and the installation of both permanent and temporary sculptures as part of the festival to celebrate and raise awareness of the beauty and environmental Importance of the Elizabeth River.

    "These three Virginia grant recipients demonstrate the best in creative community development and partnerships whose work will have a valuable impact on each community,” said Chairman Chu. "Through Our Town funding, arts organizations continue to spark vitality that support neighborhoods and public spaces, enhancing a sense of place for residents and visitors alike." 

    “We know that when people of vision – in local government and in cultural organizations – can come together and think creatively as partners about their communities, the residents and businesses all benefit” said Virginia Commission for the Arts Executive Director, Margaret Vanderhye. “We are all drawn to settings that inspire us and make us think a bit more creatively too” she added.

    Virginia - Our Town Awards
    City of Martinsville, Virginia Primary Partner: The Piedmont Arts Association
    Martinsville, VA
    To support the commissioning of public artwork for the Piedmont Public Art Garden to provide a creative space for residents. The project will select artists via RFP and will include the public in the design phase of one of the sculptures as well as the installation phase of a tile mosaic sculpture. The City of Martinsville, VA, and Piedmont Arts Association envision the garden leading to increase property values and reduced crime. The City of Martinsville, VA, has a median income of $41,000, and a population of 68,000.

    City of Norfolk Primary Partner: Downtown Norfolk Development Corporation
    Norfolk, VA
    To support Art and Rising Tides, a project for sea level rise and environmental art in the Norfolk, Virginia, Arts District. This project will complete detailed site plans and commission a public artist to work with architects, urban planners, and community partners to develop and implement ideas for the Downtown Arts and Design District. Project partners include Norfolk Bureau of Cultural Affairs and the Downtown Norfolk Development Corporation, as well as Norfolk's Redevelopment and Housing Authority, Naval Station Norfolk, and the Better Block program. The project's theme of sea level rise responds to Norfolk's position as the U.S. city most at risk from rising tides and flooding challenges, aside from New Orleans.

    Elizabeth River Project Primary Partner: City of Portsmouth, Department of Museums
    Portsmouth, VA
    To support an art installation celebrating the Elizabeth River. Scottish artist Rob Mulholland will complete a major sculpture installation as part of the 2016 Elizabeth RIVERFest, an environmental festival created to inspire the region to see the river in new ways, appreciate its ecology, and engage in its stewardship. Mulholland will create up to ten permanent outdoor sculptures and ten temporary sculptures. The temporary sculptures, designed with the assistance of at-risk youth from the community, will be used as guides leading festival goers across the Jordan Bridge, the region's highest bridge, to the permanent sculptures installed in Paradise Creek Nature Park. The project is a partnership of the Elizabeth River Project, a local non-profit focused on cleaning up the polluted river, and the Portsmouth Art & Cultural Center, with support from numerous regional arts and municipal partners. The Elizabeth River watershed includes the 500,000 residents who live in Norfolk, Portsmouth, Chesapeake, and Virginia Beach.


     For a complete listing of projects recommended for Our Town grant support, please visit the NEA web site at arts.gov. Project descriptions, grants listed by state and by project type, and resources are available as well. The NEA’s online resource, Exploring Our Town, features case studies of more than 70 Our Town projects along with lessons learned and other resources.

    The Twitter hashtag is #NEAOurTown15


    The Virginia Commission for the Arts is the state agency that supports the arts through funding from the Virginia General Assembly and the National Endowment for the Arts. The Commission distributes grants to arts and other non-for-profit arts organizations, educational institutions, educators, artists, and local governments.

    Media Contact
    Margaret G. Vanderhye
    Executive Director
    Virginia Commission for the Arts
    1001 East Broad Street, Suite 330
    Richmond, Virginia 23219

  • First-ever Virginia Shakespeare Initiative (VSI) Launches with Partner Meeting

    21 Organizations from across the Commonwealth joined in Richmond to collaboratively plan the Virginia Shakespeare Initiative

    For Immediate Release: June 24, 2015
    Contact: Katie Lebert
    Virginia Shakespeare Initiative
    Phone: (434) 924-3296

    Charlottesville, VA – A planning committee composed of representatives from the American Shakespeare Center, Virginia Commission for the Arts, Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, and Washington and Lee University has officially launched a partnership with more than twenty Virginia organizations to coordinate a statewide commemoration of the upcoming 400th Anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, April 23, 2016.

    On June 18, 2015 the planning committee and partner organization representatives met at the Library of Virginia in Richmond to share plans for Shakespeare-related programming during the initiative, which will run from August 2015 through December 2016. The lively discussion yielded ideas for collaborative projects and innovative opportunities to engage Virginians in a celebration of the genius and impact of Shakespeare, such as:

    • A writing competition for works inspired by Shakespeare
    • A series of classes about the Elizabethan era with topics on costuming, beer making, dancing, and cooking
    • Performance competitions aimed at the middle and high school ages
    • The encouragement of gardening projects inspired by references to flora in Shakespeare
    • A day devoted to Elizabethan culture in Colonial Williamsburg
    • Public readings across the Commonwealth on Shakespeare’s death date of April 23

    At this time, VSI is collecting information about Shakespeare-related programming events occurring in Virginia during the initiative period. These events will be broadly promoted so as to thoroughly engage Virginia in celebration of this anniversary. The planning committee encourages the submission of planned events and subscription to the VSI newsletter at VirginiaHumanities.org/Shakespeare.

    The forthcoming VSI website will include a calendar for all events related to Shakespeare and a blog on the connections to and interpretations of Shakespeare across Virginia. The launch date for VAShakespeare.org is planned for early August. In addition, all are encouraged to join the initiative on Facebook and to invite Shakespeare into their conversation with #VAShakespeare.

    As the meeting closed, many partners voiced excitement for the months ahead, and for the collaboration on an initiative that could inspire lasting events and education long after its planned closure in December 2016.

    In agreement, VSI planning committee member Hank Dobin concluded, “Virginia is the Shakespeare state. We have the opportunity and responsibility to not only celebrate the historical connections Virginia has to the Bard, but to deepen existing traditions, inspire new engagements, and cultivate enduring attitudes.”

    Virginia Shakespeare Initiative (VSI) Partner Organizations:
    Colonial Williamsburg
    Executive Mansion
    Library of Virginia
    Piedmont Council for the Arts
    Quill Theater
    State Council of Higher Education for Virginia
    Virginians for the Arts
    Virginia Association of Independent Schools
    Virginia Association of Museums
    Virginia Center for the Book
    Virginia Community College System
    Virginia Council for Private Education
    Virginia Department of Education
    Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges
    Virginia Library Association
    Virginia Office of the Secretary of Education
    Virginia Theatre Association
    Virginia Tourism Corporation
    Westminster School

    Virginia Shakespeare Initiative (VSI) Planning Committee:
    American Shakespeare Center
    Virginia Commission for the Arts
    Virginia Foundation for the Humanities
    Washington and Lee University

  • Performing Artists Touring Roster Application Deadline July 15, 2015

    RICHMOND, VIRGINIA:  The deadline for individuals and groups to apply for inclusion in the 2016-2017 Virginia Commission for the Arts’ Performing Arts Tour Directory is 5:00 p.m., July 15, 2015.  Applications and all supporting materials must be received at the Virginia Commission for the Arts office at 1001 East Broad Street, Suite 330, Richmond, VA 23219 by the deadline (this is not a postmark date).  For more information about the tour program and to download an application, visit www.arts.virginia.gov or call the Commission at (804) 225-3132.

    Virginia Commission for the Arts’ Performing Arts Touring Directory is intended to support Virginia performing artists and ensembles as well as increase opportunities for Virginians to experience high quality performing arts events statewide.  Performing artists and ensembles apply to be listed in the Tour Directory with a set amount of funding reserved to support their touring; grants are made to the presenter, not the touring artist(s). Individuals and groups on the roster are excellent and experienced performers available to communities, schools and other venues.

    The Commission's Performing Artist directory can be found at http://www.arts.virginia.gov/PATD.html

    The directory lists individuals and groups who work in a number of disciplines, including dance, music, interdisciplinary arts, storytelling, opera and theatre. To be in the directory, performing artists are reviewed by a panel of arts professionals in a rigorous review process that evaluates the artistic quality of their presentation, experience in touring, and ability to market and promote performances.

    The panel, which consists of arts professionals, performing artists, performing arts presenters and knowledgeable laypersons in the performing arts, will review applications on September 9, 2015 at The Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen, 2880 Mountain Road, Glen Allen, Virginia 23060.  Panel recommendations will be presented to the Commissioners at the fall board meeting for final approval. Applicants will be notified of their status after the review and approval process are completed.


    The Virginia Commission for the Arts is the state agency that supports the arts through funding from the Virginia General Assembly and the National Endowment for the Arts. The Commission distributes grants to arts and other non-for-profit arts organizations, educational institutions, educators, artists, and local governments.

    Media Contact
    Margaret G. Vanderhye
    Executive Director
    Virginia Commission for the Arts
    1001 East Broad Street, Suite 330
    Richmond, Virginia 23219

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