The Eastside Promise Zone will continue to receive new public investment even after several area federal grants end in 2016, thanks to a $100,000 Our Town grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, City officials said Wednesday.
The grant will fund a new artist residency program for the Department of Culture & Creative Development (DCCD), which will be used for creative and community-driven projects within the Promise Zone, said visiting NEA Chairman Jane Chu.
The Our Town grant has become a catalyst for new funds to improve the overall quality of life on the Eastside. The Promise Zone has since received an additional $200,000 from the SAHA CHOICE Neighborhood program, $100,000 from the tax increment reinvestment zone (TIRZ) and City funds that match the $100,000 grant.
“We are seeing that the arts are a part of people’s everyday lives,” Chu said. “They can bring meaning to an individual, they can express themselves, and they can also be places where people come together as the result of an arts project.”
Chu’s visit comes a day after the release of NEA FY 2016 grants, which awarded Our Town grants of $25,000 to $200,000 to art-based placemaking projects throughout the country.
DCCD Director Felix Padrón thanked Chairman Chu for selecting San Antonio from this year’s 275 grant applicants.
“It’s an exciting time,” Padrón said. “It’s has brought together all these partners who really think alike to say, ‘Yeah, we’re going to introduce housing and education, but we also need to integrate the arts.'”
Several arts and City officials, including Maria López de León, executive director, The National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures (NALAC), accompanied Chu on a day-long cultural tour of local art organizations that included stops at the Eastside Promise Zone sites, San Antonio Museum of Art, San Anto Cultural Arts and MujerARTES before culminating with a special Town Hall meeting at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.
López de León worked with DCCD officials to arrange the cultural tours at art organizations throughout San Antonio.
“It’s important to see the impact that the arts are having on the revitalization and that they continue to have,” López de León said of the Chairman’s San Antonio visit. “Overall, I wanted her to get a little taste of San Antonio’s museums and art on the Westside and the Eastside Promise Zone.”
San Antonio’s Promise Zone has received $51 million since 2011, including the $100,000 awarded by the NEA, as part of the continued effort to improve the economic and educational opportunities found on the Eastside.
“The arts are a huge part of the revitalization taking place in the Promise Zone,” said Mike Etienne, Director of EastPoint Office. “This will be part of the continued effort to improve the opportunities happening in San Antonio. The City is expected to accept and adopt the grant during Council session on Thursday.”
DCCD officials said expects to finalize and share more program details with the public in 2016.
“What that will entail is not clear yet, but we are very excited,” Padrón added.
Click here to learn more about the National Endowment of the Arts.
*Top image: City officials, NEA representatives, and community members pose for a group photo on the steps of the Carver Community Cultural Center. Photo by Scott Ball.