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POLIS CENTER OFFICIAL WINS PLACEMAKING AWARD TO GALVANIZE BLIGHTED INDIANAPOLIS COMMUNITY AND IMPROVE PUBLIC SAFETY

Lashawnda Crowe Storm, Spirit & Place Community Engagement Director for the Polis Center at IUPUI,

Lashawnda Crowe Storm, Spirit & Place Community Engagement Director for the Polis Center at IUPUI

Lashawnda Crowe Storm, Spirit & Place Community Engagement Director for the Polis Center at IUPUI, and Phyllis Viola Boyd are the award-winners of a three-year, $200,000 grant from Artplace’s National Creative Placemaking Fund to support their public safety and neighborhood improvement project, RECLAIM.

RECLAIM will use art to develop vacant spaces along an unsafe, walking corridor traveled by elementary school children in northwest Indianapolis into a safe pathway where blight is transformed into beauty and economic opportunity. The project will include a series of hands-on design, business, and community development workshops, and mentorship. The intent is to build community capacity to increase economic opportunity for individuals and, as a result, increase growth and stability for the community. Spirit & Place will partner with Storm and Boyd around some of the capacity building activities. Spirit & Place is a collaborative community project established in 1996 by The Polis Center, a unit of the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI, which honors the role the arts, humanities, and religion play in shaping individual and community life.

“In the 1970s, a highway was installed in the Northwest Area (I-65 near 38th / Dr. Martin Luther King Street) and over time, funding for public works decreased,” said Storm. “This left the community fragmented and in dire need of infrastructure improvements and maintenance of vacant city-owned properties, of which there are hundreds in this community. We plan to work with current and returning residents on this project to improve the vacant lots and houses with art, thereby increasing safety. Several area residents were formerly incarcerated, so the project will also support the reintegration of ex-offenders and create innovative pathways to new economic opportunities.“

RECLAIM, the only project in Indiana funded by ArtPlace, is one of 29 across 19 states and two US territories receiving a total of $11 million in funding, further positioning arts and culture as a core sector of comprehensive community planning development.  Nearly 1,400 applicants vied for the highly competitive national funding program that invests money in communities across the country in which artists, arts organizations, and arts and culture activity help drive community development change across 10 sectors of community planning and development: agriculture and food, economic development, education and youth, environment and energy, health, housing, immigration, public safety, transportation, and workforce development.  For more information on RECLAIM, visit http://www.housepoem.com/.

Launched in 2011, ArtPlace America is a public-private partnership that supports creative placemaking projects designed to revitalize urban and rural communities, help communities imagine new futures, activate public spaces, create community-based anchor institutions, provide artists with housing and workspace, stretch established cultural institutions, and strengthen local economies. To date, the National Creative Placemaking Fund has supported 256 creative placemaking projects in 187 communities of all sizes, totaling $77.7 million worth of investments across 45 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands.

 


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