For Immediate Release on September 15, 2011
Contact: Cassandra Stalzer, 907-334-0520

Rasmuson in collaboration to revitalize communities through arts

Anchorage -  In an unprecedented private-public collaboration, Rasmuson Foundation has joined 10 of America's top foundations, the National Endowment for the Arts and seven federal agencies to establish ArtPlace, a nationwide initiative to drive revitalization in communities with a new investment model that puts the arts at the center of economic development.

ArtPlace today announced its first round of grants, investing $11.5 million in 34 locally initiated projects in cities from Honolulu to Miami. Each project supported by ArtPlace was selected for developing a new model of helping communities thrive by strategically integrating artists and arts organizations into key local efforts in transportation, housing, community development, job creation and more.

Alaska organizations are eligible to submit Letters of Intent by November 15 for consideration in the next round of grantmaking.

"This collaboration gives Alaska organizations the opportunity to demonstrate the value of the cultural assets we have in our state before a panel of the most significant arts funders in the nation," said Program Officer Jayson Smart. "We believe that this partnership will leverage the Rasmuson Foundation investment for a much greater impact than we or any of the individual funders or arts organizations can have individually."

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, Rasmuson Foundation, The Robina Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation and an anonymous donor.  In addition to the NEA, federal partners are the departments of Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services, Agriculture, Education and Transportation, along with leadership from the White House Office of Management and Budget and the Domestic Policy Council. Federal partners do not provide funding to ArtPlace but participate in the ArtPlace Presidents' Council and Operating Committee meetings, ensuring alignment between high-priority federal investments and policy development and ArtPlace grants.

ArtPlace will also be supported by a $12 million loan fund capitalized by six major financial institutions and managed by the Nonprofit Finance Fund. Participating institutions are Bank of America, Chase, Citi, Deutsche Bank, MetLife and Morgan Stanley. 

In a shift from earlier approaches to economic development and the arts, ArtPlace neither treats the arts as an add-on nor expects development to follow on its own from stand-alone investments in cultural projects. Instead, ArtPlace supports projects in which cultural groups operate in concert with other community partners, private and public.  By leveraging the arts and culture with all of a community's other existing assets, ArtPlace aims to help communities achieve vibrant growth while doing more with less.

ArtPlace sees its role as providing venture capital, seeding entrepreneurial projects that already enjoy strong local buy-in, connect to a community's economic development strategy and have the potential to attract additional private and public support to the community. 

The approach being taken by ArtPlace, known as "creative placemaking," has emerged over the past twenty years as a promising way to increase the vitality of communities and help them grow. In 2011, the National Endowment for the Arts built on its two decades of work in creative placemaking by announcing the first grants in its new Our Town program, designed to support public-private partnerships to strengthen the arts while energizing the overall community. ArtPlace takes this movement a step further, as the first major public-private partnership to encourage creative placemaking 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 of the 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."

"Economic development historically has been about bagging the buffalo—competing for the big employer to move operations to your city," said Carol Coletta, President of ArtPlace.  "But now we know the economic development game is all about how you deploy local assets to develop, attract and keep talent.  So why would you not deploy every asset you have—including artists and the arts—to do that?  That's what ArtPlace is all about."

"ArtPlace represents a new paradigm," said Luis A. Ubiñas, President of The Ford Foundation and Chairman of the ArtPlace Presidents' Council. "It brings to the arts the kind of economic development thinking that has long been pursued for attracting and developing businesses, big and small, across the country. ArtPlace's integrated, interwoven approach has the potential to kick-start local economies and transform communities.  The arts can play a central role spurring local economic activity."


About the Foundation
The Rasmuson Foundation was created in May 1955 by Jenny Rasmuson to honor her late husband E.A. Rasmuson. The Foundation is a catalyst to promote a better life for all Alaskans.