Maybe it’s the (albeit late) onset of Spring that lifts Alaska’s spirits and creative energies, but it certainly has brought several chances to celebrate the arts in Alaska – and the artists who make it. Last week Rasmuson Foundation announced its tenth cohort of Individual Artist Award recipients. If you didn’t get a chance to attend the event, you can watch a recording of it here. And trust me on this: watching Juneau film maker Patrick Race’s mini-documentary on the 2013 Distinguished Artist Teri Rofkar is a great way to spend 7 minutes today.
While more than $2.3 million has been placed directly into the hands of Alaska’s artists during the past decade, the benefits extend beyond the dollars. What we often hear from our artist grantees is that the Foundation’s work to elevate awareness of the importance of art to our state and in our communities also has great value.
Because the value of the arts can be calculated in both creative and real economic terms, Rasmuson Foundation became a partner in ArtPlace, a nationwide initiative to drive revitalization in communities with a new investment model that puts the arts at the center of economic development. Today, ArtPlace announced more than $1 million in project grants will be making their way to Alaska. The Anchorage Park Foundation (Anchorage), Perseverance Theater (Juneau), Bunnell Street Arts Center (Homer) and Sealaska Heritage Institute (Juneau) will each undertake projects to use art to activate public spaces, bring new life to rural communities and create anchors for communities through cultural institutions.
Maintaining their artistic focus on the subject of light and dark, themes of special interest to Northern dwellers, the Light Brigade, with the support of the Anchorage Park Foundation will plan, execute and document a series of site specific urban art interventions that will activate public spaces throughout the community followed by a pilot project to foster an upsurge in creative placemaking among Anchorage artists.
Perseverance Theatre will develop a summer theatre festival with the potential to reach visitors and locals with a rich mix of full productions, new play development and works in process, and training opportunities that provide authentic experiences in Juneau to encourage cultural tourism.
Bunnell Street Arts Center’s Old Town Artists Residency program will galvanize the community around Homer’s Old Town neighborhood through the creation and presentation of new work by artists in residence that activates the arts center’s space and surrounding outdoor sites including the Old Town People’s Garden Greenway.
Sealaska Heritage Institute will advance The Walter Soboleff Center, a 29,000 square foot cultural arts center in the center of downtown Juneau– in close proximity to the shops and restaurants frequented by residents, the legislature, and hundreds of thousands of tourists whose cruise ships dock at the wharf each summer. Through its design and programming the Center will establish Juneau as an important destination for authentic Alaskan Native art experiences.
This is the third round of grants made by ArtPlace. Read a summary of their 2012 Alaska grants here.