For Immediate Release
Contact: Tim Halbur, ArtPlace, 415-948-1398

Chicago, IL – A sweeping initiative to promote Native Arts and connect artists with venues for showcasing and selling their art work will soon launch in Anchorage, thanks to a significant grant from ArtPlace announced today.

The “Meet Alaskaʼs First People” Initiative, a project of the Alaska Native Heritage Center (ANHC), will promote Native arts and culture as vital to the overall economic and social strength of the Municipality of Anchorage. ANHC will host small business workshops, connect artists with local art events, and commission art pieces for installation within Anchorage. An internet community will be built to connect artists and the local area, and a virtual tour will be created highlighting the Native arts of Anchorage.

The Alaska Native Heritage Center will receive a $295,000 grant from ArtPlace, a new national collaboration of 11 major national and regional foundations, six of the nation’s largest banks, and eight federal agencies, including the National Endowment for the Arts, to accelerate creative placemaking across the U.S. To date, ArtPlace has raised almost $50 million to work alongside federal and local governments to transform communities with strategic investments in the arts.

“Across the country, cities and towns are using the arts to help shape their social, physical, and economic characters,” said NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman. “The arts are a part of everyday life, and I am thrilled to see yet another example of an arts organization working with city, state, and federal offices to help strengthen and revitalize their communities through the arts. It is wonderful that ArtPlace and its funders have recognized this work and invested in it so generously.”

“We are honored to be one of the fifty organizations nationwide to receive this prestigious award,” said Annette Evans Smith, CEO of the Alaska Native Heritage Center. “The generous investment from ArtPlace will be used to expand the reach of the Alaska Native Heritage Center to embrace and reinforce Anchorage as the gateway to the strong, vibrant cultures of Alaska’s indigenous people.”

The Alaska Native Heritage Center is one of three Anchorage area organizations funded by ArtPlace in 2012 and among the 47 creative placemaking initiatives nationwide supported by the collaboration this year. The Anchorage Museum Association and Out North Contemporary Art House are also receiving ArtPlace support.

“Alaska is rich is creative resources,” said Diane Kaplan, president of Rasmuson Foundation. “We are excited that ArtPlace has selected this group of organizations for its second round of investments.”

The Anchorage Museum will use its grant to spark a conversation about how to leverage the distinctiveness of place in the Circumpolar North. The “Northern Initiative” will look at life and issues in the North, and examines ways those issues connect us to the Circumpolar North and the Globe through public artistic productions, exhibitions, performances, symposia, and research. It will focus on creating quality of place and positive changes in people and places. Out North will use the ArtPlace grant to create a collaborative, dynamic community space for a dozen artists-in-residence.

The small town of Sitka will also receive a $350,000 grant from ArtPlace to turn a closed college campus into an arts destination for the Southeast Alaska region.

Built in 1878, Sheldon Jackson College is a National Historic Landmark. The college closed in 2007, and was recently gifted to Alaska Arts Southeast to build on their long-running Sitka Fine Arts Camp. The revitalized site will offer diverse art programs year-round including an after school arts program, ceramics coop, community theater, visual arts gallery, several artist residencies and the Sitka Fine Arts Camp. Local officials see the Sitka Arts Campus as a valuable investment in the future of Sitka’s economy by providing jobs, improving the quality of life in Sitka, and attracting visitors to Sitka.

“These Alaska projects receiving ArtPlace funding exemplify the best in creative placemaking,” explained ArtPlace’s Carol Coletta. “They demonstrate a deep understanding of how smart investments in art, design and culture as part of a larger portfolio of revitalization strategies can change the trajectory of communities and increase economic opportunities for people.”

ArtPlace received almost 2200 letters of inquiry from organizations seeking a portion of the $15.4 million available for grants in this cycle. Inquiries came from 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, U.S. Virgin Islands.

In September, ArtPlace will release a new set of metrics to measure changes over time in the people, activity and real estate value in the communities where ArtPlace has invested with its grants.

Participating foundations include 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, The Rockefeller Foundation, Rasmuson Foundation, The Robina Foundation, The William Penn 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. ArtPlace is also 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, Citi, Deutsche Bank, Chase, MetLife and Morgan Stanley.

A complete list of this year’s ArtPlace awards can be found here.