RAHWAY — The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) awarded $75,000 to fund RAHWAY ARTsPART — an 18-month initiative to plant innovative programming that fosters community interaction as the guiding principle of Union County Performing Arts Center and its new Hamilton Stage, the City of Rahway’s Redevelopment Agency, Arts Guild New Jersey, LuceGroup, Rahway Arts District, and a wide array of artistic and community partners.
The funding is one of 80 Our Town grant awards announced Thursday totaling $4.995 million and reaching 44 states and the District of Columbia. Through Our Town, the NEA supports creative placemaking projects that help transform communities into lively, beautiful, and sustainable places with the arts at their core. The grantee projects will improve quality of life, encourage creative activity, create community identity and a sense of place, and help revitalize local economies. All Our Town grant awards were made to partnerships that consisted of a minimum of a not-for-profit organization and a local government entity.
RAHWAY ARTsPART is designed to harness the opening of Hamilton Stage and the arrival in Rahway of seven performing arts companies to 1) provide innovative, exceptional artistic programming that reflects the community; 2) engage people of all ages, ethnicities, and abilities in the arts; 3) encourage direct participation in the arts; 4) teach students to make and appreciate the arts and share their talents with the community; 5) help grow artists, art organizations, and affiliate companies by helping them find paying customers and additional work, and; 6) further establish Rahway as a vibrant arts destination.
Highlights of the RAHWAY ARTsPART include one or more major outdoor arts festivals along Rahway’s new Arts Riverwalk; international convenings in the field of dance and beatbox; a variety of high-end performances and social arts activities in non-traditional community settings like restaurants, rooftops, civic facilities, and one of New Jersey’s busiest train stations; and a variety of visual arts programs around the city provided by Arts Guild New Jersey.
The Rahway School District is a principal partner and will collaborate on cross-cultural, semester-long artist teacher residencies in every Rahway public school, resulting in a showcase of the work of student artists for the community and the establishment of an inter-school jazz band that performs with professional artists for students and the public.
“Cities and towns are transformed when you bring the arts – both literally and figuratively – into the center of them,” said NEA Chairman Landesman. “From Teller, Alaska to Miami, Florida, communities are pursuing creative placemaking, making their neighborhoods more vibrant and robust by investing in the performing, visual, and literary arts. I am proud to be partnering with these 80 communities and their respective arts, civic, and elected leaders.”
“The NEA received 317 applications for Our Town that were assigned to one of three application review panels based on their project type; arts engagement, cultural planning and design, or non-metro and tribal communities. With only 80 grants emerging from the 317 applications, or a success rate of 25 percent, competition was strong, a testament to the artistic excellence and merit of RAHWAY ARTsPART.”
“We are deeply gratified that our long-term drive to transform Rahway through investment in the arts, culture, and creativity has now gained sufficient traction to garner national attention and support,” said UC PAC Executive Director Samson Steinman. “With the opening of our new Hamilton Stage just two months away, the timing could not be better. Not only will this grant help us continue to build a more vibrant community and engage more artists, it will also assure we can provide high-quality artistic programs in every Rahway Public School and at Rahway’s JFK Center.”
Planning and facilitation of the UC PAC/Hamilton Stage Our Town initiative has been provided by Front of House Services of Madison, New Jersey, Richard T. Bryant, president.
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