Hennepin Theatre Trust Receives $200,000 Our Town Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
“Setting the Stage: Planning the Hennepin Avenue Cultural Corridor on Downtown Minneapolis’ Oldest Street” is among 51 grants nationwide selected to support creative placemaking
MINNEAPOLIS—Hennepin Theatre Trust announced today that it will receive a $200,000 Our Town grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), one of only 51 grants awarded nationwide. The Trust will use the grant to begin the planning process to re-invent Hennepin Avenue as an arts-inspired cultural corridor stretching from the Walker Art Center and Minneapolis Sculpture Garden to the Mississippi Riverfront.
Our Town is the NEA’s latest investment in creative placemaking, through which partners from both public and private sectors come together to strategically shape the social, physical, and economic character of a neighborhood, town, city, or region around arts and cultural activities.
“Our selection as a recipient of the Our Town grant is a huge endorsement of our mission by the NEA,” said Tom Hoch, Hennepin Theatre Trust President/CEO. “This grant supports our dedication to fostering arts-inspired community development centered on Hennepin Avenue. We are extremely excited to work with the Walker Art Center, Artspace Projects, the City of Minneapolis and the broader community to set the stage for an even more vibrant cultural future for Downtown Minneapolis and the many arts organizations and individuals residing here.”
The Our Town grants also involve a partnership with the local government to encourage creative, cross sector solutions to the challenges facing towns, cities and the arts community and the City of Minneapolis has approved a $50,000 Great Streets grant as part of the local match. Hennepin Theatre Trust will lead the planning process, working with Walker Art Center and Artspace to involve and engage arts, business, philanthropy, education, religious and public sectors in a re-invention of Minneapolis’ oldest street, Hennepin Avenue, as a nationally acclaimed year-round cultural destination.
“There is both potential and momentum to develop the Hennepin Avenue corridor into a vital green arts district from the Walker to the River. We are thrilled to have the NEA’s support to continue to advance our collaborative planning efforts with the city of Minneapolis, so that our aspirations can become a reality,” commented Olga Viso, Walker Art Center Executive Director.
The “Hennepin Avenue Cultural Corridor” will physically and programmatically connect the Mississippi Riverfront, new Cesar Pelli-designed Minneapolis Public Library, restored Cowles Center for Performing Arts, historic State, Orpheum and Pantages Theatres and the Herzog and de Meuron-designed Walker Art Center and Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.
This effort will result in a plan to convert vacant and underdeveloped public and private spaces along the Avenue to uses that inspire an arts-centered community cultural experience and cross-programming among affected entities while fostering economic vitality. This effort is supported by the business community’s Downtown 2025 Plan currently in development.
National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Rocco Landesman said, “Communities across our country are using smart design and leveraging the arts to enhance quality of life and promote their distinctive identities. In this time of great economic upheaval, Our Town provides communities an opportunity to reignite their economies.”
“I strongly support this initiative, because a Hennepin Avenue that thrives year-round is important to everyone who lives, works and plays in Minneapolis,” said Mayor R.T. Rybak. “When Hennepin directly connects our vital riverfront to our cultural heart, downtown Minneapolis will become an even stronger economic engine and cultural destination for our entire region and state.”
Hennepin Avenue is the major vehicle thoroughfare through Downtown Minneapolis. Sporadic development activity over the past several years has improved the overall feel and activity level of the street and property owners have made a serious commitment to funding the Downtown Improvement District in order to provide a cleaner, greener and safer urban environment. Additionally, property owners between Fifth and Tenth Streets have funded significant streetscape improvements to better enhance the physical appearance of the Avenue, especially for pedestrians. Funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and collaboration between Hennepin Theatre Trust, Walker Art Center, Artspace and City of Minneapolis will allow lead organizations to design strategies to gather input, develop and present future plans and obtain support from involved parties.
Hennepin Theatre Trust, owner of the State, Orpheum, Pantages and New Century Theatres, is an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to arts-inspired community cultural development. We achieve our mission by presenting a rich mix of live performances, creating inspiring arts education experiences and advancing a thriving Hennepin Avenue Cultural Corridor in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Trust’s activities include Broadway touring productions and the related Broadway Confidential series, concerts, comedy, speakers and other variety entertainment plus educational initiatives including the SpotLight Musical Theatre Program for high schools, Critical View student reviewer program, Teen Ushers, the Access Program and Kids’ Night.
The National Endowment for the Arts was established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government. To date, the NEA has awarded more than $4 billion to support artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities. The NEA extends its work through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector.