ArtPlace Grant for Swarm Street

For Immediate Release
September 15, 2011

Ronnetta Spalding

Cultural Trail’s ‘Swarm Street’ Project Selected as a
National Leader Through New ArtPlace Initiative

Receives $250,000 Investment from Widely Influential
Private-Public Collaboration to Revitalize America’s Cities and Towns

Indianapolis, IN – In an innovative development that is affecting Indianapolis as well as some two dozen other cities and towns across the nation, the Indianapolis Cultural Trail: A Legacy of Gene & Marilyn Glick has received a grant of $250,000 from an unprecedented new private-public collaboration, ArtPlace (www.artplaceamerica.org).

The grant will help support the trail’s largest public art installation – “Swarm Street,” an interactive light environment designed by Vito Acconci and Acconci Studio of New York (pronounced “Uh-KON-chee”). Currently being constructed inside the Virginia Avenue parking garage south of Maryland, “Swarm Street” is being designed to resemble fireflies as more than 1,000 LED-lights are embedded on the pavement with another 1,000 installed in an open steel-framework above. Additionally, movement from people on the trail will activate light sensors that “swarm” around the user as they move throughout the space.

“Swarm Street” also holds a special distinction as the only public art project being honored with a grant.

“The Indianapolis Cultural Trail offers better connectivity for pedestrians and cyclists and improved ease of access to our cultural institutions and cultural districts in the neighborhoods in and around downtown,” said Mayor Greg Ballard. “Public art installations are vital components of revitalizing neighborhoods and beautifying our city. The unique, innovative nature of this piece further makes the trail a destination of its own.”

“We are extremely grateful to ArtPlace for recognizing the Cultural Trail and this innovative art project,” said Brian Payne, President and CEO of Central Indiana Community Foundation (CICF) and the Cultural Trail’s co-lead partner with the City of Indianapolis. “Through ‘Swarm Street’ we are giving residents and visitors another way to move around our city with better visibility and less barriers. And, this piece of the trail provides a perfect connector from downtown Indianapolis to neighborhoods and businesses south of the downtown area that have been historically disconnected.”

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, The Rockefeller Foundation, Rasmuson Foundation, The Robina 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.

Announced for the first time on September 15, ArtPlace is an initiative of 11 of America’s top foundations working in conjunction with the National Endowment for the Arts and seven federal agencies. Its aim is to drive revitalization across the country by putting the arts at the center of economic development. ArtPlace has now 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 has been selected for developing a new model of helping towns and cities thrive by strategically integrating artists and arts organizations into key local efforts in transportation, housing, community development, job creation and more.

“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, 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.”

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.

“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.“

Concurrent with announcing its first round of grants, ArtPlace has initiated its second funding cycle. A Letter of Inquiry has been posted on www.artplaceamerica.org as of September 15, 2011. Submissions may be made through November 15.