Copy of Lexington to receive $100,000 NEA grant for interactive youth space at Town Branch Park

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- LexArts and Town Branch Fund announced today that a National Endowment for the Arts Our Town grant of $100,000 has been awarded to LexArts for a project called InterACT in Town Branch Park -- Arts, Culture & Technology.

Town Branch Fund is providing a matching $100,000, which brings the total project investment to $200,000.

InterACT in Town Branch Park will commission artists and designers to reinterpret the history and ecology of Town Branch through interactive artistic elements geared toward youth, making the park more accessible to all ages and elevating civic engagement in the space,
— said Allison Lankford, executive director of the Town Branch Fund.

InterACT will focus on five key areas:

  • Ensuring high quality original artistic design is integrated in the formal planning process;
  • Providing interactive elements to increase activation of the park;
  • Including park programming for youth ages 9-15, an underserved population;
  • Expanding education and curriculum development; and
  • Increasing civic engagement through creative placemaking.

LexArts President and CEO Nan Plummer stated, "Public art is an increasingly important way for Lexington to express its community identity and engage citizens of all ages. The NEA funding allows our partnership to integrate art into the development of Lexington's signature park from the beginning of its design."

Artists will be chosen through a request for qualifications and selection committee process with an emphasis on design that incorporates the history, culture or ecology of the space; interactivity with the user; and a focus on engaging older youth.

There will be two phases of community feedback. Phase One will obtain community feedback on the final artist pool through a public showcase of the commissioned proposals. That input will be given to the selection committee to assist with choosing the winning design.

Phase Two will test a prototype of the winning design with children. The Bluegrass Youth Sustainability Council will take the prototype into school classrooms to reach the true intended beneficiaries of the project. The chosen artist will be commissioned to develop a design that is "shovel ready" so that it can be funded and built when the park goes into construction.

The selected artist will be brought together with the programming consultants and the landscape architects to work together to formally integrate the proposed design into the final design, programming and engineering plans.

In addition, representatives from the school system will be engaged to discuss curriculum development that can be used to enhance the educational impact of the design.

Our Town is the National Endowment for the Arts' creative placemaking grants program. These grants support projects that integrate arts, culture and design activities into efforts that strengthen communities by advancing local economic, physical and/or social outcomes. Successful Our Town projects ultimately lay the groundwork for systemic changes that sustain the integration of arts, culture, and design into strategies for strengthening communities.