New Federal Funding Initiative Encourages Partnerships with the Arts

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has announced a new federal funding initiative, the Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant Program. This initiative is designed to support regional planning efforts to create strong, sustainable and livable communities. A new collaboration between HUD, the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the program will award $98 million in competitive grants to support the development of regional sustainability plans. Urban and rural planning consortia are eligible to apply.

This program will place a priority on partnerships that include the arts. The notice of funding availability explicitly encourages partnerships with arts, culture and recreation organizations, both governmental and nongovernmental. (Overview, G.1.) The arts are noted as an important component of regional plans for economic development. (III.E.2.F)
 
The National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA) has been in dialogue with HUD about this program–and other potential intersections between the arts and HUD’s goals. NASAA strongly encourage state arts agencies and local arts organizations to contact their state and local government planning entities to partner in the application process for these grants. This is HUD’s first major initiative that explicitly includes arts organizations. HUD also has consulted with the National Endowment for the Arts, which will be promoting this program to the arts community, too.
 
To make the most of this opportunity you can:
Initiate contact with regional planning organizations in your state. These may include Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) or area Regional Councils or sustainability networks. Your HUD field office may be able to provide additional guidance on who leads regional planning efforts or is likely to apply for these funds, as might your state departments of housing, community development, transportation or the environment.
 
Let regional planning organizations know that inclusion of the arts can be an advantage when applying for these new HUD funds. Encourage them to include the arts in their planning teams, public outreach events and overall development strategies. Even if they do not intend to apply for HUD funds, collaboration with the arts sector can increase their overall success.
 
Local arts councils, cultural district coordinators, creative economy networks, and groups developing artist spaces or cultural facilities are especially likely partners.
This is a great chance to help the arts gain “a seat at the table,” but the timeline is short. Applications are due August 28 and the preparatory requirements are extensive. If you are interested, you are encouraged to act on this opportunity as soon as possible.
 
For additional information, please contact Randy Shoults, Community Arts Program Manager, Alabama State Council on the Arts 334-242-4076, ext 224, or Barbara Edwards, Deputy Director, 334-242-4076, ext 227. 

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