Arts Center wins national grant to take film festival beyond screens

A national grant will enable the Lawrence Arts Center to take its next Free State Film Festival beyond the Arts Center walls, and even beyond film.

The Arts Center received a $150,000 Our Town grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, expected to be formally announced today.

Susan Tate, Arts Center executive director, said plans call for expanding the 2014 and 2015 film festivals to include public art and digital media education for youths from Van Go Inc. and Boys and Girls Club of Lawrence. The effort is called the Free State Cultural Connection Project.

“We want people outside,” Tate said. “We want people walking, we want people talking about art.”

Our Town grants were developed to fund “creative placemaking projects that contribute to the livability of communities and place the arts at their core,” according to the endowment’s description. The Arts Center received one of 59 grants bestowed this year nationwide, with awards ranging from $25,000 to $200,000.

The concept of creative placemaking seeks to wield art to make communities vibrant, exciting and enticing for visitors and new investment.

Film and digital arts are great ways to do just that, Tate said, because they’re democratic — easily accessible and approachable for everyone.

Outreach is a key part of the film festival plan.

Digital media classes for youth will begin in January, and outdoor public displays of films, performances and digital arts are envisioned along Ninth Street, within the city’s designated Cultural District, Tate said. The project will culminate in a multiday film and music festival scheduled for June 25-29 next year.

Van Go Inc. executive director Lynne Green said the grant would allow her organization to reboot a digital arts lab that was canceled because of lack of funding. The lab and its teacher used to train at-risk 18- to 21-year-olds in graphic design, video editing and skills such as resume building.

“This will allow us to reinstate our digital arts lab, at least as long as the grant is in effect,” Green said. “So we’re really thrilled to be able to put some of this programming back into place.”

The Arts Center made an unsuccessful bid for an Our Town grant in 2010. This year, two other bids for creative placemaking funding fell short: applications for a national ArtPlace grant and a Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission grant for cultural planning.

Tate said the endowment’s commitment to creative placemaking complements investments Lawrence has made in art, neighborhoods and culture. She said the Our Town grant would enhance Lawrence’s sense of place.

“This project is based in community, will largely take place outdoors, and celebrates film and digital art as public and shared experiences,” Tate said. “Our film and digital media project will increase access to technology, expand ideas of where to show digital work, encourage local artists to create digital art and film for the festival, and bring in artists from around the country.”


Paul Wilson 9 years, 6 months ago

I am officially done with the Journal World and their Google experiment. Bye!

NewKansan 9 years, 6 months ago

Don't let the door hit ya. The outrage of answering a question or two to access free content.

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