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Yolo gets grant support for Art & Agriculture Project

Artist Harriett Blodgett paints at the Slaven Ranch in Zamora as part of Yolo Arts' Art & Agriculture Project. Courtesy photo

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From page A11 | September 20, 2011 |

YoloArts is among two dozen communities across the nation that have been recognized as leaders in weaving the arts into economic development.

This recognition is in the form of a $63,000 grant from ArtPlace, a new public-private collaboration formed to accelerate creative placemaking across the United States.

YoloArts received the recognition for its Art & Agriculture Project, a program offering artists a venue at which to create as they visit selected farms and make art in their respective mediums.

Farmers are given the opportunity to make the work they do more visible through farm tours to artists and through the resulting artwork created, and the community is offered a thoughtful and heartfelt glimpse into the two diverse worlds of art and agriculture.

The project culminates in an art farm exhibit and art harvest, planned for October. More information can be found at www.yoloarts.org, or by calling (530) 406-4844.

“This project will help us celebrate and support artists, farmers and the rich agricultural heritage of the communities in Yolo County,” said YoloArts board president MaryEllen Foley Bergh.

“Agriculture is a leading economic force in Yolo County, and the Art and Agriculture Project is unique in how it combines art with ag,” said Matt Rexroad, chairman of the Yolo County Board of Supervisors. “I am pleased any time Yolo County receives national recognition, and particularly for an economic development initiative.”

The ArtPlace initiative (www.artplaceamerica.org) is led by 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 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 communities thrive by strategically integrating artists and arts organizations into key local efforts in transportation, housing, community development, job creation and more.

“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.“

The approach being taken by ArtPlace, known as “creative placemaking,” has emerged over the past 20 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.

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