Arts-based community development investment in Sherman
one of 60 selected nationwide
National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Chairman Jane Chu announced 60 awards totaling $4.1 million supporting projects across the nation through the NEA’s Our Town program. Austin College is one of the recommended organizations for a grant of $50,000 to support Focalpoint(!), a series of public photography workshops and participatory public art programs that celebrate the varied cultural traditions of Sherman residents.
“The variety and quality of these Our Town projects speaks to the wealth of creativity and diversity in our country,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “Through the work of organizations such as Austin College, NEA funding invests in local communities, helping people celebrate the arts wherever they are.”
Using photography workshops to build social engagement around the arts, the Focalpoint(!) project will invite Sherman residents to contribute to a databank of curated images of places, people, and culture. These images will populate temporary displays in downtown Sherman that are artist-designed and community-built.
Throughout the two-year project, Austin College will engage community partners including the City of Sherman, Sherman Independent School District and cultural groups in building a shared sense of place among residents. Focalpoint(!) activities will be launched in tandem with Sherman Arts Fest in September 2018.
Austin College president Steven P. O’Day, J.D., expressed appreciation for the NEA’s support. “Austin College is deeply invested in the arts, and this grant highlights the value of a community-based arts partnership,” he said. “The Focalpoint(!) project provides an outward opportunity to work collaboratively to strengthen both the Sherman community and Austin College.”
“The City of Sherman is so fortunate to have a fantastic liberal arts institution like Austin College located here, and projects like this are a great example of why,” said Sherman Mayor David Plyler. “The Focalpoint(!) project and the support of the Our Town Grant will provide our city with a phenomenal cultural resource that will help tie together the diverse communities of our growing, historic city.”
For a complete list of projects recommended for Our Town grant support, please visit the NEA web site.
Austin College, a private national liberal arts college located north of Dallas in Sherman, Texas, was founded in 1849 and is the oldest institution of higher education in Texas operating under original name and charter. Campus-directed arts programming includes the Sherman Symphony Orchestra, Community Series, Greater Texoma Orchestra and Texoma Jazz Ensemble, along with theatre productions, choral programs, student recitals and art exhibits.