Arts and Humanities Local News

New Albany Plans to Apply For Cultural District Designation of It's Downtown

Elizabeth Kramer

New Albany has been featuring more arts and culture in its downtown in recent years, and now it’s looking to have that area become a state-designated cultural district. The city officially indicated this week that it will apply next month to the Indiana Arts Commission to receive the designation.

City plan commission assistant director Scott Wood says the downtown already has many features and events that can help it in its application.

“New Albany’s bicentennial is in 2013 and we’ve already begun incorporating public art as part of the celebration of our bicentennial,” he says. “Downtown is also listed in the National Register of Historic Places; there’s some great architecture.”

The idea of state-designated cultural districts has been gaining ground since Maryland was the first state to start such a program in 2001. Kentucky is working on a pilot program and Indiana launched its program last year. Their features vary. Some programs provide tax incentives to businesses and nonprofits within districts. Others, like Indiana’s, provide tourism marketing support.

Wood says he thinks New Albany could use that kind of support.

“New Albany has an impressive mass of cultural facilities in its historic downtown that we thought really deserved to be considered for statewide cultural district certification,” he says. “That certification would be yet another tool in our toolbox that would help tourism downtown, the Carnegie Center for Art and History and many of the other facilities we have downtown as well as our private businesses.”

Cities with areas accepted into Indiana’s Cultural District Program do not receive funding at this time, but some policy makers think that could change if the economy improves.

New Albany is the only southern Indiana city this year to officially indicate its interest in being part of the state’s Cultural Districts Program. Earlier this year, the districts in Bloomington, Carmel and Lafayette received official state recognition.

PHOTOS: The New Albany Riverfront Amphitheater (top); Flood, a large-scale video projection onto the YMCA building of the Ohio River water by Valerie Sullivan Fuchs and part of the The New Albany Bicentennial Public Art Project (bottom).

Arts and Humanities Local News

City Plans to Apply for New Federal Art-Related Grant

Louisville plans to apply for a new funding program from the National Endowment for the Arts. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer reports.

Last week, NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman announced the agency will award a limited number of grants for up to $250,000 to cities for arts-related projects, including planning arts districts, promoting artists and using art to enhance parks and neighborhoods.

Landesman unveiled the grant program, which will come through the agency’s Mayors’ Institute on City Design, during the US Conference of Mayors’ recent meeting.

Louisville Metro government will pursue a grant, says Mayor Jerry Abramson’s spokesman, Chris Poynter.

“Louisville is definitely going to be looking at applying for these and determine what we need to be funded,” he says. “So, we have lots of things on the table that potentially could be good for this money.”

Poynter says the city could apply for funds related to the Louisville Loop, a trail planned to encircle the city and be part of the city’s parks.

“One of the key components of that that we think is important is when we design the Louisville Loop, we’re going to need bridges,” Poynter says. “And those bridges should just not be normal, standard bridges; they should be works of art that are done by local artists. We want art on the loop.”

Poynter also says the funds could be applied to the city’s public-art project that is being unveiled next month. Mayor Jerry Abramson announced in 2008 that the city was spending $50,000 to develop the plan.

Poynter says the city had originally wanted to unveil the plan last fall.

“It took us a little bit longer than we’d expected because we wanted to identify a funding stream — a way to physically fund public art in this city,” he says. “But we didn’t want to institute new fees or new taxes.”

Poynter says the city will identify that funding stream next month.