The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) announced 80 Our Town grant awards totaling $4.995 million and reaching 44 states and the District of Columbia. Oddfellows Playhouse is one of the grantees and will receive $50,000 for the Design of a New Facility
Through Our Town funding, the NEA’s ambition is to support the idea of creative placemaking and projects that help radically transform communities. In creative placemaking, partners from the private, public, nonprofits, and community groups work together to fundamentally reshape a community—physically, socially, and culturally around the arts. The grantee projects will improve quality of life, encourage creative activity, create community identity and a sense of place, and help revitalize local economies.
Creative placemaking is an investment into the future successes of towns and cities in the United States. This transformation will improve the quality of life for all citizens by revitalizing the local economy through job creation, increasing the livability of city or town, fostering private and public collaboration, reshaping the local landscape, and promoting the arts.
Oddfellows’ grant was requested for the design of a cultural facility, which is the first phase of a long-term project to purchase, renovate, and move the Playhouse to a new, larger facility in downtown Middletown. As a strategy of creative placemaking, Oddfellows is designing a facility that will re-use a building that has been vacant and will be working with Northeast Collaborative Architects on this endeavor. The design, and ultimately the renovation and the launch of programming after relocation, will not only strengthen the artistic excellence of Middletown, but also by the need to improve the quality of life for all citizens through job creation and social change
All Our Town grant awards were made to partnerships that consisted of a minimum of a not-for-profit organization and a local government entity. “Oddfellows is a key institution in CT that provides young people with a dynamic learning experience in the arts. Middletown will continue to support Oddfellows as intensively as we can,” said Mayor Dan Drew.
Oddfellows does not merely want to exist as an entity independent of all others in Middletown; rather, the design of the new building will directly relate to broader community needs. Partnerships will be made with the adjacent restaurants, shops, and companies. In turn, the increased traffic, stemming from more classes, programs, and mainstage productions, will impact the local businesses and stimulate the local economy. The design will includes two, fully functioning theaters to allow for revolving productions from Oddfellows and other arts groups. We will look to form strategic partnerships with arts organizations in town and regionally to create a constancy of opportunity and vibrancy in the community.
"Cities and towns are transformed when you bring the arts – both literally and figuratively – into the center of them,” said NEA Chairman Landesman. "From Teller, Alaska to Miami, Florida, communities are pursuing creative placemaking, making their neighborhoods more vibrant and robust by investing in the performing, visual, and literary arts. I am proud to be partnering with these 80 communities and their respective arts, civic, and elected leaders."
“Oddfellows is honored to be recognized by the National Endowment for the Arts as a recipient of the Our Town grant. We have a lot of work ahead of us, but this is a great step towards the successful completion of this endeavor. We look forward to working with the arts organizations and artists that call Middletown home to build a stronger community. This grant is not only for Oddfellows. It is for all of Middletown,” said Executive Director Matthew Pugliese.
Pugliese continued, “The NEA received 317 applications for Our Town that were assigned to one of three application review panels based on their project type- arts engagement, cultural planning and design, or non-metro and tribal communities. With only 80 grants emerging from the 317 applications, or a success rate of 25 percent, competition was strong. We are very appreciative of the work that the City of Middletown put into this project with us, as well as Northeast Collaborative Architects. Oddfellows is incredibly proud to have received our first grant from the National Endowment for the Arts for this project. ”
For a complete listing of projects recommended for Our Town grant support, please visit the NEA web site at arts.gov. For more information on programs, to register for classes or to purchase tickets to performances, call Oddfellows at (860) 347-6143 or log onto www.oddfellows.org.
About Oddfellows Playhouse:
Oddfellows Playhouse is located at 128 Washington Street, Middletown. For more than 35 years Oddfellows Playhouse has been more than just a performing arts program. It aims to make a positive difference in the lives of 1,500 young people each year by using the arts as tools to build self-confidence, communication skills, a sense of responsibility, and an appreciation for the richness and diversity of the world in which we live.
Oddfellows programming is made possible through the generous support of the American Savings Foundation, the CDBG Scholarship Program, the CT Department of Economic and Community Development, the CT Department of Education, Community Foundation of Middlesex County, Daphne Seybolt Culpeper Memorial Fund, Elizabeth Carse Foundation, the Fund for Greater Hartford, the George A. and Grace L. Long Foundation, the Irving Kohn Foundation, the J. Walton Bissell Foundation, Liberty Bank Foundation, Maximilian E. & Marion O. Hoffman Foundation, Middlesex United Way, the Middletown Commission on the Arts, Middletown Youth Service Bureau Afterschool Incentive Grant, National Endowment for the Arts, Pratt & Whitney, Price Chopper Golub Foundation, the Stare Fund, Stop and Shop Foundation, Thomas J. Atkins Foundation, Triple Frog, LLC.
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