Columbus chosen for National Endowment of the Arts grant

Published 4:43pm Thursday, August 1, 2013

Columbus will be encouraged to bloom over the next 18 months, with a $50,000 grant from the National Endowment of the Arts.

The grant supports cooperation between the town and Handmade in America in revitalizing downtown and showcasing the strengths of Columbus’s cultural heritage.

“I think this grant provides a vital piece to what we do with community redevelopment,” said Jonathan Kanipe, town manager. “Many talented craftsmen and artists live here, and we want to support them however we can. We’re very excited about the whole process.”

Jessica Kryzenske, director of Creative Economies for Handmade in America, ensured that the grant aligned with the overall community redevelopment goals, Kanipe said. The grant supplies $50,000 for arts-based renewal in Columbus. The National Endowment for the Arts has awarded 51 Our Town grant awards this year.

“We want to help the community create something sustainable that will last much longer than the 18-month grant cycle,” Kryzenske said. “It’s exciting, because this grant not only allows HIA to learn what’s needed, but also to start the first projects of revitalization. Columbus has its own particular identity, and together we can find ways to animate the downtown area.”

The Town of Columbus has many blessings, Kryzenske said, including a multigenerational base of volunteers. The area has a history of good Old Time music, and the local sounds and foods can become part of the revitalization plan, as traditions pass from older to younger generations. The grant will help showcase the town’s strengths, she said.

“The House of Flags is the only museum of its kind in the nation, and Columbus also boasts a beautiful courthouse, wonderful park space and an iconic water tower,” Kryzenske said. “The role we play will be as facilitators, helping community members find common ground. The steering committee here is very talented, and it’s a community-driven, grassroots process.”

Through the foresight of the Polk County Community Foundation, Handmade in America has conducted a three-day assessment of community needs, gathering data from longtime residents, business owners and former residents of Columbus, Kryzenske said. HIA welcomes comments from people who know Columbus best, and continues gathering data on historic figures, historic buildings and the unique values of this area.

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