Gomez, Czelsi
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Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design

Applications open through July 22 for workshops and learning opportunities

The Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design™ (CIRD) welcomes applications to the 2019 program through July 22. Since 1991, this National Endowment for the Arts program has offered funding and technical assistance to communities with populations of 50,000 or less to address local challenges related to economic vitality and quality of life through design solutions.

 “The National Endowment for the Arts has a long history of funding arts and cultural activities in rural communities,” said the NEA Acting Chairman Mary Anne Carter. “This is especially important considering that private dollars routinely bypass rural America. The National Endowment for the Arts, with its state and regional partners, provide funding in 25 percent of the countries across the nation that the top 1,000 private foundations do not.”

New this year to the CIRD program is a peer-learning component for rural leaders that features training in design, planning, community engagement, and facilitation techniques as well as support in navigating funding opportunities. The NEA anticipates funding three local design workshops and up to 20 additional communities in the
peer-learning program.

All rural communities of 50,000 or less are eligible to apply for the CIRD local workshop and learning cohort opportunities. Applications from nonprofits, tribal or municipal governments, regional planning organizations, and other community partners are encouraged.

Topic areas for a Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design project include challenges such as:

• Historic preservation and adaptive reuse of community buildings;

• Designing quality affordable housing that supports livable and equitable communities, including housing and other amenities that support the elderly and aging;

• Creating public or civic space that supports and integrates cultural expression and local identity and/or play and active recreation;

• Developing recreational trails for mobility, active transportation, and economic development;

• Redesigning Main Street as a local street versus state highway/thruway;

• Improving access to healthy food and local food eco-systems;

• Leveraging Main Street or local businesses for economic development, including branding, wayfinding, facade improvements, and streetscape design; and

• Integrating cultural identity into the built environment to drive heritage tourism.

To host a local community workshop, successful applicants will receive a $10,000 stipend, and in-kind professional design expertise and technical assistance. Selected communities are required to provide $10,000 in matching funds (cash or in-kind services). The workshops include site visits, panel discussions, and presentations led by professionals who have expertise in a range of rural design topics.

The Learning Cohort program will invite rural community leaders from government, non-profits, local business, and civic organizations to gather together for peer learning; training in design, planning, community engagement, and facilitation techniques; and support in navigating funding opportunities to make their community’s vision a reality. Learn more at www.rural-design.org.

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