Deep Center was named as one of only 64 recipients of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Our Town awards today, announced NEA chairman Jane Chu. A total of $4.3 million will be granted through this program, and Deep will receive $50,000 to support Story Map, a project of its Block by Block program. This is Deep’s second year as a recipient of this highly competitive grant. Deep is the only nonprofit in Savannah’s history to receive NEA funding for youth educational programming.
The Our Town grant program supports creative placemaking projects that help to transform communities into lively, beautiful and resilient places with the arts at their core. Since the program’s inception in 2011 and including these projects, the NEA will have awarded 389 Our Town grants totaling almost $31 million in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia.
“For six years, Our Town has made a difference for people and the places where they live, work, and play,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “Projects such as Deep Center’s Story Map help residents engage the arts to spark vitality in their communities. Deep Center demonstrates the best in creative community development, and its work will have a valuable impact on Savannah.”
“The City of Savannah is proud to partner with Deep Center on this innovative arts and community development project,” said Savannah Mayor Eddie DeLoach. “With the NEA’s support, Deep continues to lead the way both locally and nationally in leveraging arts and culture to build vital assets in our neighborhoods that need them most.”
Story Map is a new project of Block by Block, Deep Center’s advanced creative-writing and youth leadership program that helps Savannah’s young writers connect their personal stories to the narratives of their neighborhoods and society at-large. With crucial NEA Our Town funding—only the second grant of its kind in Savannah (Deep received both)—Block by Block’s team of adult creative writers and artists will work with 24 young writers (ages 13-18) from the city’s East Side to research, document and tell the past and present stories of their families, streets and community through creative writing and public art. The project will include public readings and culminate with a community celebration in summer 2017 that will include a book launch of original youth writing, public art celebrating the youths’ stories and an art march.
“At Deep Center, we know that everyone has a story worth telling and that when young people write the forgotten or unheard stories of their lives and neighborhoods entire communities can be transformed,” said Dare Dukes, executive director of Deep Center. “We are grateful for the NEA’s support in helping our young authors elevate and celebrate the vivid past and present of one of Savannah’s most storied neighborhoods, the East Side.”