Plains Art Museum receives a Bush Foundation Community Innovation Grant

We are able to share some wonderful news today: The Bush Foundation announced the award of a $200,000 Community Innovation Grant to Plains Art Museum. Our project, Public Art and Community Engagement, was one of 34 programs to receive grants from the Foundation, which received 618 grant applications from within Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota for this round of funding.

“This is exciting news for our communities,” said Colleen Sheehy, Plains Art Museum Director and CEO. “The Museum has built a strong network of community partners around specific public art projects and also as part of our ongoing work in social engagement that includes city staff and departments, universities and colleges, area businesses, arts organizations, immigrant organizations, and youth programs. We’re excited to work together to build more vibrant cities with strong community engagement by using art and artists to lead the way.”

Funds from the grant will be used to increase the vibrancy of the urban cores of Fargo and Moorhead through demonstration public art projects, exhibitions, a symposium, community meetings, and workshops. The range of activities includes:

  • Three artist-led initiatives that will be demonstration projects in public art, which also have received funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and from Artplace America. The Defiant Gardens program includes a Garden for the Moorhead Power Plant, a Winter Fern Grotto for Fargo, and a Pollinator Garden on museum grounds.
  • Collaborating with the City of Fargo on “The Fargo Project,” a community collaboration to redesign a storm water retention basin, partially funded by an Our Town NEA grant.
  • Supporting socially engaged art and community connections by collaborating on art and community projects in summer 2014 in Living as Form. This will be an artist and community engagement platform that will bring people together to create and experience temporary art and activities that address community needs. A symposium will bring together Midwestern artists to discuss and demonstrate social engagement art practices occurring in the Midwest.
  • Collaborating on and presenting public art workshops for artists, developers, city planning staff, faculty and students.
  • Engaging with city staff, arts leaders, and artists to advance public art plans and involvement of artists in community projects in order to create more vibrant public places that are welcoming and appealing to all.

The Bush Foundation’s Community Innovation Grant program supports organizations working to create or implement an innovative solution to address a community need or opportunity. The innovation must be developed through community problem-solving – inclusive, collaborative processes focused on making the most of community assets – and be more effective, equitable or sustainable than existing approaches.  The program is part of the Bush Foundation’s effort to enable, inspire and reward community innovation.

“Community innovation occurs when people come together to think bigger and think differently about what is possible for their communities,” said Molly Matheson Gruen, the Bush Foundation’s community innovation manager. “Our inaugural Community Innovation Grant recipients are tackling a range of issues impacting quality of life in their communities.  And they are doing it in a way that ensures all voices are heard and that the solutions will endure.”

The Bush Foundation is awarding more than $4 million to 34 organizations in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and the 23 Native nations that share the same geography, through its Community Innovation Grant program. The Foundation received 618 Community Innovation Grant applications requesting more than $76 million.

The full list of Community Innovation Grant recipients can be found on the Bush Foundation website.