News: 2012 Our Town Grant Recipients

NEA Announces 2012 Our Town Grant Recipients
Austin Film Society one of 80 grantees selected nationwide

July 12, 2012


NEA(Austin, TX)— Today 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. The Austin Film Society is proud to have been selected as a grantee, receiving $75,000 to fund community engagement and design for Austin Studios’ expansion as the organization incorporates the neighboring decommissioned National Guard Building (NGB) into its current site.

Through Our Town, the NEA supports creative placemaking projects that help transform communities into lively, beautiful, and sustainable places with the arts at their core. The grantee projects will improve quality of life, encourage creative activity, create community identity and a sense of place, and help revitalize local economies. 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. “We could not be more proud to lend our support and participation to this project, which we are confident will create a ripple effect of creativity and vibrancy from East Austin throughout the entire City and Central Texas region,” said city official Megan Crigger on behalf of Austin’s Economic Growth and Redevelopment Services Offices (EGRSO).

AFS will use the Our Town grant specifically to involve the community in the design of the “public face” of Austin Studios, which includes remodeling the NGB into affordable space for production and education; programming and design of a new Exhibition and Visitors Center with a plaza/lobby for events, screening rooms for AFS’s exhibition programs, artists, festivals and community organizations; and plans for signage, landscaping and other campus infrastructure that allow the public to experience Austin Studios (i.e. observing and interacting with working filmmakers and other artists).

Austin Studios’ expansion fulfills four major needs identified by the 2008 CreateAustin Cultural Master Plan commissioned by the City of Austin Cultural Arts Division, to: 1) increase affordable cultural facilities; 2) foster and retain a talented workforce for Austin’s creative industries; 3) ensure community-based access to creative educational opportunities; and 4) develop cultural tourism opportunities to promote Austin across the country and world.

“The [Austin Studios] expansion will provide new opportunities for creative media professionals and audience members; increase resources for Austin’s independent filmmakers and media artists; and strengthen AFS’ engagement with its under-resourced neighbors in East Austin,” said Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell about the grant. “Austin is proud to be a hub for creative media and this grant will transform the vision into an actionable design.”

“In meetings with the film community last year, filmmakers described their need for scalable, affordable space, common areas for collaboration, security and 24/7 access,” said AFS Executive Director Rebecca Campbell. “The NEA grant will provide us with a professional design team to respond to those needs as we move the planning process forward.”

“Cities and towns are transformed when you bring the arts–both literally and figuratively–into the center of them,” said NEA Chairman Rocco 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.”

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, a testament to the artistic excellence and merit of Austin Studios as a creative hub for Austin’s media artists.

For a complete listing of projects recommended for Our Town grant support, please visit the NEA web site at

About the City of Austin Economic Growth and Redevelopment Services Office (EGRSO)
The Economic Growth and Redevelopment Services Office was created to lead the economic development, small business development, cultural arts and emerging technology programs for the City of Austin. Together, the mission of these programs is to create a cultural and economic environment that enhances the vitality of the community in a manner that preserves Austin’s character and environment. For more information on EGRSO, visit

About AFS
The Austin Film Society promotes the appreciation of film and supports creative media production by screening rarely seen films, giving grants and other support to emerging filmmakers, and providing access and education about film to youth and the public. Through Austin Studios, which AFS opened in 2000 through a partnership with the City of Austin, AFS attracts film development and production to Austin and Texas. Gala film premieres and the annual Texas Film Hall of Fame Awards raise funds and awareness of the impact of film on economy and community. Austin Film Society is ranked among the top film centers in the country and recognized by the National Endowment for the Arts and Directors Guild of America. For more information on Austin Film Society, visit

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