T he City of Reno Arts & Culture Commission’s new grant program is a little unusual. Applicants are more likely to be business owners or neighborhood groups than seasoned artists, and the outdoor art projects that result are intended to be temporary. The program, which began this month, is called Art Belongs Here. I talked with Public Art Program Coordinator Megan Berner to learn more.

How did this program come about?

I actually had an opportunity in April to go to Denver for a conference on creative placemaking. The folks who started this program were there, and I was like, this is so cool, and a really great way to interact with more people in the city.

What do you mean by “placemaking”?

It’s kind of a nebulous term. At the heart, I think it’s about taking place into consideration, whatever factors that might be–the climate, the people, the neighborhood, the cultural heritage, history, all those things.

Do you foresee any specific types of artworks that this program might yield?

This is the call for ideas. It’s community driven, so we want people and neighborhoods to collaborate. The requirement is that you have to be a place-based organization, so situated in the neighborhood where you want to do the project. So it could be a business or a non-profit. We’ve even sort of expanded it to say that neighborhood advisory boards could initiate projects.

So, it’s not necessarily a piece of sculpture. It could be something else.

It could be something else. … [In Denver,] a non-profit group that worked mostly with the Latino community had connections to a low-income housing area. They did a project where they hired a bunch of different artists to paint dumpsters.

There’s another project they did under an underpass. It was a neighborhood advisory group. They created lighting in this dark, grimy underpass. … They painted murals right alongside of that project. And that’s kind of the idea, that the commission is offering up $10,000 … They have to connect with artists. Hopefully an artist that lives in that specific community. And we’re offering to help people connect to artists, because we have the ability to do that. … And there is, on the website, a helpful hints page that has some starting points for thinking about your project.

Public Art Program Coordinator Megan Berner hopes that the City’s new grant program results in new collaborations and public art pieces in each ward in Reno.

And the art pieces are intended to be permanent?

They are intended to be temporary, actually, because permanent gets a little trickier. They’re required to have a maintenance plan of their own. Part of this is we want the neighborhoods to generate these ideas, but also take ownership of them, for however long they’re up. Three months is the minimum, … up to a year. There is some language in there that says if it’s a mural or some other type of project that may be permanent, there are options for that to happen.

You mentioned a $10,000 budget. Is that $10,000 per neighborhood?

That’s the idea. The commission’s hoping to distribute the funds, so [project teams] can ask for up to $10,000. We have a matching requirement, but it doesn’t have to be cash. It can be in-kind donations of goods and services.

If you’re an artist, business or other entity considering applying for the Art Belongs Here grant, this video should get your gears turning. It shows examples of temporary public art projects from a similar program, P.S. You Are Here, which the city of Denver has been running since 2014. Video: City and County of Denver.

Learn more about Reno’s new Art Belongs Here grant here. The 2019 submission deadline is March 29.

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Posted by Kris Vagner

Kris Vagner, Double Scoop's Editor and Publisher, is a journalist who's been covering arts and culture in Nevada and California since 2004. She freelances for the Reno News & Review and other publications. Kris has earned awards for critical writing, entertainment writing, feature writing, and—somehow—sportswriting. Read more at www.krisvagner.com.

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