Kansas City, Mo. – The National Endowment for the Arts announced its first round of "Our Town" grants on Tuesday. Projects in 34 states, including restoring an historic theater in Kansas City, Missouri, were awarded more than $6.5 million. KCUR's Laura Spencer reports. -------------------------------
NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman says he uses a framework called creative placemaking: "Which simply put, are the ways that towns and cities shape their social, physical and economic characters."
"Our Town" grants require a partnership between local governments and arts organizations. A proposal spearheaded by the Arts Council of Metropolitan Kansas City and the Downtown Council of Kansas City to renovate the historic Boone Theater in Kansas City's 18th and Vine Jazz District received a grant for $200,000. The Boone Theater was named for John "Blind" Boone, a ragtime pianist, composer, and performer.
NEA's Director of Design Jason Schupback described the Kansas City proposal during an online press conference. "The project is designed to strengthen the existing arts and cultural district by transforming a blighted vacant space into a vibrant cultural center."
Plans are in place, pending an estimated $2.5 million restoration, to turn the Boone Theater into the headquarters and performance space for the Folk Alliance International now based in Memphis.
Listen to an extended interview about the Boone Theater, its past and its future, here.
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