By Muncie Arts and Culture Council—
MUNCIE, Ind.—The Muncie Arts and Culture Council is one of 15 Indiana non-profit arts organizations and cultural programming providers to receive a 2022 Arts Project grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
MuncieArts received a matching $30,000 Arts Project Grant to support its PlySpace Residency Program. The funds will be used to bring 12 visiting artists to Muncie to work collaboratively with non-profit organizations, schools, and community groups on special community-focused projects.
“These National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) grants underscore the resilience of our nation’s artists and arts organizations, will support efforts to provide access to the arts, and rebuild the creative economy,” said NEA Acting Chair Ann Eilers. “The supported projects demonstrate how the arts are a source of strength and well-being for communities and individuals, and can open doors to conversations that address complex issues of our time.”
This is the fourth and largest annual grant from the NEA received by MuncieArts since 2018, and all of the funding will be circulated back into the community of Muncie, according to MuncieArts Executive Director Erin Williams.
“Our award was the second highest award granted in the state, and the only award in the region,” Williams added. “We are incredibly proud of this program and the contributions it makes to the community. Every resident artist leaves their creative mark in Muncie and takes a little bit of Muncie home with them.”
Since developing the program in 2018, PlySpace has hosted 37 residents and completed 76 different community projects, including temporary public artworks and installations, free workshops, panel discussions, film series, and other participatory events benefitting the community.
PlySpace is currently located in a post-Victorian home at 608 E Main St. in the historic Emily Kimborough Neighborhood in downtown Muncie and provides an all-inclusive living/learning experience for artists from across the globe. The lower level of PlySpace is home to the offices for MuncieArts as well as PlySpace project and exhibition space.
More about PlySpace and its projects can be found at plyspace.org.
“We are so grateful for the support the National Endowment for the Arts has shown for our projects, programs, and vision for what collaborative artwork can look like in Muncie,” said Dave Franklin, President of the MuncieArts Board of Directors. “Residents from this program have gone on to talk about their experience, and the benefits of a program like this in Muncie, on a national stage.”
Residents like playwright Adrienne Dawes.
“In my seven-week residency, I completed a 103-page draft, culminating in a public reading in PlySpace’s gallery,” Dawes said in a 2019 New York Times article. Dawes participated in the PlySpace residency program in the summer of 2019 and worked with four local actors to realize her first public reading of her play.
“In our post-performance discussion, the audience explored the play’s themes: performative ‘wokeness,’ trauma(s), and the devastatingly underfunded foster care system,” she said. “Although my play (now creatively titled) ‘Hairy and Sherri’ is very much set in Austin, I love that it now shares history in Muncie.”
Though receiving a grant from the NEA is a highly competitive honor, Williams noted that the arts organization also couldn’t exist without community support.
“We would like to thank our funders and donors like the Community Foundation of Muncie and Delaware County and the Ball Brothers Foundation for helping meet the match for past NEA grants through their generous support,” Williams said. “We also thank our project partners – Ball State University College of Fine Arts, Sustainable Muncie Corporation, and the City of Muncie – for their past support of the program.
And finally, we thank the wonderful nonprofits and social service organizations that are working so hard to make Muncie a place where we all want to live.
“We are so happy to help put these organizations in contact with visiting artists who have fresh and unique ideas about creative collaboration. It is incredible to witness the benefits these projects bring to communities and neighborhoods across the city.”