Lexington's North Limestone neighborhood gets $75,000 National Endowment for the Arts grant

sosborne@herald-leader.comJuly 16, 2014 

Mayor Jim Gray announced Monday in front of the Loudoun House in Castlewood Park that Lexington's North Limestone neighborhood is the recipient of an Our Town grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

The Blue Grass Community Foundation and North Limestone Community Development Corporation were awarded the $75,000 grant together.

"The area surrounding the North Limestone corridor is one of the most diverse parts of Lexington," Gray said. "The Our Town grant will develop the North Limestone Cultural Plan, bringing the community together to set priorities and develop strategies for improving access to public art and cultural programming."

Gray said the North Limestone Cultural Plan will be the first master plan of its kind in Lexington.

The grant will also help pay for two public art projects in the North Limestone neighborhood, including a mural on the Kentucky American Water retention tank on York Street.

Thanks to additional funding from the Gimble Foundation and Kentucky American Water, the site will also feature a large-scale monarch butterfly garden, Gray said.

"We believe the North Limestone Cultural Plan will unite residents, businesses, arts organizations, schools and city government to form a cohesive vision for arts, culture and public space in our community," Richard Young, executive director of the North Limestone Community Development Corp., said.

Young said the planning process for the project will begin in September and estimates it will take a year. The public arts projects will be completed following that process.

Blue Grass Community Foundation will administer the Our Town grant.

Young said the North Limestone community will have a voice in the plans throughout the process.

"We plan to work with our community through public forums and walking audits to ensure that this plan is rooted in its values," he said.

Other partners in the project include the North Limestone Neighborhood Association, LexArts, University of Kentucky Department of Community & Leadership Development, the city, and the planning and design firm Lord Aeck Sargent.

"Our Town funding will inspire the best in creative community development," Allison Lankford, vice president of Blue Grass Community Foundation, said. "We are very proud to partner with the community on this innovative project."

The Our Town grant comes a year after the North Limestone Community Development Corp. received a $425,000 ArtPlace America grant to create an affordable home ownership and equity program for artists and makers in the North Limestone neighborhood.

"The NoLi CDC is to be commended for its hard work and intentional efforts to bring artistic creativity, vibrancy and inclusion to the neighborhoods north of Main Street," First District Councilmember Chris Ford said.

The NEA received 275 applications for Our Town this year, with North Limestone Development Corp. being one of 66 organizations nationwide to receive the grants, which range from $25,000 to $200,000.

Sam Osborne: (859) 231-3308 Twitter: @samo430.

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