Abilene receives multiple grants to fund art projects


ABILENE, Texas (PRESS RELEASE) – The Texas Commission on the Arts (TCA) has approved funding for $12.9 million in grants for fiscal year 2021, including a project for the Abilene Cultural District in the amount of $94,566. The matching grant will fund the Abilene Cultural Affairs Council’s “Freedom to Roam” project designed to light two underpasses to connect the Abilene Cultural District with the SoDA District (South Downtown Abilene) and to commission a signature public sculpture that will be located between the Adamson-Spalding Storybook Garden, the Abilene Convention Center and the new DoubleTree by Hilton hotel. The projects are a collaboration between the Abilene Cultural Affairs Council, the City of Abilene and SoDA.

The underpass lighting project will include security cameras and will enhance safety and pedestrian traffic between both sides of downtown, which are divided by the North and South 1st railroad tracks that go through the center of town. The lighting project will encourage visitors to travel back and forth at night through the underpass to have a drink, eat dinner and visit venues and outdoor sculptures.

The goal of the “Freedom to Roam” project is to create an increase in downtown cultural tourism.

“Public art directly influences how people perceive and connect with a place,” said Lynn Barnett, executive director of the Abilene Cultural Affairs Council, which is an Abilene Chamber of Commerce affiliate. “In this unprecedented time of social distancing, public art and lighting provides a visual mechanism which reinforces social connectivity and serves as a tool for economic growth and sustainability.”

In addition to the “Freedom to Roam” grant the TCA awarded through the Cultural District Project program, the Abilene Cultural Affairs Council received the second year of its TCA Arts Create grant in the amount of $6,500 for operations and $3,000 from the TCA Arts Respond Project program for the Children’s Art & Literacy Festival.

Other Abilene art organizations that were awarded funding are The Grace Museum, Abilene Community Theatre, the Abilene Philharmonic Association, the Center for Contemporary Arts, Chorus Abilene, and the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature. Their grant amounts varied from $2,000 to $7,000.

“We are honored and humbled to provide these grants to help sustain the Texas arts industry, which has been economically devastated by COVID-19. Over the last several months, we have seen many arts organizations and artists find creative and flexible ways to bridge distances and to find new ways of conducting their work and connecting communities. The arts have brought much comfort and means of expression to people across our state,” said Gary Gibbs, executive director of TCA. “However, it is important to note that most organizations and artists are not making the money they were before social distancing became necessary. We are proud to invest these funds with arts organizations toward recovering the creative economy in Texas.”

Abilene Community Theatre Arts Create – General $3,500

Abilene Cultural Affairs Council Cultural District Project $94,566

Abilene Cultural Affairs Council Arts Respond Project $3,000

Abilene Cultural Affairs Council Arts Create – General $6,500

Abilene Philharmonic Association Cultural District Project $7,000

Abilene Philharmonic Association Arts Respond Project $4,500

Abilene Philharmonic Association Arts Create – General $5,500

Center for Contemporary Arts Arts Respond Project $2,000

Chorus Abilene Arts Create – General $4,500

Grace Museum Arts Create – General $4,500

Grace Museum Arts Respond Project $4,000

National Center for Children’s Illustrated

Literature Cultural District Project $3,500

National Center for Children’s Illustrated

Literature Arts Create – General $6,500

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