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NEA awards placemaking grant to Unicoi’s Tanasi arts center

Sue Guinn Legg • Jun 19, 2017 at 10:50 PM

UNICOI — The National Endowment for the Arts has awarded a $25,000 “Our Town” placemaking grant to the nonprofit Tanasi Arts & Heritage Center in Unicoi.

With a 50/50 match of primarily in-kind donations from the Tanasi center and seven partner organizations, including the town of Unicoi, the grant will fund a yearlong “Functional Artways of America” series of monthly events showcasing regional art and craft-making traditions.

Scheduled to begin in August, the free series will feature live demonstrations and opportunities for community members to try their hand at pottery making, woodcarving, weaving and other fiber arts, storytelling, chair caning, flint knapping, broom making and other arts and crafts of the region.

The series will also include artists-in-residence at the Tanasi Gallery, located in the Unicoi Tourists and Visitors Center, for each of two weeklong events.

According to press release announcing the grant, the series will “provide opportunities for area residents to connect with local cultural assets, strengthen a unique sense of place, boost tourism and provide an economic outlet for local artisans.”

Tanasi board member Court Lewis, who is chairing the project’s marketing committee, said, “The purpose is to embed the arts more deeply and more richly in the community” by giving practitioners an opportunity to display and community members an opportunity to experience the making of arts and crafts.

Lewis said matching funding for the grant will include small cash contributions from Tanasi and the other project partners but will primarily consist of in-kind donations, including professional services and venue space.

In addition to the town, the project’s partners include the Unicoi County Heritage Museum, the Unicoi County Chamber of Commerce and the East Tennessee State University storytelling program. While many of the events will take place at the Unicoi Visitors Center, other venues will include the town’s Bogart-Bowman Cabin and Mountain Harvest Kitchen, the Unicoi County Heritage Museum, Stegall’s Stoneware and Farmhouse Gardens & Gallery.

The grant is part of $6.89 million in NEA Our Town placemaking grants awarded this month to 89 arts organizations across the nation. The NEA grant program supports partnerships of artists, arts organizations and local governments to revitalize communities “by highlighting the distinctiveness of a place” and “encouraging residents to identify and build upon their local creative assets,” organizers said.

For more details about the local Tanasi Functional Artways series, visit www.tanasiarts.org or the Tanasi Arts & Heritage page on Facebook.

Email Sue Guinn Legg at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @sueleggjcpress. Like her on Facebook at facebook.com/sueleggjcpress.

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