Speed Art Museum receives NEA Our Town Grant

Speed Art Museum receives NEA Our Town Grant to Fulfill Community Outreach Initiatives in the Russell Neighborhood

Wednesday, June 10, 2020, Louisville, KY – The Speed Art Museum is honored to announce its selection as one of only 51 recipients nationwide to receive funding from the National Endowment for the Arts Our Town grants program. The Our Town grant emphasizes integrating arts and culture to strengthen communities. The award, in the amount of $50,000, will allow the Speed to fully realize its outreach goals in Louisville’s Russell neighborhood over the next two years. Approved by NEA Chairman Mary Anne Carter, Our Town funding will support a series of community art-making workshops, an artist residency, and other artistic programming in the neighborhood. The Speed will match the NEA funds with an additional $50,000 to support this work.

“These awards demonstrate the resilience of the arts in America, showcasing not only the creativity of their arts projects but the organizations’ agility in the face of a national health crisis,” said Mary Anne Carter, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. “We celebrate organizations like the Speed Art Museum for providing opportunities for learning and engagement through the arts in these times.”

Through the Museum’s Community Connections program, the Speed will establish a Community Connections Artist residency program. The goal of the newly established residency is that each year, one artist will spend 8 months building their artistic practice and engaging the community, resulting in a public exhibition or art installation. The Speed will seek local artists that display artistic excellence and are deeply invested in the Russell neighborhood. Artists will apply for the residency through a formal application process for selection by a committee. Each artist will be provided a stipend to further their creative practice. This project will be overseen by Toya Northington, the Speed’s Community Outreach Manager who is herself an artist with deep ties to the West End.

Northington will also work with the Community Connections Artist  to develop  and expand partnerships with local non-profit and grassroots organizations. These organizations will participate in a Community Connections program designed to directly engage the communities they serve in an 8-week art-making workshop. The focus of the projects is to provide opportunities for learning, for healing, for inspiring social change, and for building community  among program participants, the Artist-in-Residence, and Northington and her Outreach team. Each group will share its experiences with the larger community through public installations/exhibitions both in the Russell neighborhood and at the Speed Museum. In addition, participants in the program will receive a free Speed for All Membership to the museum.

“The Speed is also excited to offer public art-making workshops on a monthly basis in Russell,” stated Shannon Karol, Director of Education at the Speed Art Museum. “These workshops will be free and open to the public and are inspired by the Speed’s collection. Our goal is to engage with residents throughout the West End by providing opportunities for artistic expression and the exploration of their own creativity.”

The Speed looks forward to including existing community outreach and education partners like Black CDC, the HOMES project, Byck Elementary, Play Cousins Collective, and others, in this work. The City of Louisville will partner with the Speed to secure additional community partners, to identify locations for public workshops and installations, and to obtain any necessary public art permits.

“I am pleased to congratulate the Speed Art Museum and all project partners on receiving an Our Town grant award from the National Endowment for the Arts,” said Sarah Lindgren, the city’s Public Art Administrator. “The NEA investment in the Speed’s Community Connections program will help to advance the community’s Vision Russell goals, for Russell to be a neighborhood of opportunity and choice and to improve the quality of life for all residents.”

“We are excited to expand our engagement in West Louisville and the Russell neighborhood, beautifully depicted in our current exhibition ‘Loose Nuts: Bert Hurley’s West End Story,’” stated Stephen Reily, Director of the Speed Art Museum. “And we look forward to learning from artists, educators, and families in Russell by making art and talking together, then inviting them back to the Speed, where we hope they will always feel at home,” Reily added.

This program will begin in the fall of 2020 and run through the summer of 2022.


About the Speed Art Museum
The Speed Art Museum is Kentucky’s largest art museum. Its mission is to “invite everyone to celebrate art forever.” It is an independent and encyclopedic museum located on the campus of the University of Louisville. In 1927, Louisville philanthropist Hattie Bishop Speed founded the Speed Art Museum, with a belief in the power of art to change people’s lives.

The Speed will reopen to the public on July 5 with the exhibitions Andy Warhol: Revelation, The World Turned Upside Down and The World Turned Upside Down: A Contemporary Response, and the much acclaimed Loose Nuts: Bert Hurley’s West End Story. Upcoming exhibitions include Careful, Neat & Decent: Arts of the Kentucky Shakers and Mariam Ghani + Erin Ellen Kelly: When the Spirits Moved Them, They Moved, both part of Shaker Commonwealth, a celebration of Kentucky Shaker arts and culture at the Speed Art Museum, opening August 21, 2020.

In order to ensure the safety of our staff and our guests when we reopen, face masks are required and time ticketing is strongly encouraged. Please check our website www.speedmuseum.org for the most up-to-date information on hours of operation and reopening guidelines.

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