National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Chairman Jane Chu today announced plans to award 66 Our Town grants totaling $5.073 million and reaching 38 states. M12 Collective in Byers, CO was one of the awardees, with a grant of $25,000.

The NEA grant will support Action on the Plains: Contemporary Art in Rural Environments, an artist-in-residence program in rural Washington County, Colorado. The grant will provide each artist with housing and studio space, technical assistance, a stipend and transportation. Artists chosen for 2014 and 2015 are folklorist and community activist Jennifer Joy Jameson from the Nashville Free + Folk Skool, Colorado-based filmmaker Kimberly Shively, and photographer Steve Fitch from New Mexico. Primary partners are M12, an interdisciplinary arts group based in Colorado that creates context-based art works, research projects and education programs, and the Office of the Washington County Colorado Commissioners. Now in its fourth year, the program fosters rural community interactions, supports arts and cultural engagement with agricultural workers, and increases rural/urban partnerships. The program works in and around the town of Last Chance, which has 16 residents.

Our Town projects demonstrate that excellent art is as fundamental to a community's success as land-use, transportation, education, housing, infrastructure and public safety, helping build stronger communities that are diverse in geography and character. Our Town funds arts-based community development projects in a way that augments existing local assets. Since Our Town's inception in 2011 and including these projects, the NEA will have awarded 256 Our Town grants totaling more than $21 million in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

"M12 demonstrates the best in creative community development and whose work will have a valuable impact on its community,” said Chairman Chu. "Through Our Town funding, arts organizations continue to spark vitality that support neighborhoods and public spaces, enhancing a sense of place for residents and visitors alike."

“Colorado congratulates M12 Collective on their NEA Our Town Award,” said Margaret Hunt, Director of Colorado Creative Industries (CCI). “The Action on the Plains project speaks to the exciting growing contemporary art movement in Colorado’s rural areas and helps to promote the unique identity of Colorado plains communities.”

The NEA received 275 applications for Our Town this year. Recommended grant amounts ranged from $25,000 to $200,000. For a complete listing of projects recommended for Our Town grant support, please visit the NEA website at Project descriptions, grants listed by state and by project type, and resources are available as well. Join the conversation #NEAOurTown14.

About Colorado Creative Industries
Colorado Creative Industries is Colorado’s state arts agency and is a division of the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade. Established to capitalize on the immense potential for our creative sector to enhance economic growth in Colorado, the mission of CCI is to promote, support and expand the creative industries to drive the state’s economy, grow jobs and enhance our quality of life.