John Jermain’s interest in pursuing a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to fund the creation of a “Cultural District” on south Main Street in Sag Harbor received some nice attention from the Sag Harbor Express.
Here’s a link to the article by the Express’ Kathryn Menu.
And here’s a follow up Letter-to-the-Editor that we subsequently submitted that clarifies a few points.
We would like to thank the Sag Harbor Express, the Sag Harbor Village Board, and the many organizations and individuals who have expressed support for, and interest in the proposed Sag Harbor Cultural District. The enthusiastic support of the community has been both inspiring and humbling. It shows, we believe, that Sag Harbor truly embraces its historic role as a nurturing home for arts and culture.
The Express did an excellent job of reporting on the Library’s initiative, as it currently exists. However many details remain to be worked out, and some important considerations just didn’t fit into the space available in the newspaper—so we would like to take this opportunity to clarify a few points.
The impetus for our idea was the opportunity to apply for a grant for creative placemaking from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). This grant is very specifically targeted, and has as its goal the idea of improving the life of the community through the arts. The NEA hopes to see the arts, and art-related activities in places in the community where they may not have traditionally flourished.
In our reading of the grant documentation —in which the creation of a “cultural district” is explicitly mentioned—we see a strong preference for applicants who propose community improvement through arts activities in an under-served (by the arts) area within the community. This led to our identifying south Main Street as such a location. Our hopes of winning this grant are therefore tied to developing a comprehensive vision of this geographic area as a hub of arts activity. Happily, we are blessed by having five strong cultural institutions already located in this area, all of which have previously engaged in some level of arts programming.
Of course, we realize that Sag Harbor has many other arts and cultural institutions, both non-profit and commercial, and as the cultural district concept develops and grows (which we hope it will) we look forward to including them as an integral part of the “district.” But initially, in order to give our grant application the clear focus demanded by the NEA, the organizations directly involved in this phase are limited to those located on the southern part of Main Street.
Again, we value Sag Harbor’s many other cultural and arts institutions and businesses and very much look forward to a more inclusive program in what we’re now thinking of as “phase two,” to take place sometime after the initial grant application process.
Finally, it must also be mentioned that input from individual community members, whether affiliated with an arts organization or not, will be a crucial part of our planning process. As our plans coalesce, watch for announcements of specific opportunities to share your ideas and opinions. In the meantime, you may contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions and/or suggestions.
For the John Jermain Memorial Library
As of this writing, due to the short time frame until the grant application for funding in 2013 was due to be submitted, the consortium of south Main Street cultural institutions has postponed applying for the grant until the 2014 round of funding becomes available.