East Chattanooga’s Glass House Collective receives $300,000 grant from ArtPlace. Grant allows Glass Street to get a new look and begin community renewal efforts.

Artistic streetscaping, art interventions and training for creative entrepreneurs are coming to Glass Street, thanks to a significant grant from ArtPlace. Glass House Collective is spearheading the revitalization effort and beginning the process by investing in artists to make the street look cleaner, safer, and more inviting.

ArtPlace is a new national collaboration of 11 major national and regional foundations, six of the nation’s largest banks, and eight federal agencies, including the National Endowment for the Arts, to accelerate creative placemaking across the U.S. To date, ArtPlace has raised almost $50 million to work alongside federal and local governments to transform communities with strategic investments in the arts.

Glass House Collective intends to utilize the grant money to support a series of projects by individual artists. Designing streetlights, trash receptacles, park benches, and signage for businesses in the area are just a few of the creative ideas on the table. Storefront rehabilitations and pop-up animations will also be underway in the following year. While artists are busy beautifying the street, Glass House Collective will be convening residents and merchants of the area to create a vision for the future development of the district and for new streetscape design guidelines to visually define the area.

East Chattanooga’s Glass Street is lined with vacant 1920s storefronts and a newly formed organization with high hopes for the commercial corridor. Long-time residents recall when the area around the once-thriving Glass Street commercial corridor was filled with stores, banks and grocery stores. Glass House believes in the power of creativity. The role artists play as change agents is paramount to the collective’s short- and long-term ambitions.

“We believe the best way to gain momentum and start a community renewal effort is in a specific place,” said Glass House Collective’s Teal Thibaud. “Glass Street is of particular interest to us because we think its market position has been improved by the economic development projects at Enterprise South and its proximity to downtown.”

ArtPlace received almost 2,200 letters of inquiry from organizations seeking a portion of the $15.4 million available in grants in this cycle. Inquiries came from 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, U.S. Virgin Islands. The 47 projects selected each take a unique and locally-focused approach to creative placemaking, from the creation of a Jazz and Heritage Center in New Orleans’ historic Tremé neighborhood to generate vibrancy and economic growth for the local community to ARTSIPELAGO, a comprehensive revitalization strategy that combines a number of unconnected arts and cultural initiatives in Eastport, Maine for greater effect.

“These projects all exemplify the best in creative placemaking,” explained ArtPlace’s Carol Coletta. “They demonstrate a deep understanding of how smart investments in art, design, and culture as part of a larger portfolio of revitalization strategies can change the trajectory of communities and increase economic opportunities for people.”

In September, ArtPlace will release a new set of metrics to measure changes over time in the people, activity and real estate value in the communities where ArtPlace has invested with its grants.

Participating foundations include Bloomberg Philanthropies, The Ford Foundation, The James Irvine Foundation, The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, The McKnight Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation, Rasmuson Foundation, The Robina Foundation, The William Penn Foundation and an anonymous donor. In addition to the NEA, federal partners are the departments of Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services, Agriculture, Education and Transportation, along with leadership from the White House Office of Management and Budget and the Domestic Policy Council. ArtPlace is also supported by a $12 million loan fund capitalized by six major financial institutions and managed by the Nonprofit Finance Fund. Participating institutions are Bank of America, Citi, Deutsche Bank, Chase, MetLife and Morgan Stanley.

A complete list of this year’s ArtPlace awards can be found at artplaceamerica.org.