©2015, Thunder Valley CDC / Photo by Willi White
PINE RIDGE INDIAN RESERVATION—The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has announced financial support for the design of powwow grounds, studio spaces, and artist live/work space at a new regenerative development site on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation through the Our Town award.
New cultural facilities will be created with the guidance of local artisans and will provide much needed space for Oglala Sioux tribal members—half of whom are under 25 years of age—to exercise their creativity, develop new skills, and establish new artisan businesses. Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation (Thunder Valley CDC) will lead the project activities, in partnership with the Oglala Sioux Tribe, First People’s Fund, and ArtSpace Projects, Inc.
“As in every stage in the Regenerative Community Development, we want to involve key stakeholders in our community from the beginning,” says Nick Tilsen, Executive Director of Thunder Valley CDC. “With these funds we will create an Artist Advisory Board from artists in the community to inform the decisions we make. We will also reach out to young artists in the community to ensure a multigenerational ownership of this process. And, in return we will build the skills and capacity of these local artists so that they are fully equipped to become entrepreneurs in these new community spaces.”
NEA Chairman Jane Chu announced a total of 69 Our Town awards across multiple project areas, totaling almost $5 million nationally, through the Our Town program’s fifth year of funding. Design and cultural planning projects, like those being developed by Thunder Valley CDC, will support systems and infrastructure necessary for regional community development to succeed.
For this community, $75,000 will be designated to support creative placemaking on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation that will help to build a lively, beautiful, artful and resilient place to live.
“Thunder Valley CDC 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.”
The fifth anniversary of Our Town also marks important milestones for the NEA’s work with federal partners to advance a multifaceted approach to community development in high-need communities. Thunder Valley CDC is located on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and is one of the Our Town awardees within a designated Promise Zone—an initiative managed by HUD and USDA to support high poverty communities where the federal government partners with local leaders to increase economic activity, enhance public health, develop educational opportunities, and the development priorities the community.
Our Town projects also demonstrate how arts and culture can impact a range of community priorities, including economic development, environmental resiliency, at-risk youth and entrepreneurship programs, and use of public spaces as artists, designers, arts organizations, and local leaders collaborate on innovative projects that help build stronger communities and improve the quality of life for residents.
“The arts reveal the heart and soul of our nation,” said Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Julían Castro. “We’re proud to work with the NEA to create neighborhoods of opportunity where culture is honored and creativity can flourish. Together with our partners, we’ll give more Americans the chance to experience life in a vibrant and thriving community.”