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2 Austin creative projects just landed some major national cash

Austin Photo Set: News_Shelley_thinkEAST_sept 2012_rendering
The thinkEAST project on East Seventh received a $400,000 grant from ArtPlace America on Wednesday. Photo courtesy of Richard deVarga
Austin Photo Set: News_Shelley_thinkEAST_sept 2012_rendering2
Meant as a multi-use complex of affordable housing for artists along with space for learning and exhibitions, thinkEAST is looking to become a major creative district in Austin. Photo courtesy of Richard deVarga
Austin Photo Set: News_Shelley_thinkEAST_sept 2012_rendering
Austin Photo Set: News_Shelley_thinkEAST_sept 2012_rendering2

On Wednesday, two ambitious local art projects received a national grant to support their efforts in Austin’s creative community.

The City of Austin’s Economic Development Project announced that ArtPlace America, a collaboration between leading national and regional foundations, federal agencies and banks, awarded $656,000 to local creative initiatives. Drawing Lines will receive $256,500, while thinkEAST projects have been awarded $400,000.

Drawing Lines is a public-private partnership between the City’s Cultural Arts Division, GO Collaborative and local nonprofits that will send artists into the 10 newly created city council districts to meet with local residents. After gaining a sense of the community over the course of 12 months, the artists will then collaborate to create a public exhibition of cultural asset maps for future city planning.

Just as Drawing Lines seeks to celebrate Austin neighborhoods, thinkEAST is looking to create a neighborhood of its very own.

Announced in 2012, the thinkEAST Living Charrette is a planned affordable housing development that is part of a 24-acre cultural district near the East Seventh Street Gateway Corridor where artists can live, work, study, and exhibit and perform their works. The project’s manager, Robert Summers, tells CultureMap that when completed, the entire project could reach a price tag of $100 million. Though the ArtPlace grant may seem like a drop in the bucket, Summers says it will focus on a particular aspect of thinkEAST.

“Most of our funding will come through bank lending, investors and such,” explains Summers. The $400,000 grant is meant to help fund a temporary event space for the 2015 edition of the Fusebox Festival. “Fusebox leaders will be able to come in to the run up of the festival and see how visiting artists can come and stay at thinkEAST temporarily.”

The temporary community during the festival will serve as a prototype of what a permanent mixed-use creative community might look like at thinkEAST. “The grant helps us deliver a master plan and business plan for the project,” says Summers. “We can then look into how we present thinkEAST to businesses and explore the opportunity for co-op ownership.”

Work on infrastructure for thinkEAST is set to begin in July and phase one of the apartments is expected to be completed in 2015.

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