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ASU School of Film, Dance and Theatre receives 2014 NEA grant for 'Story Days'

The ASU School of Film, Dance and Theatre is known for innovative, community-based, socially engaged artistic practice, including initiatives like Performance in the Borderlands, which presented Entre Mujeres in downtown Phoenix in November 2013.

Photo by Tim Trumble.

July 27, 2014

The Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture Public Art Program, in partnership with Friendly House and the ASU School of Film, Dance and Theatre in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, will receive a $100,000 National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Our Town grant.

The grants are awarded annually to fund innovative efforts to stimulate local economies and bolster community identity through the arts. Jane Chu, National Endowment for the Arts chair, announced that Phoenix is one of 66 communities from 38 states and the District of Columbia to be awarded $5.073 million in the Our Town program's fourth year of funding.

The Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture Public Art Program and grant partners will use the $100,000 to create "Story Days," a two-year series of story-based arts programs and events that explore the connections Phoenix residents have to their communities. The project will bring diverse communities together with writers and performers to highlight the forces that shape the meaning of place in Phoenix and its neighborhoods.

"This grant represents an extraordinary opportunity for both our students and the communities with whom they will be collaborating, a chance to help define a new kind of relationship between city and university," said Jake Pinholster, director of the ASU School of Film, Dance and Theatre.

The grant will enable the School of Film, Dance and Theatre and the Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture to select writers and performers to work directly with the Harmon Park, Matthew Henson and South Mountain communities, creating stories, poems and performances about community history and identity. The artists and community members involved in the project will present readings, performances and events at venues such as Friendly House and other sites throughout the city.

"Story Days" highlights Arizona State University's ambitious new program in community-based, socially-engaged artistic practice. It will bring art students, faculty, visiting artists and community residents together in common creative workshops.

“The Herberger Institute is committed to placing artists at the center of public life, and deploying the talent and creativity of our faculty and students to bring forward the powerful and passionate voices of all of our city’s residents,” said Steven J. Tepper, dean of the Herberger Institute. “This unique partnership with the city and the NEA highlights the power of socially-engaged arts practice to build and strengthen our local community.”

"Phoenix is excited to partner with the National Endowment for the Arts and our friends at ASU and Friendly House in this important community-building project,” said Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton. “This public art project will strengthen our local bonds and deepen our appreciation of our community and of each other."

The 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 is authentic and equitable, and that augments existing local assets.

“The 'Story Days' project demonstrates the best in creative community development, and will have valuable impact on its community,” said Chu. “Through Our Town funding, arts organizations continue to spark vitality that supports neighborhoods and public spaces, enhancing a sense of place for residents and visitors alike."

This is the second Our Town grant awarded to the Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture Public Art Program; the first grant was also in partnership with the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, for the Feast on the Street.

For more information about Phoenix’s Public Art Program, visit For more information about Friendly House,

Public Contact: 
Deborah Sussman Susser
Communications and Media

Media Contact:
Deborah Sussman Susser
Communications ad Media