City of Paducah and WKCTC Awarded National Endowment for the Arts Grant for Proposed Art Park

Date release:  May 9, 2018

NEA logoOne of 60 NEA Projects Selected Nationwide

West Kentucky Community and Technical College and the City of Paducah partnered together for an Our Town grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and have been awarded $25,000 for a proposed art park adjacent to the College’s Paducah School of Art & Design (PSAD).

NEA’s Our Town program encourages local partnerships that integrate design and the arts into the fabric of the community and that serve as a vehicle for economic revitalization. The grant, which is for design and planning of an interactive art park, requires a one-to-one match.

Paducah Junior College Inc. (PJC), WKCTC’s foundation, will match the NEA grant funds for a total of $50,000 for the planned art park to be created in the empty lots adjacent to PSAD’s 2D and Graphic Design Building at 905 Harrison Street.

“We’re delighted that ongoing collaboration with the City of Paducah will further enhance arts education in our region, while continuing to revitalize a formerly deteriorating area into a thriving arts locale,” said WKCTC President Dr. Anton Reece. “We appreciate the efforts of all those involved in securing this grant, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Representative James Comer, who championed the project on behalf of the College, the Paducah Area Chamber of Commerce, and the City of Paducah. We are deeply appreciative to Senator McConnell and Representative Comer for their support in helping bring this grant to fruition.”

“I was proud to support West Kentucky Community and Technical College’s application to secure the necessary funds to foster the cultural heritage of this region,” said Senator McConnell. “By using the school’s available public space, the entire Paducah community can enjoy the benefits of the Interactive Art Park. In addition, WKCTC students can utilize the skills they learn to continue to support the city’s economic growth and artistic experience,” he said.

Congressman Comer agreed and added, “I look forward to the lasting impact of this creative center, which will create a public forum to enrich and facilitate artistic discussion, inspiration and creation for generations of local artists and further solidify this deserving city as a cultural hub in western Kentucky.”

The PJC Board of Directors approved matching funds upon application of the grant last fall. “Many corporate and individual donors have invested generously in PSAD, and this opportunity builds upon those investments,” said Lee Emmons, PJC executive director. “The foundation sees this project as an investment not only in education, but in economic development as well, and we are excited to be a part of it.”

The three vacant lots are located at Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and 10th Street and can become a community park with rotating art exhibits and features that engage the community year-round.

“I am grateful that the National Endowment for the Arts is providing this funding which will help advance our local creative capacity,” said Paducah Mayor Brandi Harless. “Furthermore, I applaud West Kentucky Community & Technical College for developing a vision for these lots that will enhance the Lower Town neighborhood and the entryway to the Paducah School of Art & Design.”

PSAD director Paul Aho said the design process will consider the physical and cultural aspects of the site and contribute to other public assets within the community. “This planning grant will allow WKCTC to engage the services of a pool of artists and artist teams from around the country to present their vision for what might become of this property as a public resource, point of entry into Paducah’s downtown, and enhancement to the art school campus.”

WKCTC and the City are one of 60 NEA Our Town grants approved nationwide totaling $4.1 million to support projects that will have a positive, innovative impact on the community, together with their arts and design organizations and artists, to improve their quality of life and encourage creative activity.

NEA Chairman Jane Chu said the variety and quality of the Our Town projects speaks to the wealth of creativity and diversity in our country. “Through the work of organizations such as the Paducah School of Art & Design in Paducah, Ky., NEA funding invests in local communities, helping people celebrate the arts wherever they are,” Chu said.

For a complete list of projects recommended for Our Town grant support, please visit the NEA web site at arts.gov.

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West Kentucky Community and Technical College (WKCTC) has been recognized as an Aspen Prize Top 10 Community College each of the four times the Prize has been awarded by the Aspen Institute and has twice been named a Finalist with Distinction for providing students with strong job training and continuing higher education opportunity, for achieving high completion and transfer rates, and for providing strong employment results for its graduates.