Ponca City Main Street awarded grant for Arts, Culture District

Team Radio Marketing Group - August 31, 2017 2:07 pm

Ponca City Main Street Executive Director Chelsea McConnell announced Thursday that the Oklahoma Arts Council has awarded the Ponca City Main Street Program a $4,500 grant for the first year to help plan and develop an Arts and Culture District in downtown Ponca City.

Applicants may participate in the program for up to five years and receive a maximum of $25,000 in funding, McConnell said.

The Oklahoma Arts Council is the official state agency for the support and development of the arts in Oklahoma. While the Oklahoma Arts Council’s budget is less than 1/10th of 1 percent of the state government’s budget, the Council’s grants have a powerful multiplying effect, generating $13 in private matching dollars for every $1 granted, as of fiscal year 2014.

The tentative name for the newly formed district is the “Grand Arts District” or “GAD.” It will become one of many Arts and Culture districts in Oklahoma, including the Paseo Arts District in Oklahoma City, Enid Arts District, Brady Arts District in Tulsa and the Plaza District in Oklahoma City.

The grant is intended to incentivize new and relocating businesses, boost tourism, foster civic pride, enhance quality of life and attract and retain a well-educated and creative workforce to Ponca City, McConnell said.

“Ponca City already has an amazing downtown.  This grant will help us to strategically plan our Arts and Culture District to market our cultural assets to a wider audience, while also bringing more people to the table to find creative solutions to existing issues,” McConnell said. “We want to make our downtown as vibrant and full of activity as possible, and this grant will help us take a bold step towards planning that future.”

Many people contributed ideas and volunteer time to write the grant, and a Grand Arts District Vision Board has been established to oversee the District Development. The board includes representatives from a wide variety of industries, including artists, arts organizations, city government, educational institutions (primary, secondary and higher education), professional groups and downtown retail merchants.

“It has been so encouraging to see artists, nonprofit and business leaders, municipal officials, and many others come together to show their support for this Cultural District Initiative,” McConnell said.

More than 45 letters of support were submitted along with the grant application, including a signed letter from Gov. Mary Fallin stating her support.

“It is a pleasure to offer my endorsement for the creation of a Ponca City downtown Arts and Culture District with the aid of funding through a grant from the Oklahoma Arts Council’s Cultural District Development Program” Fallin wrote. “I applaud Ponca City Main Street’s efforts to devise an Arts and Culture District Development Plan that reflects an inclusive vision and strategy for Ponca City’s cultural and creative economy. This can be a wonderful public/private partnership.”

Many exciting things are coming to downtown, and all will contribute the success of the Grand Arts District. A new brewery, Vortex Alley Brewing, will be located in the district and will bring the local flavor of craft beer to downtown Ponca City. It is scheduled to open within the next few months.

Additionally, the newly awarded $1.275 million grant given to the Ponca City Development Authority is also great news for the Ponca City Arts and Culture District. The City Center building, with its large conference areas, shared work spaces and centralized location will be a huge asset to downtown.

The City Centrer building will be within the Arts and Culture district boundaries and has the potential to be the anchor for the entire district.

“The new City Center building will be a hub of innovation and creativity.  We are thrilled to have it located downtown,” McConnell said.

The state council approved the Cultural District Initiative grant in July and the Main Street Board met recently to approve the contract.

The Oklahoma Arts Council is the official state agency for the support and development of the arts. The agency’s mission is to lead in the advancement of Oklahoma’s thriving arts industry. The Oklahoma Arts Council provides approximately 450 grants to nearly 250 organizations in communities statewide each year, organizes professional development opportunities for the state’s arts and cultural industry, and manages works of art in the Oklahoma Public Art Collection and in the public spaces of the state Capitol. Additional information is available at arts.ok.gov.


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