Zuni Children Working
Zuni children working on a placemaking exercise.
Credit: CRP Zuni MainStreet studio

University of New Mexico School of Architecture and Planning is one of 38 recipients of ArtPlace America’s 2015 National Grants Program, announced recently. ArtPlace, one of the nation’s largest philanthropies dedicated to creative placemaking, is investing $225,000 in the Pueblo of Zuni to further integrate arts and culture into the field of community planning and development.

In 2012, Zuni became the first tribe in the nation to become a MainStreet community. They chose the Indigenous Design and Planning Institute (iDPi) in the UNM School of Architecture and Planning, to assist them. The success of that effort has garnered national recognition.

iDPi's partners are the Zuni Pueblo MainStreet Program, Creative Startups, Zuni Visitor Center, Zuni Public Schools, the A:shiwi A:wan Museum and two longstanding Zuni Arts associations.

“I am delighted to announce that the work of the Indigenous Design and Planning Institute has been recognized and validated by a prestigious grant from a national philanthropic initiative," said SA&P Dean Geraldine Forbes Isais. "This award from ArtPlace America is wonderful news. Students and faculty involved in the institute will work together with local artisans to design and development a cultural streetscape. It is their shared goal to design a wonderful marketplace that will promote economic development in the community.”

ArtPlace selected iDPi from a pool of nearly 1,300 applicants. The Zuni Pueblo’s population is 96 percent American Indian with arts production one of the community’s main sources of income. Despite the large number of artists and makers, no designated space exists for them to sell their wares. Zuni MainStreet is home to an informal, cash economy that undervalues artists’ products.

"This grant allows iDPi to continue its work on the Zuni MainStreet plan," said Distinguished and Regents' Professor Ted Jojola, who is also the director of indigenous Design + Planning institute. "It is a wonderful project and the working collaborations will not only benefit Zuni, but any other tribal community that is attempting to reimagine how modernized byways can be built in their image and still serve the local and public interests. The placemaking ideas will be informed by the voices of artists and locals as they rethink the role of art and community development."

Students at the Indigenous Design and Planning Institute (iDPi) in the UNM School of Architecture and Planning, give a presentation designed to further integrate arts and culture into the field of community planning and development for Zuni Pueblo. In 2012, Zuni became the first tribe in the nation to become a MainStreet community.

The current main street design also risks the safety of both sellers and customers alike as visitors and sellers are required to conduct business on the side of a major thoroughfare. A series of community-wide planning events and designbuild activities will help local artists, planners and leaders build a cultural streetscape that serves as a functional and inviting marketplace.

Zuni Tribal Governor Val Panteah said, “The Pueblo of Zuni fully endorses our Zuni Pueblo MainStreet’s efforts and its partnership with UNM iDPi and is thrilled to be a recipient of this important award from ArtPlace America. This grant will enable us to better support our community’s artists and arts-based economy. We look forward to great things in our coming future."

ArtPlace Executive Director Jamie L. Bennett said, “Investing in and supporting the arts have a profound impact on the social, physical and economic futures of communities,. Projects like these demonstrate how imaginative and committed people are when it comes to enhancing their communities with creative interventions and thoughtful practices.”

"The National Grants Program is actively building a portfolio that touches each of the sectors and stakeholders that make up the community development field,” said ArtPlace’s Director of National Grantmaking F. Javier Torres. “Last year, ArtPlace developed a community development matrix to help us better evaluate our success on this front. So, we're thrilled that this year's 38 grantees represent a dynamic spectrum of creative approaches and partnerships in community development that expand the dimensions of our portfolio."

This year’s ArtPlace America grantees were selected from nearly 1,300 applicants across 48 states and the District of Columbia. Grants range from $50,000 to $500,000 with an average of $265,000.

“Each one of these grants supports a geographic community: a collection of people who live, work, and play within a defined circle on a map. In each case, a community development challenge or opportunity was identified by local stakeholders; and these 38 grantees are serving as conduits for their community's desires by leading arts-based solutions through their projects,” Torres said.

 To view the complete list of 2015 ArtPlace grantees, go to www.artplaceamerica.org.