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County Receives Grant for Nauck Public Art

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) announced 59 “Our Town” grant awards totaling more than $4.7 million, and an Arlington project is among the recipients.

Arlington Economic Development-Arlington Public Art has been granted $75,000 to develop a public art project in the planned Nauck Town Square, which is intended to be the anchor for the Nauck Village Center. The County Board must give final approval for the grant as a formality, and that’s expected in September.

“The residents of the Nauck Community are truly thankful to the National Endowment of the Arts for their grant to assist us in planning a Town Square where all can enjoy its benefits and especially learn the history of Arlington County’s oldest African American community dating back to 1844,” said Nauck Civic Association President Dr. Alfred O. Taylor, Jr.

The NEA received 254 applications from across the country for this year’s Our Town grants. Grant amounts ranged from $25,000 to $200,000 with a median grant amount of $50,000.

“It’s very competitive. We’re very excited to be one of 59 chosen from across the country,” said Public Art Administrator Angela Adams.

The Lucky Seven store, which closed after a fire last year, previously occupied the site but was torn down earlier this year. The county had purchased the property at 2406 S. Shirlington Road in 2010 for $1.4 million.

The square eventually will take up the entire block between 24th Road South and South Shirlington Road. The county website says, “It will serve as a gathering place for residents to host a variety of community events and an area to showcase the neighborhood’s rich cultural heritage with its collection of public art.”

Arlington Public Art has commissioned landscape architect and artist Walter Hood to devise the plaza’s final design. Hood will engage Nauck residents and community leaders in the design process to create a plaza that tells the story of the Nauck community and its heritage. Adams credits Hood’s involvement as one of the reasons the NEA considered Arlington for the grant.

“I think that what we’re going to get with Walter’s involvement is a very sophisticated design that continues to make great public spaces here looking contemporary and fresh, but also reflective of the community,” said Adams. “The Nauck community has waited a long time for this.”

Community meetings to discuss the design of the project are expected to start this fall and go into next year. Construction is expected to begin in 2015.

“The County is looking forward to engaging Nauck residents and community leaders in the process of designing the plaza and art elements,” said Helen Duong with the Arlington County Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development.

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