Maui Arts & Entertainment

$30K NEA grant supports Small Town * Big Art in Wailuku, Maui

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SMALL TOWN * BIG ART project in Wailuku town. PC: courtesy of the County of Maui

The National Endowment for the Arts has announced that Maui County has been approved for a $30,000 Grants for Arts Projects award to support its SMALL TOWN * BIG ART creative placemaking program in Wailuku Town and to make plans for countywide expansion.

“It’s an honor to be selected as an NEA grant recipient thanks to the visionary artists who joined SMALL TOWN * BIG ART over the past couple of years,” said Mayor Michael Victorino in a County of Maui issued press release.

“Art is a universal language that goes beyond words and it’s the community consultants who share their history, stories, scientific and spiritual knowledge of Wailuku and Na Wai Eha who help the artists express our true authentic community,” said Mayor Victorino.

He extended thanks to Erin Wade, the County’s Redevelopment Program Planner, and Hale Hōʻikeʻike at the Bailey House Museum/ Maui Historical Society and Maui Public Art Corps for the partnership.

Over the next two years, the grant will fund efforts to sustain and develop place-based, culturally rooted public art collaborations in Wailuku; design and implement public art activities in up to three new Maui County neighborhoods; andMahalo to Erin Wade, the County’s Redevelopment Program Planner, and Hale Hōʻikeʻike at the Bailey House Museum/ Maui Historical Society and Maui Public Art Corps for this winning partnership.

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“These grants underscore the resilience of our nation’s artists and arts organizations, will support efforts to provide access to the arts, and rebuild the creative economy,” said NEA Acting Chair Ann Eilers. “The supported projects demonstrate how the arts are a source of strength and well-being for communities and individuals and can open doors to conversations that address complex issues of our time.”

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The County of Maui’s grant was awarded in partnership with Hale Hōʻikeʻike at the Bailey House Museum/ Maui Historical Society and Maui Public Art Corps. The grant comes through the NEA’s Local Arts Agencies discipline, characterized as either departments of local government, nonprofit organizations, or hybrids of the two, that are actively engaged in community and artistic development.

SMALL TOWN * BIG ART project in Wailuku town. PC: courtesy of the County of Maui

Since its 2018 launch through an Our Town grant by the National Endowment for the Arts, SMALL TOWN * BIG ART has worked to create a way to integrate the arts into an economic revitalization plan for Wailuku, producing an evolving collection of temporary, public artwork that is created through community input and stories. Each work of art is inspired by a carefully selected proverb from Mary Kawena Pukui’s ‘Ōlelo No‘eau: Hawaiian Proverbs and Political Sayings — in a process that prioritizes place-based, visual and performing arts as an instrument for revitalization that celebrates the history, culture and sense of place of Wailuku.

To date, SMALL TOWN * BIG ART has successfully implemented public art projects with more than 200 community partners that have directly engaged 17,808 Wailuku participants. Virtual participation is consistently growing through a COVID-19 pivot strategy that has yielded 12 project documentaries designed to capture community impressions, ideas and context, as well as a 43-page interactive website and social media platform.

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This work is among 1,248 awards across America totaling $28.8 million that were selected to receive this first round of fiscal year 2022 funding in the Grants for Arts Projects category. It is one of 13 Hawaii-based grant recipients and one of three across Maui County.

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