“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.”
County of Maui's grant, in partnership with Hale Hōʻikeʻike at the Bailey House Museum/ Maui Historical Society and Maui Public Art Corps, is 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.
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 tangible 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 inspired by a carefully selected proverb from Mary Kawena Pukui's ‘Ōlelo No‘eau: Hawaiian Proverbs and Poetical 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 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. Visit smalltownbig.org for more.
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 3 across Maui County.
For more information on other projects included in the Arts Endowment grant announcement, visit arts.gov/news.