Creative Innovation Zone Press Conference

Photographs by Alexa Pence courtesy of Nfocus Magazine

Louisville, KY Awarded $250,000 ArtPlace America Grant to Fund Creative Innovation Zone

Louisville received a $250,000 national arts grant to develop a unique Creative Innovation Zone (CIZ) to fuel citizen engagement in the Smoketown neighborhood. The CIZ will advance economic, educational and environmental infrastructure development in the Smoketown community by placing artist/innovators in advisory and supporting roles in revitalization efforts. The initiative is a partnership between IDEAS 40203, YouthBuild Louisville, and other community partners.

“This is an exciting opportunity to directly engage and empower new and returning residents of Smoketown,” Mayor Greg Fischer said. “The ArtPlace America grant and the Creative Innovation Zone will help fund and add to the resurgence and momentum already happening through the HOPE VI revitalization that is rapidly unfolding at Sheppard Square, which will have a ripple effect throughout adjoining neighborhoods.”

From nearly 1300 applications nationwide, IDEAS 40203 and YouthBuild Louisville’s CIZ was one of only 55 projects selected by ArtPlace America to receive its prestigious creative placemaking grants in 2014 – less than 0.5% of all applications.

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Smoketown, located in zip code 40203, is Louisville’s first-established African American neighborhood with a history of thriving business and industry. The Sheppard Square housing project was constructed In the 1940s. By 2010, zip code 40203 was ranked the 13th poorest zip code in the United States.

In 2011, Sheppard Square was demolished by the Louisville Metro Housing Authority through a federal HOPE VI grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. This made way for a $100 million development project creating new energy-efficient, mixed-income housing, thus accelerating the need for new infrastructure development.

The CIZ will pioneer new ways for artist/innovators and community to work together to create new opportunities in education, environmental design, and entrepreneurial activity leading to jobs.

The Quality of Life Action Plan developed by New Directions Housing Corporation in 2010-11, along with 300 Smoketown residents, identified Education, Greenspaces, and Jobs as “pillars” upon which they wanted to build the community. CIZ uses these pillars as the framework for establishing the CIZ’s artist/innovator residency program.

The CIZ is located between E. Broadway, S. Shelby St., E. Breckenridge St. and Floyd St., with multiple locations serving as the gathering spaces, studios, business incubators, apprentice training facilities, and community educational centers.

Creative Innovation Zone Partners:

Application Partners:
IDEAS 40203 (Lead applicant)
YouthBuild Louisville (Fiscal agent)

Key Partners:
The Residents of Smoketown
Louisville Metro Commission on Public Art
Louisville Metro Housing Authority
Louisville Metro Department of Economic Growth and Innovation
Kentuckians for the Commonwealth
Kertis Creative
GE FirstBuild
Residency Unlimited (Brooklyn, NY – IDEAS 40203′s Sister Organization)

About IDEAS 40203
International Dialogue and Engagement Art Space + Zip Code is a 501(c)(6) contemporary art chamber of commerce – an artist-led/entrepreneur-focused, community-based association promoting new forms of economic development and positive social change. IDEAS 40203 is redefining what a chamber of commerce can be and do in the 21st Century by focusing on creativity as the fuel of innovation and people as Louisville’s greatest asset.

About YouthBuild Louisville
YouthBuild Louisville’s mission is to champion young people to be great citizens who build productive lives and sustainable communities. YBL capitalizes on the positive energy of young adults focusing in five areas: education, career vocational training, community service, social services and career development and placement. Youth split their time between the construction site and the classroom, where they earn their GED or high school diploma, learn to be community leaders and prepare for jobs or college.

About ArtPlace America
Click Here for a full list of 2014 ArtPlace America Creative Placemaking grant recipients!

ArtPlace America (ArtPlace) advances the field of creative placemaking, in which art and culture plays an explicit and central role in shaping communities’ social, physical, and economic futures. To date, ArtPlace has awarded $56.8 million through 189 grants to projects serving 122 communities across 42 states and the District of Columbia.

ArtPlace is a collaboration among the Barr Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, The Ford Foundation, The James Irvine Foundation, The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, The McKnight Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The William Penn Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation, Rasmuson Foundation, The Surdna Foundation, and two anonymous donors.

ArtPlace seeks advice and counsel from its close working relationships with the following federal agencies: the National Endowment for the Arts, the US Departments of Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services, Agriculture, Education, and Transportation, along with leadership from the White House Office of Management and Budget and the Domestic Policy Council.

ArtPlace has additional partnership from six major financial institutions: Bank of America, Citi, Deutsche Bank, Chase, MetLife and Morgan Stanley.

Learn more about the Creative Innovation Zone at
Contact Theo Edmonds and Josh Miller (IDEAS 40203) with questions.
502.637.2922  |

————————-The Urban-Rural Kentucky Connection——————–

Today, ArtPlace America also awarded The River Arts Greenway in Hazard, KY, a $50,000 grant.  The Hazard and Louisville project teams have been collaborating for the past several months with the intent of forming a true urban-rural approach to creative placemaking in Kentucky.

With coordination support from the Kentucky Arts Council, IDEAS 40203 and YouthBuild Louisville are thrilled to have the opportunity to work with the Hazard group, to support each other’s projects and to learn from each other.  We are all one Kentucky.  By awarding both grants simultaneously, ArtPlace America has given Kentucky the opportunity to take a leadership role in pioneering new paradigms for urban-rural creative placemaking collaboration strategies.

More about The River Arts Greenway project can be found below. 

Hazard, KY (population 5,500) is part of the federal government’s southeast Kentucky Promise Zone designation. Hazard’s River Arts Greenway Project will develop land along the north fork of the Kentucky River that is located in the heart of the city’s historic downtown. Pathfinders of Perry County, the project’s lead partner, is engaging artists in the completion of the design for the development, which will incorporate landscape design, public art, and spaces for performance and temporary installations alongside community and ornamental gardens and a walking path.

Once the Greenway is open, Pathfinders will lead programming throughout the space, including a welding rodeo where artists and coal miners collaborate on making sculpture out of scrap and reclaimed materials. The project will reimagine and repurpose an underutilized parking structure. Pathfinders also will create a youth, peer-exchange program with Louisville, KY.

Throughout the project, Pathfinders will work closely with InVision Hazard, the city’s citizen-led downtown revitalization initiative to foster innovative, capacity-building experiments in the arts and social entrepreneurship, including a community leadership institute that engages young emerging community leaders. Participants in the leadership program, developed in partnership with Eastern Kentucky University, will design and launch their own small-scale entrepreneurial projects, several of which likely will take place in the Greenway space and draw upon the new WealthWorks economic development model that identifies eight types of community capital.

Grant Application Partners:
Pathfinders of Perry County, KY
Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky (Fiscal agent)

Primary Implementation Partners:
City of Hazard
Perry County Fiscal Court
Hazard Perry Chamber of Commerce
InVision Hazard
Hazard Community and Technical College
Epicentre Arts
Community Farm Alliance



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