Louisville Awarded ArtPlace America Grant

June 25, 2014

Louisville is receiving 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. 

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)