PIQUA — The Piqua Arts Council has recently received a Challenge America grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), which was established by Congress in 1965.
Since that time, they have been a catalyst of public and private support for the arts by fostering and sustaining an environment in which the arts benefit everyone in the United States.
The Challenge America program, started by the NEA in 2023, offers support to small organizations for projects that extend the reach of the arts to under served groups and communities. Programs must have a total budget of over $20,000 to qualify for one of the $10,000 awards. Piqua Arts Council applied for this heavily competitive grant and was selected as one of 257 Challenge America recipients across the country.
“The NEA is delighted to announce this grant to Piqua Arts Council, which is helping contribute to the strength and well-being of the arts sector and local community,” said National Endowment for the Arts Chair Maria Rosario Jackson, Ph.D., said in a press release. “We are pleased to be able to support this community and help create an environment where all people have the opportunity to live artful lives.”
“We could not be more excited to put this money to work in our community,” Piqua Arts Council Executive Director Jordan Knepper said, in the release. “Piqua Arts Council is one of only seven Ohio arts organizations to receive this award. Ohio Arts Council funds 900 unique arts organizations per year, meaning fewer than 1% of Ohio arts organizations were awarded a grant from this program by the NEA”.
Piqua Arts Council’s award will be used to help fund their Professional Workshops for Artists. The lack of professional development opportunities in rural Ohio is a major issue for artists looking to develop their skills and increase the quality of their craft. This program features three workshops annually taught by nationally and internationally recognized artists. Focusing on watercolors, pastels, and oil paintings, each workshop is a four-days and attracts artists from all over the country.
“Our workshop program has been hugely successful,” Knepper said. “We modeled it off something that was taking place at Botkins High School when my father was the art teacher there. We continue to improve the program to meet the needs of our area artists, but the demand for these workshops extends beyond our region. We’ve had participants from as far away as Washington State, Oregon and California. We’ve even had an international participant from Costa Rica join us, more than once. This is just one way that Piqua Arts Council is building a community”.
For more information on the Piqua Arts Council’s professional workshop program, visit piquaartscouncil.org/workshops. For more information on other projects included in the NEA’s grant announcement, visit arts.gov/news.