Word art from SACA/MU project.

A project between South Central PaARTners at Millersville University (MU) and the Spanish American Civic Association (SACA) will bring community-based arts programming to the Southeast neighborhood of Lancaster City. The project is thanks to a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts (PCA). The SACA/MU project is one of four selected from more than 100 applicants for the pilot phase of the agency’s Creative Communities Initiative (CCI). Each project will receive $25,000 annually for a period of four years.

“We haven’t sketched out the specifics yet, but we are planning to bring MU faculty in to run pop-up workshops on music, art and history aimed at bridging cultures within the Southeast while building on neighborhood pride and investment,” says Marci Nelligan, Program Manager for South Central PaARTners at MU. “Students could certainly be a part of this. Because the projects are community driven, we don’t yet know what they will involve, but we’ll be striving to connect the University and students whenever possible.”

Nelligan says since this is a four-year program, the university/student connections will undoubtedly evolve over time. “I would love to see students studying the project itself, which will be supported by a robust set of measurement and evaluation tools from consultants working with the state. And I would love to see MU using this as a way to encourage and facilitate kids in the neighborhood going on to attend college.”

The program will employ a team of artists representing the Latino, African American and refugee residents in the community to plan and create public art projects, performing arts events and community arts education projects. The CCI was designed to support community arts projects to serve as a stimulant for livability, economic development and connecting communities.

“The PCA’s Creative Communities Initiative is an exciting opportunity for community and economic development and creative industries across Pennsylvania to collaborate on work that will benefit the priorities and identities of our cities and towns,” said Gov. Tom Wolf. “I look forward to seeing how these innovative projects create a lasting mark on their communities.”

“Arts-based community and economic development projects help foster community member’s sense of belonging and deepen their connection to where they live,” said Karl Blischke, executive director of the PCA. “These projects nurture, support and celebrate local artists and highlight their invaluable contributions to healthy, vibrant, livable communities.

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