The City of Natchitoches has been approved for a $50,000 Our Town award from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to support the redesign of the Ben D. Johnson Park located at 625 Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. This is one of 57 grants nationwide, totaling $4,175,000, that the NEA has approved in the Our Town category. These creative place-making grants support projects that integrate arts, culture, and design activities into local efforts to strengthen and authentically engage communities, center equity, advance artful lives, and lay the groundwork for long-term systems change.
“The National Endowment for the Arts is pleased to support a wide range of projects, including the City of Natchitoches Ben D. Johnson Park Redesign, demonstrating the many ways the arts enrich our lives and contribute to healthy and thriving communities,” said NEA Chair Maria Rosario Jackson, PhD. “These organizations play an important role in advancing the creative vitality of our nation and helping to ensure that all people can benefit from arts, culture, and design.”
The City of Natchitoches, in partnership with the Cane River National Heritage Area, will lead a 12-month collaborative community engagement and planning process to develop a vision for the redesign of the City’s Ben D. Johnson Park and ultimately produce a final design for the new park. The planning and design efforts will make tangible connections to the City’s new Welcome Center and African American Cultural Center and will envision the redesigned BDJ Park as a place for community and historical programming.
“The project will invite a broad range of community members and residents to identify and build upon our unique assets, culture, and history to develop a place that benefits the entire community, but especially our traditionally disadvantaged and underserved neighborhoods,” said Mayor Ronnie Williams, Jr.
“This project will also capitalize on our community’s shared identity to stimulate economic development; highlight amenities; provide equitable access to opportunities around the arts, education, and employment; and attract entrepreneurs and visitors to make Natchitoches a multi-cultural hub of entertainment and trade.”
For more information on the projects included in the Arts Endowment grant announcement, visit arts.gov/news.