ArtPlace America announced the Region Five Development Commission is one of 29 projects chosen, from almost 1,400 applications, to receive funding through its National Creative Placemaking Fund in 2016.

ArtPlace America awarded $440,000 to the Region Five Development Commission to support an economic development opportunity that uses culinary, functional and nonfunctional art installations and experiences intended to make Sprout Growers and Makers Marketplace in Little Falls a destination as well as representing the unique cultural diversity of central Minnesota.

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Sprout Growers and Makers Marketplace is a newly constructed 20,000-square-foot local food processing facility, cooking demonstration kitchen and indoor winter marketplace for growers and makers, established by a cadre of thinkers over the last six years who hosted its grand opening April 1.

Sprout Marketplace offers a unique community engagement setting that creatively engages residents to design projects and intrinsic/social programming at a one-of-a-kind regional space where art/culture/food increase cultural appreciation and offer positive economic impacts, a news release stated.

"Our opportunities include cultural appreciation and alignment of arts and food sectors that can be enjoyed by all residents as well as increased economic prosperity through access and awareness of underserved growers and makers of the region," stated Arlene Jones, manager and founder of Sprout, in the release.

"The project involves committed culinary and culturally diverse artists in many areas-visual, dance, film, folk and music-showing that addressing economic prosperity can be done in ways that improve social cohesion, and this regional opportunity does just that," stated Cheryal Hills, executive director of Region Five, in the release.

"A variety of works funded through the ArtPlace support including traditional, contemporary, sculptural, interactive or collaborative art will be utilized to share stories, deepen experiences and to enhance additional purchases of food and art at the Sprout Marketplace," stated local artist Heidi Jeub in the release.

What will this effort deliver?

• Commissioned art: Project core team members from Sprout, Region Five Development Commission, The Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, 3 Cheers Hospitality, the Latino Economic Development Corporation and local grower artists with trusted relationships within grower, Amish and Somali communities, will meet with culturally diverse communities to prioritize commissioned art that will reside at the Sprout Marketplace to allow for ongoing conversation and appreciation of diverse cultural heritage.

• Art demonstrations: In addition to commissioned art from culturally diverse artists, grant funds will support performing artists and artist demonstrations coordinated for general public on open marketplace dates.

• Multicultural culinary art demonstration and cooking classes: Core team members will engage regional culinary artists/chefs to set cooking demonstrations and cooking classes of heritage recipes, alongside community members.

• Business classes: Growers and artists will set forth a schedule of learning opportunities, such as succession planning, that increase economic prosperity.

"Deployment of a variety of art forms selected to address economic development offers mutually beneficial impacts," the release stated. "Artists partner with local growers at Sprout Marketplace to increase economic benefits and livable wages for both. All activities improve the region's way of doing business, create an improved ecosystem that collectively provides new experiences for residents to financially prosper, and welcome all residents to participate and learn from each other in ways that inspire future initiatives."

ArtPlace America's National Creative Placemaking Fund is a highly competitive national program-funding 2 percent of initial applications-that invests money in communities across the country in which artists, arts organizations, and arts and culture activity will help drive community development. The organization specifically looks to fund development projects in the sectors of agriculture and food, economic development, education and youth, environment and energy, health, housing, immigration, public safety, transportation or workforce development.

"Creative placemaking seeks the full and robust integration of arts, culture and community-engaged design into the decisions that define the ebb and flow of community life," stated Rip Rapson, president and CEO of The Kresge Foundation and chair of the ArtPlace President's Council, in a news release. "These grant recipients embody what this looks like at its most effective best. The sheer volume of applications for these grants suggests the growing updraft of creative placemaking efforts throughout the nation."

"We are absolutely thrilled to be adding this dynamic set of projects to our portfolio this year," stated F. Javier Torres, director of national grantmaking, in the release. "The thoughtful and innovative strategies in this year's projects are truly indicative of the vital role that artists and arts and culture organizations play in strengthening local policy, and the social, physical, and economic fabric of communities."

ArtPlace America is a 10-year collaboration among 16 partner foundations, along with eight federal agencies and six financial institutions, that works to position arts and culture as a core sector of comprehensive community planning and development to help strengthen the social, physical and economic fabric of communities.