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Former Near Westside restaurant to become arts hub, artist housing thanks to $400,000 ArtPlace grant

June 12, 2012

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The former Sherman’s Restaurant, located at 115 Otisco St. on Syracuse's Near Westside, will be transformed into a center for the arts, with artist studios, exhibition space and affordable housing, thanks to a $400,000 grant from ArtPlace. The grant is one of 47 ArtPlace has released to support creative placemaking initiatives in 33 communities nationwide.

The new project, called SALTQUARTERS, is the brainchild of the Near Westside Initiative, a collaboration in partnership with Syracuse University, Home HeadQuarters, the Syracuse Center of Excellence and many others. The 4,000-square-foot former restaurant space will house artists-in-residence and provide them with studio space, and will feature an art gallery at the front to showcase their work and the work of other local artists. By building on the existing talents and assets of the area, the Near Westside Initiative hopes to attract artists, musicians, businesses and entrepreneurs to the area, which sits in one of the more impoverished parts of New York state.

ArtPlace is a new national collaboration of 11 major national and regional foundations, six of the nation’s largest banks and eight federal agencies, including the National Endowment for the Arts, to accelerate creative placemaking across the United States. To date, ArtPlace has raised almost $50 million to work alongside federal and local governments to transform communities with strategic investments in the arts.

"Across the country, cities and towns are using the arts to help shape their social, physical and economic characters," says NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman. "The arts are a part of everyday life, and I am thrilled to see yet another example of an arts organization working with city, state and federal offices to help strengthen and revitalize their communities through the arts. It is wonderful that ArtPlace and its funders have recognized this work and invested in it so generously."

“We are thrilled to have this opportunity, thanks to ArtPlace, to bring an artist-in-residence program to the Near Westside neighborhood,” says Near Westside Initiative Director Maarten Jacobs. “It will build on the already bustling arts community here, and will further enliven the streets by having the studio spaces and gallery on the first floor, and open to the public. SALTQUARTERS will cement the Near Westside as the new epicenter of art in Syracuse.”

“Through this ArtPlace grant, a vacant building on the Near Westside will become a vibrant community space,” says Chancellor Nancy Cantor. “We are excited about the opportunity to leverage the arts to further strengthen and transform the Near Westside neighborhood.”

ArtPlace received almost 2,200 letters of inquiry from organizations seeking a portion of the $15.4 million available for grants in this cycle. Inquiries came from 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, American Samoa and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The 47 projects selected each take a unique and locally focused approach to creative placemaking, from the creation of a Jazz and Heritage Center in New Orleans’ historic Tremé neighborhood to generate vibrancy and economic growth for the local community to ARTSIPELAGO, a comprehensive revitalization strategy that combines a number of unconnected arts and cultural initiatives in Eastport, Me., for greater effect.

“These projects all exemplify the best in creative placemaking,” explains ArtPlace’s Carol Coletta. “They demonstrates a deep understanding of how smart investments in art, design and culture, as part of a larger portfolio of revitalization strategies, can change the trajectory of communities and increase economic opportunities for people.”

In September, ArtPlace will release a new set of metrics to measure changes over time in the people, activity and real estate value in the communities where ArtPlace has invested with its grants.

Participating foundations include Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Ford Foundation, the James Irvine Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, the McKnight Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, Rasmuson Foundation, the Robina Foundation and an anonymous donor.

In addition to the NEA, federal partners are the departments of Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services, Agriculture, Education and Transportation, along with leadership from the White House Office of Management and Budget and the Domestic Policy Council. ArtPlace is also supported by a $12 million loan fund capitalized by six major financial institutions and managed by the Nonprofit Finance Fund. Participating institutions are Bank of America, Citi, Deutsche Bank, Chase, MetLife and Morgan Stanley.

A complete list of this year’s ArtPlace awards can be found at

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