2023 Grant from National Endowment for the Arts

Rocky Mountain Arts (RMA) is pleased to announce it has been approved by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to receive a Challenge America award of $10,000. The grant will support a Community Build Sculpture Project for youth. This grant is one of 262 Challenge America awards totaling $2.62 million that were announced by the NEA as part of its first round of fiscal year 2023 grants. We look forward to working with the NEA to finalize the grant details and appreciate the agency’s support.

“The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support arts projects in communities nationwide”, said NEA Chair Maria Rosario Jackson, PhD. “Projects such as this one with Rocky Mountain Arts strengthen arts and cultural ecosystems, provide equitable opportunities for arts participation and practice, and contribute to the health of our communities and our economy”.

“Rocky Mountain Arts is honored to be recognized with this NEA award that will allow us to reach youth in our region to collaborate with local sculptors, artists, and experts for this sculptural creation”, said Chris Myers, Board President.

Community Build Sculpture Project Details
Rocky Mountain Arts is creating a community sculpture build this year with the help of professional artists, architects, and builders. “We will work to inspire, teach, build self-confidence and offer all a place to express themselves during this creative process. Our goals are to reach the under-served communities in San Miguel and the West End of Montrose Counties to come together in the creation of a large-scale sculpture,” Explains Erin Ries, Executive Director.

This sculpture will ultimately be on permanent display. The plan is to obtain participation from youth and adults in Telluride, Norwood and the West End School Districts.

This program is free to all and RMA will provide all tools, materials, safety gear and lunch each program day. Additionally, RMA will provide  lodging and transportation for those who wish to participate but may be too far away for the commute.

Key Partners, Collaborators, Artists, Experts

True North Youth Program (TNYP)
True North serves the teen population in the rural San Juan Region. TNYP programs are available to all teens in the Norwood, Telluride and West End school districts and are free of charge. True North offers five year-round programs: (i) Workforce Preparedness and College Access including Scholarship Awards, (ii) Positive Youth Development through Outdoor Recreation, (iii) Community Service Learning, (iv) Academic Tutoring and Support, and (v) Rising Stars Summer Bridge Program. TNYP will work to help promote the program to teens as well as participate in a few of the build days.

Telluride Middle/High School (THS)
The Counseling Department at THS is collaborating on this project with the help of Alex Jones, High School Counselor. The school will offer the program to students, encourage participation, and provide outdoor space for the finished sculpture to be on display for a portion of the year.

Located in Naturita, CO, CampV’s mission to connect people, art, and community to ignite a spark in the historic mining town of Naturita fits with our vision for this project. The setting is the perfect place to complete the build and display the completed installation. CampV will help us bring together the surrounding rural communities to inspire connection and creativity.

CTC Communities That Care
Communities That Care (CTC) is collaborating on the project through resources they can contribute such as Spanish interpretation and translation, funds for childcare, food, and more. Said Ben Marshall, CTC Administrator: “This project fits with our mission to work alongside youth to develop programs to promote healthy and drug-free living.

Keith D’Angelo
Keith is a local artist who has produced many larger-than-life wood and interactive, propane fired sculptures for many of the previous Telluride Fire Festival. His public art installations are located in Aspen, Telluride, Carbondale, and Breckenridge. Keith is uniquely qualified to be one of our supporting artists as he has spent countless hours volunteering with underserved youth for his Master’s Degree.

Niel Ringstad
Originally from NYC, Niel is distinguished as a 35-year Telluride local, living for his first 10-years in a ski-bum shack of 72 square-feet. Niel is a graphic designer, an accomplished painter, and builder. He has built six towering sculptural works for the Telluride Fire Festival, which were cornerstones of the event. Niel is also deeply committed to giving back to his community. His community involvement has led to taking time out to help build a house in Norwood with Habitat For Humanity. His skills as a builder and artist make him perfectly qualified to be on our team.

Sherri Harvey
Sherri Harvey has 25 years’ experience in architecture. She has a Masters of Architecture degree from The Architectural Association School of Architecture in London, which is the oldest independent school of architecture in the UK and one of the most prestigious and competitive in the world. Her Bachelor of Architecture degree is from Penn State University. Sherri has two teenagers living with her in Telluride and believes in giving back to her community. She has served on the Historic & Architectural Review Commission for Telluride’s National Historic Landmark District for many years.

For more information on other projects included in the NEA’s grant announcement, visit arts.gov/news