Arts-based Community Development Investment for the Hi-line

Opportunity Link has been selected by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to receive $100,000 for a creative placemaking project to support vibrant rural and tribal communities in Northcentral Montana with the arts at their core. Opportunity Link will receive $100,000 to plan a Hi-Line Arts Trail and commission public art.

Contact: Andi Daniel,, 406-265-3699 for more information.  

NEA Chairman Jane Chu announced 69 Our Town awards totaling almost $5 million through the Our Town program’s fifth year of funding. The NEA received 275 applications for Our Town this year and will make grants ranging from $25,000 to $200,000. Since the program’s inception in 2011 and including these projects, the NEA will have awarded 325 Our Town grants totaling almost $26 million in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia.

Opportunity Link’s funding is intended to promote Western and Native American arts, both traditional and contemporary, across 10 rural counties and 2 Indian reservations. The project will engage artists, government officials, and residents to identify arts assets and public art opportunities; establish a network and business support for artists; create a mobile app to help visitors locate art; and boost art education. Public art will also be commissioned and installed. Opportunity Link, Hill County, and art partners will promote arts as a defining characteristic of the region. The art trail will serve 150,000 regional residents and tourists over 31,000 square miles.

“Opportunity Link demonstrates the best in creative community development and whose work will have a valuable impact on its community,” said Chairman Chu. “Through Our Town funding, arts organizations continue to spark vitality that support neighborhoods and public spaces, enhancing a sense of place for residents and visitors alike.”

“We are excited to begin this new project that will promote arts in our communities and ensure that residents and visitors can locate and enjoy art activities along the Hi-Line,” said Barb Stiffarm, Executive Director of Opportunity Link.  Project partner Kathy Bohn-Bagley of ArtSpot in Malta assisted OL to write the proposal and states, “Partnerships between local governments, artists, and residents will help us develop a plan, ensure art installations, and promote the Hi-Line Arts Trail.”

For a complete listing of projects recommended for Our Town grant support, please visit the NEA web site at Project descriptions, grants listed by state and by project type, and resources are available as well. The NEA’s online resource, Exploring Our Town, features case studies of more than 70 Our Town projects along with lessons learned and other resources.

The Twitter hashtag is #NEAOurTown15

Opportunity Link unites government leadership, business owners and residents to link resources and build prosperity in the 11 county, 3 reservation region of Northcentral Montana. Opportunity Link has been the recipient of many grants including the Housing and Urban Development’s Sustainable Communities Project that resulted in a 20 year economic development plan for the region.

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