Ak Arts ConfluenceThe shoreline in front of Haines has a lot of upgrades in its future. With an expanded small boat harbor, and the potential for a relocated park and waterfront trail, there are a lot of separate plans. The Alaska Arts Confluence wants to connect those plans through art, culture, and, hopefully, a $100,000 federal grant. The confluence is getting ready to hand in its application for the ‘Our Town’ grant program, which would give a boost to waterfront beautification.

The grant is from the National Endowment for the Arts and focuses on “creative placemaking.” It combines things like infrastructure, transportation, even public safety, with art and culture. Carol Tuynman is the creative director for the arts confluence in Haines, and has been working on the application since the spring.

“They’re looking for projects that engage the broadest cross-section of community stakeholders, from the public to government,” she says.

If the money is granted, it will go toward various aspects of designing a livelier waterfront – from trails, to signs, to green spaces. But, nothing is lined out definitely for a couple of reasons: the process is in its infancy. And the development of how the venture should move forward will be up to the community. The Arts Confluence is simply facilitating the grant, not deciding how it will be implemented. The grant requires a 100-percent match, which could come from in-kind donations on the project. Also, Tuynman says, everything will go through the borough, as they’re a partner in the undertaking.

“What’s really significant is that people are listened to, they have input in the process and they have ownership.”

The money won’t go toward development. But it will take some of the financial burden off the borough with things like consultants, designers and engineers for various aspects of waterfront development from the Portage Cove campground to Picture Point. The grants won’t be announced until the spring of 2017, but Tuynman says the confluence will plan like they’re going to get it. She’s spoken out at assembly meetings, and various committee meetings to spread the word. The borough is on board, and she’s getting ready to meet with private landowners about a partnership.

“I see the arts as a vehicle for bringing people together, public art in particular, and giving them opportunities to really celebrate who they are, and each other,” she says. “In my mind, there’s a lot of those elements that will take money that the borough wouldn’t be in a position to do, but a grant could.”

According to the National Endowment for the Arts, the Our Town grant program supports projects that help to transform communities into energetic, robust places with the arts at their core. This funding “supports local efforts to enhance quality of life and opportunity for existing residents, increase creative activity, and create a distinct sense of place.”

But Tuynman and the confluence have been promoting the marriage between art and everyday life for years. The Art on Main Street project and the Fort Seward Sculpture Garden have enhanced the town in plenty of ways, she says. And big projects like those also have the potential to draw more visitors.

“When you really listen and get everyone’s ideas, you end up with better outcomes. And I think even people that disagree end up feeling that they were heard and that they are being respected and they’re part of the process.”

Most recently, Tuynman updated the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee this week.

“Things are in very good shape,” she told the committee. “And now, officially, the borough manager and the mayor have agreed that they would like to have a letter written on the partnership.”

The parks and rec committee also gave their support to the undertaking.

So, the application is due on Sept. 12, with all the materials and plans due a week later. The confluence will hear back in April whether they get the grant.