Bighorn Canyon to resubmit grant for Ewing-Snell Ranch

Although turned down for a grant to rebuild the Ewing-Snell Ranch as an art, science and research center, officials at the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area are hopeful that they can be successful in resubmitting the grant application again this year.

According to Chief of Interpretation Christy Fleming, Bighorn Canyon was informed on Nov. 30 by officials from ArtPlace America that the Ewing-Snell project was “not among our funded projects this year.” But in a follow-up telephone conversation, park officials were encouraged to apply again.

Bighorn Canyon had applied for the ArtPlace America grant as the major funding component for rebuilding the ranch house to not only restore the character of the historic ranch but to also once again provide a place for artists, researchers, visitors and others to use and enjoy.

The ranch house that stood for more than 100 years at the ranch site south of Barry’s Landing burned to the ground on Dec. 9, 2015.

The following spring Park Service staff members heard about the ArtPlace America grant and prepared an initial proposal for a $250,000 grant, later increasing the request to $367,537 as part of a $428,537 project with the $61,000 difference to be met with in-kind labor by park staff.

ArtPlace America is a collaboration among a number of foundations, federal agencies and financial

The historic home greets visitors on a beautiful fall afternoon in 2014.
David Peck photo

institutions working to position art and culture as a core sector of comprehensive community planning and development in order to help strengthen the social, physical and economic fabric of communities, the organization’s website states.

Fleming said entities applying for the grants must first fill out a pre-grant application because of the large number of applications received. She said ArtPlace America received around 1,400 pre-applications last year and chose 76 to proceed with the grant process as finalists to receive site visits, with Bighorn Canyon one of the finalists.

Not this year

ArtPlace America officials made their site visit on July 15, and Fleming said the staff members who visited were impressed with the project and with the level of community support for the rebuilding of the ranch house. But the park was informed on Nov. 30 that the project was not selected for funding.

“As you know, the process was extremely competitive with only 76 finalists selected out of almost 1,400 inquiries received,” ArtPlace America officials Javier Torres and Leila Tamari wrote to Bighorn Canyon via email. “Prior to the next ArtPlace America funding round, we will schedule phone calls with the finalists who intend to submit new proposals. These phone calls will take place the week of December 12-16, 2016.”

“We had that call on December 12,” Fleming said, noting that both Torres and Tamari were on the call.

“They said our project was intriguing and from the video and site meeting they could tell the park staff and community members were passionate about having the Ewing-Snell rebuilt,” Fleming noted. “At the site visit they had suggested us looking more into community economic development as an emphasis for the grant. We tried to do that but didn’t do a very good job.

“They gave us some feedback during the call and some areas to focus more on. This week I’ll be writing a new pre-grant (proposal), and they’ve offered to review it prior to the pre-grant application. It’s the same format as last year, the pre-grant level and they choose a certain percentage to go on to the actual granting stage.”

Fleming said her draft will go to the ArtPlace America staff by Jan. 13, and the time line would be much the same as last year with a February deadline for the pre-grant application and, if successful in moving forward, the full grant application due in August.

Remaining hopeful

“They really loved the park,” Fleming said of the ArtPlace America staff members. “We had the most community members of any of their site meetings, and they were impressed with the passion of the staff and community. They could tell it was an important project. I just think we over-thought the answers to the questions. We hope to do better this time.

“They really did like it and were as excited about it as us. But when it came to the committee, on paper it was harder for the committee to make the connection. When people (the staff) met us they understood…The positive thing is they’ve never funded a grant in Wyoming, and they are really intrigued by the project. They’ve been super helpful. They’re very patient, very kind and very helpful.”

Fleming believes Bighorn Canyon and ArtPlace America are a good fit. As she said during an interview last summer, “I feel we fit into this because the Ewing-Snell always was an educational, cultural and art center for the community with the Artist in Residence program, archaeology field schools, research and Crow cultural ceremonies.”

For more information, call Fleming at 548-5406.

By David Peck