PORTLAND — The city will receive a $100,000 grant for a new program that aims to reduce social and political tensions in neighborhoods through art.

The city announced on Tuesday that Portland is one of 51 groups nationwide to receive an Our Town grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

The program is designed to use art and public-private relationships to reshape social, physical and economic characteristics of neighborhoods.

The grant was awarded to the city’s Art at Work program, which started in 2007 as a way to address challenges of engaging city workers and the public.

The program has produced poetry readings, photography exhibits and places to improve employee morale and public awareness. Exhibits have been displayed in galleries, parking garages, libraries and the Portland police station.

“The creation of art can bring us together across the barriers of race, class, national origin, to share life stories and build trusting relationships,” Mayor Nicholas Mavodones said in a press release.

The grant will provide funding for Art at Work’s “Meeting Place,” a new initiative aimed at using interdisciplinary art forms to engage neighborhood organizations.

The goal is to increase civic engagement and reduce social and political tensions that exist between neighborhood associations, community leaders, the arts community and municipal government.

Randy Billings can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @randybillings.

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