Finster's Paradise Garden lands $445,000 grant to boost its tourism appeal, local economy

Finster's Paradise Garden lands $445,000 grant to boost its tourism appeal, local economy

June 12th, 2012 by Tim Omarzu in Local - Breaking News

A sign advertising the re-opening of Howard Finster's Paradise Gardens is seen on the property's fence while the World's Folk Art Chapel rises in the background on Thursday, April 26, 2012.

Photo by Jake Daniels/Times Free Press.

Howard Finster's Paradise Garden in Chattooga County, Ga., is receiving a $445,000 grant meant as a "strategic investment" make the collection of folk art more visitor friendly and help the local economy.

ArtPlace, a new national collaboration of 11 major national and regional foundations, six of the nation's largest banks and eight federal agencies, including the National Endowment for the Arts, announced the grant today.

Chattooga is only one of eight rural counties to get a grant from the foundation, which received 2,200 letters of inquiry for grant money.

"Chattooga County is honored to be a recipient of an ArtPlace America Grant Award," Sole Commissioner Jason Winters said in a news release. "In partnership with the Paradise Garden Foundation, this grant will allow us to expedite our work at the Howard Finster's Paradise Garden art environment as this site becomes a 'go-to' location for folk art enthusiasts from around the country. Our goal is to restore the garden to serve as a social, cultural, educational and artistic nexus for the benefit of Chattooga County and the Northwest Georgia region."

Paradise Garden has fallen into disrepair, but efforts are under way to restore it and stabilize Finster's art buildings.

For complete details, see tomorrow's Chattanooga Times Free Press.