City of Imlay City
In the summer of 2016, the DDA initiated a program to infuse art into the community and specifically, downtown. A call went out for artists to apply to become ‘resident artists’ for a one month timeframe. Two artists were selected and over a 4 week period, ‘set up shop’ in a city-owned building located in downtown. The artists created 14 pieces of large public art, and the pop up art studio was open to the public during the project’s duration. The artists were given a stipend and the use of the facility. The artwork is now permanently displayed throughout downtown, 11 gracing exterior walls (city and privately owned) and 3 are located within City Hall and the library. A brochure has been created to allow visitors to take a walking tour of the public artwork. The DDA’s website highlights the artists while offering their insight on each of their paintings.
Downtown Art in Action could be easily replicated. The facility used could be any city-owned building or an underutilized privately-owned building located within downtown. Rather than two 'resident' artists, the program could be modified so a number of artists could participate dependent upon individual schedules. (For example, an artist might be able to work Monday afternoons and another artist only evenings.) The project's duration could be 1 week or 4 weeks, depending on the funds and resources available. To keep the project economical, a volunteer project manager could be recruited and local sponsors solicited. Local organizations and businesses could donate services to make the building conducive to an art studio.
Creativity and Originality:
Many communities commission artists to create a piece of public art or display artwork on a rotating basis. The Imlay City DDA's approach was unique for it infused the artists within the community for a one month period. The public was invited to peak into the studio, visit with the artists as they work, and be a part of the project. Art in Action was also unique for it created a large number of quality art pieces in a very short time frame to be permanently displayed in downtown. The results of the initiative were immediate and very pronounced causing true excitement in the downtown and community.
Downtown Art in Action has had a tremendously positive impact on our community. Once bland walls now come to life with large pieces of artwork. The DDA has given visitors and community members another reason to frequent downtown and walk the sidewalks. Building owners where the artwork is displayed are pleased with the attention his/her building receives from car and foot traffic. The program was so successful and well received that the DDA is currently organizing Art in Action 2017 to be held in August. The project's goal of economically creating a large artistic impact in a short timeframe was accomplished.