Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Broad Avenue Arts District receives $350,000 from ArtPlace America

UrbanArt is project partner for grant that will fund outdoor public arts venue beneath water tower icon

Mayor A C Wharton announced the award of a $350,000 ArtPlace America grant for the Broad Avenue Water Tower Depot, an ambitious project transforming an active warehouse loading dock area on historic Broad Avenue’s north side into a community-focused outdoor arts gathering and performance space, and converting a 140-foot water tower into a public art beacon. The project will commence in summer 2013.

Broad Avenue Art District was chosen from more than 1,200 applications as “an exceptional example of creative place-making.” Official recipients of the funds are the Binghampton Development Corporation and Historic Broad Business Association.

The iconic water tower will become a piece of art in its own right. The UrbanArt Commission will oversee a national call for artists to submit proposals. The selection of the winning design will be based on a community-driven selection process. In a spirit of collaboration, Crosstown Arts will host a public dinner party, at which the competition winner will be selected by vote.
ArtPlace America is a collaboration of leading national and regional foundations, banks and federal agencies committed to accelerating creative place-making – putting art at the heart of a portfolio of strategies designed to revitalize communities. This is ArtPlace America’s third cycle of grant awards. With this round of grants, in total, ArtPlace America has awarded a total of $42.1 million in 134 grants to 124 projects in 90 communities across the U.S. (and a statewide project in the state of Connecticut).

“This grant provides a major boost to an historic area of our city that has been going through a grass-roots renaissance,” Mayor Wharton said. “It is a creative use of space that will double as industrial warehouse and loading dock during the week, and as a public and artistic gathering space on weekends and for special events.”

The Broad Avenue project includes construction of a terraced seating and public art installation area, a national competition for an artistic design for the water tower; a dance festival, and eight weekends of free outdoor community dance concerts, including dance classes and live music.

“The project and the grant could not have happened without the enthusiastic participation of Loeb Properties, which owns the warehouse and water tower, and Power & Tel, which uses the space and loading dock every day,” said David Wayne Brown, president of the Historic Broad Business Association.

“We’re also indebted to the Binghampton Development Corporation for its assistance. And, I want to single out our business association’s vice president, Pat Brown, manager of T. Clifton Gallery, who put many hours into getting the project defined and the grant application done. We’re beginning a project that truly will transform the art district into a unique magnet for the public, for artists, and for businesses.”

The warehouse and loading dock area will be opened up and connected to the businesses along the street via terraced seating and a functional public art installation. Designed by nationally-recognized sculptor Ben Butler in conjunction with engineering firm Fuss & O’Neill, Inc., the space will be approximately 40 feet wide and extend the length of the warehouse. The venue will have seating for 200 people.

The first annual Broad Avenue Dance Festival will be held in April 2014 featuring a free performance showcasing a dance company to be selected. The festival will be coordinated by Collage Dance Collective, a new business resident on Broad. The festival will be followed by eight weekends of free community “dance concerts” to include dance classes in the new performance space. Community-based programming will continue throughout the year to activate the Water Tower Depot as a continuing venue, including music, dance, children’s activities and bicycle-related events.

The Water Tower Depot will be created alongside the future Overton-Broad Connector, tying bike trails east and west in the city.

“ArtPlace America recognizes the central role arts and cultural activities can have in the revitalization of American cities.” Said Rip Rapson, chair of ArtPlace America’s Presidents’ Council. “With this grant award ArtPlace America is directing individual project support to scores of creative, high-impact projects throughout the country.”

“ArtPlace America is also continuing to break new ground in drawing together some of the nation's leading foundations to think — in a concerted way — about how these kinds of projects can become more widespread.” He added.

The 54 organizations that received grants were selected from over 1200 applications. Inquiries came from all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia. Grant amounts range from $750,000 to $33,000 with an average grant size of just over $280,000. 

The complete list of 2013/2014 ArtPlace America awards can be found at