As Artists on Main Street ends its first year, the participating communities are already starting to see the ripple effects from the increased investment in small-scale creative placemaking. Community members have been inspired by the ethos of Artists on Main Street and have decided to implement their own projects, independent of the original grant.
Noelle Lawton, Director of the Twin Rivers Council for the Arts, heard about Artists on Main Street through Mankato’s Main Street Director, Megan Flanagan. Twin Rivers didn’t take a lead role, but they helped connect their artists to the funding opportunities provided by the initiative. Lawton was nonetheless taken by the notion that you don’t need to identify as an artist to make art—or an impact. “You could just be a concerned citizen who sees a need and asks, ‘how can I apply a creative solution to this need?"
"You could just be a concerned citizen who sees a need and asks, 'how can I apply a creative solution to this need?"
Every day she came to work, she encountered a group of low-income and homeless individuals smoking in the parking lot Twin Rivers shared with a church. Artists on Main Street caused her to consider how she could make them feel more welcome using creative placemaking. She decided a parklet would activate the underutilized space and achieve her goal. When a few members from a local business called asking if Twin Rivers had a project they could volunteer for, she knew she had a few extra hands to help.
Afterwards, Bellissimo, a local paint company, donated paint and mapped out a vision for a mural on the pavement. “Who knew it would be such a story?," Lawton remarked. Others in the community have certainly noticed. They’ve been written up in the news and are expecting to receive an award from the chamber.