Springfield Central Cultural District Connects Downtown Through Art

Springfield Central Cultural District Connects Downtown Through Art

As director of the Springfield Central Cultural District, Morgan Drewniany doesn’t see the arts in a vacuum. Rather, they’re one of the connecting threads joining the realms of economic development, social justice, and a city’s walkability and livability, which are, of course, among the keys to any community’s future. To that end, the SCCD is raising the profile of the arts in and around downtown Springfield — and that of its myriad artists as well.

Artists invited to display work in 'unconventional' downtown Springfield pop-up galleries

Three artists will soon have the opportunity to display and sell their work in the heart of downtown Springfield.

The Springfield Central Cultural District is looking for artists to host solo shows in pop-up galleries at New England Public Radio, the SilverBrick Lofts and 1550 Main Street. Artists will display their work from March to June, receive all proceeds from any sales and be paid a $200 stipend.

"The idea is to create unconventional gallery spaces sprung out of being asked by the host locations how to activate their community rooms, and we're always looking for ways to increase walkability downtown," Springfield Central Cultural District Director Morgan Drewniany said in a statement.

Proposals are due March 8, and more details can be found here. The proposed installations can include a wide variety of media, and will be selected based on artistic excellence and originality, creative use of the available space and regard for the broad audience who will likely see the work.

The cultural district will also favor installations which are comprehensive or have a unified theme, according to the request for proposals.

The initiative follows the cultural district's "Art Stop" program in October, when painter Joe Tomaselli, mixed media artist Chelsea Revelle and illustrator and cartoonist Justin (Murasaki) Phillips displayed their art for one-day popup galleries at NEPR, SilverBrick and 1550 Main Street.

"The October pilot Art Stop in these locations was a huge success in both ways - people were walking and talking about art in a new and different way in the district, and we hope to continue the momentum by doing it again," Drewniany said in a statement.   

Source: http://www.masslive.com/news/index.ssf/2017/02/artists_wanted_to_display_and.html

New 'video map' showcases Springfield's cultural attractions

The Springfield Central Cultural District has launched a "video map" to accompany its Downtown Springfield Cultural Walking Tour route, allowing pedestrians to learn about the city's attractions while traveling downtown.

The video map features officials from Springfield's cultural highlights, from the Basketball Hall of Fame to the Springfield Museums, delivering brief talks on each location's history. 13 videos were made in total, with speakers including Springfield Symphony Orchestra Executive Director Peter Salerno and Springfield Preservation Trust board member Bob McCarrol.

"Sometimes even residents are unaware of the beautiful assets we have throughout the Cultural District, and these videos are a living, breathing way for everyone to connect with the people at our historic and cultural landmarks, not just the buildings," Springfield Central Cultural District Director Morgan Drewniany said in a statement.

The videos and the visual walking tour map can be viewed at http://springfieldculture.org/video-map.

The Springfield Central Cultural District, a membership group that includes dozens of institutions in downtown Springfield, has embarked on a series of projects to revitalize the city center and attract visitors. A recent public art project commissioned artists to paint murals on utility boxes across downtown.

The videos feature the Basketball Hall of Fame, CityStage, the Springfield Symphony Orchestra, UMass Springfield, New England Public Radio, WGBY, Sterns Square, the Springfield Armory National Historic Site and Museum, the Springfield Museums, Springfield Central Library, the Community Music School, MassMutual Center and Court Square.

Consultant says Springfield should Seuss-ify and diversify into an arts mecca

SPRINGFIELD -- Beloved children's author Roald Dahl was born in Cardiff, Wales, and that city celebrates him by rolling a building-size "Giant Peach" down its main street on his birthday in celebration of his famous children's novel.

So what is Springfield willing to do for its own author of quirky children's books -- native son Dr. Seuss, who was born Theodor Seuss Geisel here in 1904?

It's one of the questions posed Wednesday by Tim Jones, head of strategy for the London-based consulting firm Futurecity as he laid a case that Springfield, Worcster and Boston need to use the arts to foster economic and real estate development as well as a sense of community and hopefulness to drive their collective futures.

Jones spoke at a morning meeting of the Springfield Central Cultural District at the Ninth Floor Gallery in the MassLive Building, 1350 Main St.

Springfield, Jones said, should focus on Seuss, on opening up connections to the Connecticut River, on having clear and helpful wayfinding signage and information that is also whimsical and fun, of connecting youth to downtown and of integrating the city's various cultures into the downtown arts scene.

Ideas include making use of space under the Interstate 91 viaduct as an arts venue, similar to Toronto's Overpass Park.

Another idea is to host a sort of community potluck meal where all Springfield's cultural groups can mix and learn from one another.

In terms of capitalizing on Seuss, the Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum -- a project by the Springfield Museums in cooperation with the late writer's heirs -- is currently under construction at the Quadrangle and set to open in 2017.

Placemaking, Jones said, is the burgeoning art of transforming space -- a sidewalk, a hallway, a concrete pad under a highway overpass -- into a place that is interesting and inviting and a space people want to be.

"We come at that from the point of view of cultural -- broadly defined," Jones said.

That means it doesn't have to be just art galleries and chamber music.

"It is everything from green space, public parks, youth programs, businesses," Jones said.

London-based Futurecity started studying the arts climate and the arts potential to lead a renewal in Springfield, Worcester and in Boston in July as a project paid for by the Massachusetts Cultural Council and the Boston Foundation. The cultural council -- a state agency -- and the foundation are each paying $75,000, according to a memorandum of understanding provided in response to a public records request by The Republican.  

Futurecity founder Mark Davy came to tour all three cities. 

Futurecity has worked all over the world in major cities like Sydney, Australia, and the boroughs of Kensington and Chelsea in London. Jones said Springfield and Worcester are smaller, yet primed for success.

He cited MGM Springfield and the CRRC Ma rail car plant here and MassDigi, the Massachusetts Digital Games institute, in Worcester.

"Form our outside perspective, there is a real sense that that a renewal is coming," Jones said. "That lends this effort a sense of urgency."

There are challenges, Jones said. Both Springfield and Worcester have too much vacant and unused space in the downtown. College students, be they at Holy Cross or at Springfield College, don't feel connected to their respective cities.

Anita Walker, head of the Massachusetts Cultural Council, said the work by Jones and Futurecity has arts organizations talking with real estate developers talking with city officials across the state. From those conversations, collaboration will grow.

"That for me, is the book's last chapter," Walker said.

As for the Giant Peach, Jones said Cardiff officials expected it to draw 50,000 people. They got 100,000.

"To really appreciate it, you have to see this giant peach through the eyes of children," Jones said. "There is a giant peach rolling around, thisthing that no sensible grownup would ever stage for them."