SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Springfield has been called the City of Firsts, and now its piloting a design concept that’s new to the United States.
“It could be artists, it could be writers, it’s whatever the city does well,” explained Mark Davy, founder of London-based Futurecity.
“Futurecity Mass” launched this past week in Boston and Worcester, and on Friday, in Springfield. It’s an innovative concept: incorporating art and culture with economic development to revitalize a city. FutureCity has proven its success in more than 200 projects in cities around the world. Davy toured Springfield Friday to figure out how his firm could showcase the city’s unique qualities, and attract new business and tourists to them.
“You’re creating a city with art integrated into new developments that is more engaging to people. It makes people want to be in the space,” explained Springfield Central Cultural Division Executive Director Morgan Drewniany, She spoke, as students from the Community Music School of Springfield intensive played violins.
Davy said the moment he arrives in a city, he starts viewing the city through artistic means. He told 22News, “Someone said you know Monopoly was done here and I’m thinking the whole city is a Monopoly board and so we have got a good reputation for doing very big, kind of bold projects, but also persuading lots of organizations that wouldn’t normally be part of it.” Davy said he’s interested in a concept known as “psycho-geography”: Exploring a city from a walking perspective versus from a blueprint in an office. For example, walking down Matoon Street may not be the most convenient way to get from Point A to Point B, but it may be the most beautiful, or the best way to explore Springfield’s rich history.
Futurecity Mass is partially paid for by your tax money that the Massachusetts Cultural Council has set aside. It’s also partially funded through the private organization, The Boston Foundation.
“It takes money that would be spent on a road or bridge and it makes that road or bridge a work of art, so suddenly the budgets for art have exploded,” said Anita Walker, executive director of the Massachusetts Cultural Council. Futurecity is also working in Worcester and Boston.