PLAYGROUND DETROIT is pleased to announce a special call for proposals for the Free City Public Art Festival. The presenting organization, Flint Public Art Project, is particularly interested in receiving proposals from the PLAYGROUND DETROIT community and has extended the deadline. This is a special extension which closes by Monday, March 11th at midnight. See this link for information about the festival and how to submit. Entries should call out PLAYGROUND DETROIT’s extension as the reason for entry, otherwise it will be considered a late entry!
Flint Public Art Project came out of the personal experience of executive director, Stephen Zacks. Born and raised in Flint, Zacks spent fifteen years in New York City working between non-profit organizations, neighborhood advocacy and cultural producers to create collaborative projects that engage local communities and their creative culture. After most recently co-producing Nuit Blanche in NYC, Zacks set his sights on Flint, initiating a self-funded 6-week pilot project in 2011, then applied for an ArtPlace grant that offered the start-up funds to bring Flint Public Art Project to life. ArtPlace “works to accelerate creative place-making by making grants and loans; by striking important partnerships with those who share our passion; with solid but imaginative research; and with communication and advocacy that we hope will influence others to engage in this work.” (Credit: http://www.artplaceamerica.
Zacks says about FPAP:
One of our goals is to contribute to a creative economy-of-scale in the city. That means bringing as much new work as possible. A vibrant culture already exists downtown, but we’re looking for types of work that otherwise doesn’t exist in the area, because our theory is that it will be much more generative and produce new types of experiences.
Since fall 2012, Flint Public Art Project has initiated numerous projects, including site-specific installations, video projections, lectures and parties in an inflatable bubble the size of small house, conceptual street art, community workshops, art programs in schools and many others. FPAP has an angle of attempting, even with limited staff, to reach all communities within the city limits. When asked by ArtPlace about FPAP’s approach and how it might be innovative within the placemaking community, Zacks said:
…We talk to alcoholics, drug dealers, pimps, and prostitutes, and take what they say about their neighborhood seriously—just like we talk to the coffee shop owners, house-proud gay couples, med students, the director of the nearby hospital and universities, and the mayor. As a result, the people on the street keep an eye out for us and become our allies in rebuilding the community. Maybe I take a page out of Jacob Holdt’s American Pictures, which made a big impression on me when I was younger. As an outsider from Denmark, Holdt saw how deeply racism cut through our society. We’re right in the middle of that divide in Flint.
FPAP prioritizes community engagement, education and debate, believing them to be vital to their mission to of serving and inspiring the general public.
FLINT PUBLIC ART PROJECT IS A PLATFORM FOR CULTURAL PRODUCTION and public engagement in Flint, Michigan. It aims to transform the public image and identity of Flint through spectacular events, using publicity and media to target regional, national, and international audiences, revealing new stories about the city, provide new sources of inspiration to local producers by facilitating ground-breaking collaborations with visiting artists and designers, and assist in master-planning processes underway in the city through community events, strategic urban interventions, site-specific actions, and large-scale public art festivals.
By producing exciting art projects, presentation and workshops that engage neighborhoods, FPAP supports the city’s urban improvements’ process.
Downtown Flint’s recent development has been focused on seeding new business, combating crime, and attracting outside investment and tourism. What appears to be missing is a more holistic view of how Flint’s downtown can interact with the rest of the city, how it could help to shape and be shaped by all of Flint’s neighborhoods and become a reflection of the social and cultural richness that thrives here.
–James Andrews, Director of Strategy and Operations
FPAP has brought artists from all over to work in Flint, combatting assumptions of Flint promoted by media and other outlets. Artists from New York, Detroit, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Berlin, and elsewhere have presented artwork, taught school classes, screened films, lead urban planning workshops and performed around Flint. It’s not easy to bring in non-resident artists, Zacks says:
An unavoidable tension exists between the local producers, who are bound to feel threatened by people coming into their turf, and visiting artists. ‘Why do we need these people coming here—we have our own artists.’ But we think these artists are producing qualitatively different forms of art—and it wouldn’t be possible to bring them without the support of ArtPlace…So the work coming out of New York or Los Angeles has a different character, and we’re counting on it to be exciting for everyone to experience the cross-pollination. The two sides of the equation are both integral.
I work really hard doing the groundwork to make sure local organizations are connected to projects, that projects respond to their interests, and that area producers are involved as collaborators from conception to realization. However, I also want the process to be led by artists who are the most highly trained, have the best technical capacity, and—that intangible thing in art—are able to do things that would be unimaginable to me or local producers if we just created a list of interests and tallied them up in some analytical way.
PLAYGROUND DETROIT is delighted to promote FPAP’s mission and we encourage our community to respond to the Free City Public Art Festival call for proposals!