St. Paul’s Central Corridor, where the light rail line is now under construction, will soon have a more lively, artistic, look, thanks to a $750,000 grant for art projects along the route.
ArtPlace, a national public-private collaboration, is funding the effort through a local partnership called Irrigate, made up of the City of Saint Paul, Twin Cities Local Initiatives Support Corporation and Springboard for the Arts.
Organizers say over the next three years, Irrigate will:
“mobilize and train artists in community development and creative placemaking, and activate hundreds of artist-led projects along the Corridor to benefit businesses and neighborhoods. These projects will change the landscape of the Central Corridor with art, creativity and a population of artists who are engaged in their community.”
By “creative placemaking,” they mean “cities and towns using the arts and other creative assets to shape their social, physical and economic futures,” said Rocco Landesman, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. “This approach brings new partners to the table to support the arts and recognizes the arts as vital drivers of community revitalization and development.”
Said St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman in a statement:
“In St. Paul, we’ve known for a long time that our artists aren’t just the soul of our city, but the arts industry is a huge economic engine. You need look no further than Lowertown to see clear evidence of this. It only makes sense that we turn to these same strategies to achieve our goals for the Central Corridor.”
And Polly Talen, St. Paul program director for the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which is funding ArtPlace’s efforts in St. Paul, said:
“The Central Corridor Light Rail Transit line is a billion dollar infrastructure investment in this city, and the hope and expectation for that investment is that it will increase the vibrancy and livability of the community around it. Irrigate is a unique and exciting project that will help us get to that vibrancy faster and more effectively by engaging artists as assets in their own communities.”
The McKnight Foundation is one of the private funders behind ArtPlace, which is giving $11.5 million to help support 34 projects around the country, including St. Paul’s Irrigate.
“Irrigate is a terrific example of exactly the type and quality of work McKnight seeks to support through ArtPlace,” said Kate Wolford, McKnight’s president. “At the intersection of regional development and the arts, this public-private collaboration is beautifully positioned to forge creative, comprehensive approaches to transit-oriented development in the Twin Cities, with a strategic focus on how artists will contribute to its success.”