SPRINGFIELD — National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Mary Anne Carter has approved more than $84 million in grants as part of the NEA’s second major funding announcement for fiscal year 2020. Included in this announcement is an Our Town award of $100,000 to the Springfield Library & Museums Assoc. in partnership with the Springfield Cultural Partnership for Spark!: Igniting Our Community, a project in the newly renovated Pynchon Park to envision and create public art that serves to connect the city, residents, and visitors. This is one of 51 grants nationwide that the agency has approved in this category.
“These awards demonstrate the resilience of the arts in America, showcasing not only the creativity of their arts projects but the organizations’ agility in the face of a national health crisis,” Carter said. “We celebrate organizations like the Springfield Museums and the Springfield Cultural Partnership for providing opportunities for learning and engagement through the arts in these times.”
Spark: Igniting Our Community is a two-year public art project that will transform recently reopened Pynchon Park into a vibrant public space through innovative multi-media art installations created by local and national artists. City residents, community stakeholders, and cultural institutions will be involved in a collective process to imagine, select, and commission public art that celebrates Springfield’s citizens, culture, and heritage.
The park, closed for 40 years, will use the arts to connect neighborhoods and people, creating equitable partnerships that demonstrate the power of civic engagement for more vibrant and livable communities. The park’s reopening offers an opportunity to continue momentum by celebrating public art in this passageway and creating a programming and civic-engagement space. This project will create a walkable pathway between the museum district and the commercial downtown, spurring retail and public-space projects along these avenues and encouraging greater tourism throughout the city.
“The Spark! art project is a remarkable opportunity to create a museum without walls informed by the hopes and vision of community members in the heart of downtown Springfield,” said Kay Simpson, president and CEO of Springfield Museums. “Pynchon Park will become more than just an easy way to walk from downtown to the Springfield Museums, the Central Library, and the Armory. It will become a community space for solace and conversation surrounded by intriguing art. We feel privileged to play a role in creating an art park that showcases the talents of artists from Springfield and beyond.”
Karen Finn, executive director for the Springfield Cultural Partnership (SPC), added that “empowering the arts and cultural community is paramount to the strength and resilience of our community. In addition to the wide range of public art installations, Pynchon Park will be a new venue for Springfield artists and organizations to utilize for programming and other activations. Receiving the NEA Our Town grant amplifies the SCP’s goal of connecting artists, institutions, and audiences to celebrate Springfield’s creativity.”