What were the specific goals of this creative economy project? Describe the community development challenge or opportunity that your project was designed to address:
The goals of this project were to 1) beautify Westville through public art; 2) promote the artists working in Westville and to promote their work; 3) promote Westville - as a place to make art, see art, start arts-related businesses, visit arts related businesses, and participate in a diverse, inclusive community of creative-minded people; 4) to pay artists as fairly as possible for their work.
Who was involved in this project and what did they do? (be sure to include the partners from outside of the creative sector and how local voices were included):
The Westville Village Renaissance Alliance funds and coordinates the Public Art Initiative, the branding efforts, and the ancillary events and costs for Westville's piece of City Wide Open Studios.
Artist /entrepreneurs Misti and Luke Hanscom jump-started and inspired this new wave of efforts by opening Lotta Studio/West River Arts - a hybrid enterprise encompassing 13 individual artist studios, a co-working space for creatives, a photo studio/event space and a coffee bar. This anchor institution quickly attracted new talent and energy, including well-known artists like Mohammad Hafez, and many of the artists driving the projects included in this initiative. Additionally, the Hanscom's serve on the public art selection committee, provide technical support for many installations, and serve as art directors for Westville's branding efforts.
ArtSpace - our partner for CityWIde Open Studios events. Coordinating the Westville weekend through Artspace's larger event amplifies its reach and its scope, help to spread the Westville gospel beyond New Haven's border.
Southern Connecticut State University - our partner in creating street banners for Whalley Avenue. Southern covered the cost of installation, a huge savings for us, and shared their reduced rate for the creation of the banners. The poles have Westville banners on one side, and SCSU banners on the other.
Westville businesses from Affiliated Foot and Ankle Surgeons to Bella's Cafe have partnered with WVRA in the presentation and installation of public art pieces throughout the Village.
Arts-related Westville businesses Strange Ways and the Kehler Liddell Gallery provided additional programming and publicity in a coordinated manner, optimizing the impact of events like City Wide Open Studios.
The City of New Haven offered financial support of our public art efforts through their neighborhood vitality matching grants, and through a willingness to say yes to projects on city property, including tile mosaics on a bridge and a vinyl wrap of a city bus stop. The city also supported the hanging of our Whalley Avenue banners and assisted in securing the state permissions.
The Westville/West Hills Community Management Team provided funding specifically for the creation and implementation of the Westville Banners on Whalley Ave.
The State of Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development provided significant operating support to WVRA, allowing for the underwriting of this projects.
The Carolyn Foundation supported WVRA's arts-related community programming, including our CWOS efforts.
Travis Carbonella - Westville's resident videographer captures our community as only he can, and has helped to define what makes Westville so unique.
Individual artists who live and work in Westville play critical roles in all of these efforts. The public art committee, responsible for selecting sites and judging proposals, is comprised entirely of Westville-based artists, three of whom happen to also be business owners. Without the full commitment of the 30+ individual artists, there would be no open studios event. And finally, our branding efforts are directed and implemented by the talented artists of Westville, drawing on our home-grown talent to convey our message.
How does this project relate to a larger community development strategy?
As we work to ensure the economic health of Westville Village, our top priority is to fight against vacancies, empty lots and blighted buildings. We do this through a number of different strategies, for example, we recently worked with the Yale Law School Community and Economic Development Clinic to change the zoning code in Westville Village. But we have come to recognize that our top recruiting tool for growing Westville is our community of artists and the arts-related businesses they have created. In the past year a new vinyl record shop, a high-end vintage clothing boutique and Connecticut's first Cat Cafe have all opened in Westville. These new business owners will directly site Lotta Studio, Neville Wisdom Fashions, Strange Ways and other businesses anchored in the creative economy when discussing why they chose Westville.
What projects or places, if any, inspired your approach to this creative economy project?
The creation of Lotta Studio and West River Arts inspired our approach to this project. The initiatives outlined here were a way of harnessing the new energy and creativity at West River Arts and extending it and amplifying it throughout the Village.