Three NEA Public Art Competition Finalists Chosen to Join Downtown Beverly’s Arts and Cultural District Advisory Team

May 21, 2013

Three nationally recognized artist teams have been chosen as finalists to submit designs for public art in downtown Beverly as part of the National Endowment for the Arts, (NEA) Arts and Cultural District Public Art Competition, hosted by the City of Beverly, Montserrat College of Art and Beverly Main Streets.

Harries/Heder Collaborative in Cambridge, MA, Anna Schuleit of Brooklyn, and Donald Lipski of Amagansett, NY were selected from a field of 75 applicants in February to submit design proposals for this project. The jury consisted of national and regional artists, gallerists and those knowledgeable in the field of public art.

The finalists attended site visits in Beverly in early March to tour the downtown, learn about the work being done to plan for an arts and cultural district, and view possible sites for sculptural installations. One artist out of the three finalists will be chosen by summer.

Last year, the NEA announced 80 Our Town grant awards totaling $4.995 million and reaching 44 states and the District of Columbia. Montserrat College of Art was one of the grantees as part of a collaborative partnership along with the City of Beverly and Beverly Main Streets. The group received $75,000 of a $150,000 matching grant to create a strategy and implementation plan for an Arts and Cultural district in downtown Beverly.

As part of the grant process, a public hearing seeking input from local citizens was held earlier this year. Funding from the grant pays for planning, not for sculptural installations; but rather for the selection process. Further funding will be required to complete any public art projects.

Montserrat College of Art President Steve Immerman said, “Beverly is fortunate to have three artist-teams, of the caliber of our three finalists, apply for and be chosen to compete in this national art competition. I am certain that any of these artists will be able to bring an iconic work of public art to the City of Beverly to further help transform our downtown, bring life and vibrance to the new arts and culture district, and delight residents and visitors alike. I look forward to seeing final designs as this project moves forward.”

Through Our Town, the NEA supports creative placemaking projects that help transform communities into lively, beautiful and sustainable places with the arts at their core. The grantee projects will improve quality of life, encourage creative activity, create community identity and a sense of place, and help revitalize local economies. All Our Town grant awards were made to partnerships that consisted of a minimum of a not-for-profit organization and a local government entity.

The grant is being used for master planning, implementation and sustainability of a Beverly Arts and Cultural district. The master plan will be a blueprint to connect, communicate and celebrate the arts in all its forms, leveraging the downtown presence of Montserrat College of Art as the core. Each of the three partners has a major initiative underway that will bring even more artists, venues and programs downtown: the college is creating a master plan to expand its footprint, to become a significant force in growing the creative economy, Beverly Main Streets has created a strategic vision, “Downtown 2020” to revitalize the downtown with a strategy that focuses on defining the downtown district through the arts and the city is focused on economic development in the downtown infrastructure.

The three finalists were chosen by a prestigious panel of jurors which included gallerists, artists and experienced public art professionals.

The panelists and grant committee are being assisted by Community Partners Consultants, a planning firm focusing on urban planning and community cultural development, which has helped to plan major transformations for cities such as Jacksonville, FL, the City of Worcester and the Boston Waterfront.

“Cities and towns are transformed when you bring the arts – both literally and figuratively – into the center of them,” said NEA Chairman Landesman. “From Teller, Alaska to Miami, Florida, communities are pursuing creative placemaking, making their neighborhoods more vibrant and robust by investing in the performing, visual, and literary arts. I am proud to be partnering with these 80 communities and their respective arts, civic, and elected leaders.”