Northside resident Phoenix Miller believes that the latest grant project for the neighborhood will rekindle a sense of community.
The Arts Partnership of Greater Spartanburg has received a $30,000 grant from the National Endowment of the Arts to build four prototype “artlets” in Spartanburg's Northside. The areas will be venues for the arts and measure approximately 8 to 10 feet wide and have a moveable fence about 6 feet high.
Miller grew up in the Northside neighborhood when the mill was still operating. She remembers a “beautiful sense of community” when residents knew each other and sat on their porches.
“My family was musical, and there were Christian bands performing on my front porch. My brothers were in different bands that played on the porch,” Miller said. “The porch was a connector, and I think this will bring back that sense of community.”
The word “artlets” came from a discussion during two days of meetings last year as local leaders and Northside residents began planning what they wanted the neighborhood to look like in the future.
As talk began about art opportunities for the neighborhood, someone brought up the need for outlets for music, performance and other art forms, and “outlet” became “artlet,” said The Arts Partnership President Jennifer Evins.
Northside residents will have a hand in designing and building the spaces alongside artist Tom Shields of North Carolina. Wofford College art students and woodworking students from Spartanburg Community College also will participate. The project will be managed by Art-Force, a nonprofit based in Chapel Hill, N.C.
“This is the desire of residents in the community who said, 'We want the arts in the Northside,'” Evins said. “The arts play an important role in having a livable neighborhood.”
Shields will work a week each month in Spartanburg for a year and is excited about the scope of the project.
“It's an extension of the front porch,” Shields said. “It's a place where people can gather, play chess, play music, read. Art should be out there for the people, not just in museums and galleries. I'm really excited about making spaces that will be good for everyone. I'm excited to be able to give back and revitalize a neighborhood.”
Shields, a former carpenter who is now a full-time artist, said he's looking forward to working with residents in planning and building the artlets. He'll establish a woodworking studio in the neighborhood and teach residents how to use tools, whether it's to produce their own art or do home improvement projects.
Eventually, officials would like to see eight artlets in the neighborhood, and Evins hopes other similar spaces may be built in other communities across Spartanburg County.
A date has not been set yet, but a community planning meeting will be scheduled later this month.
Evins said repurposed wood is needed, and anyone wishing to donate or volunteer may call her at 278-9663 or email her at jEvins@SpartanArts.org.
View article as it appears on GoUpstate.com