The Riverspace project began as a conversation among a group of New London residents. One of those souls had the audacity to suggest that we reach out to ArtPlace America for a unique granting opportunity. Together, we wrote a grant that wove together all kinds of community-building and creative placemaking principles used in tangible ways to re-imagine our under-appreciated natural assets. With the help of friends and fellow dreamers, we successfully won the grant for our town, our river and our community.
The facts about this grant and this project:
—The grant was awarded to the City of New London (fiscal agent) and it’s four project partners: New London Community in Action, New London Arts Alliance, New London Economic Development Authority and the New London Merchants Group. The City has received all the funds and will administer them according to the grant proposal.
—There are three objectives of the grant: 1-Develop a training program to equip project leaders from within the community. 2-Create public arts projects within the project area that build creative capital, enhance the environment and invite public use of the space. 3-Reclaim an underutilized public space by integrating it with local business, establishing a pedestrian marketplace and encouraging community pride of place.
—The entire project budget is $630,891. This includes the infrastructure investment made by the City of New London for the parking lot and green spaces at the northwest end of downtown. The grant award is $262,500 from ArtPlace America, a consortium of 12 private funders.
—The grant proposal includes contracted training provided by Forecast Public Art, a national public arts/artist resource based in St. Paul. It also includes monies set aside for professional services (surveys, engineers, architects, etc.), artist fees (public artists, performers, design services) and staff (director positions are paid via stipend). There are projects within the grant proposal that will need additional fundraising–one of them is a footbridge across the river to create a pedestrian loop with the nature trail on the opposite bank.
—The term of the grant is 30 months from the award date on July 1, 2014.
—Project Director is Jeff Vetsch. Artistic Director is Kristin Allen. Liason for City of New London is Trudie Guptill. The Riverspace Advisory Board consists of eight members who will provide oversight of the project and the funds as it progresses: Craig Edwards, Cindy Sinsaas, Cole Leiser, Pat Johnson Kvam, Kim Wendlandt, Anne Dybsetter, Steve Maher and Trudie Lieser.
—The New London City Council approved the project coordination and oversight by the two directors and the Advisory Board in a motion dated July 2014.