The Charleston Parks Conservancy has been recommended to receive a $50,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts for a project that would add public art activities along the West Ashley Greenway and Bikeway.
The Conservancy is partnering with the City of Charleston Office of Cultural Affairs and local community groups on a creative placemaking effort, including selection of artists to create public art and arts programming along the Greenway and Bikeway. The Conservancy is partnering with the City of Charleston to lead the master planning and design of a series of projects to transform the existing Greenway and Bikeway paths into connected linear parks. Temporary public art and arts programming will further the design of high-priority sites from the master plan.
The NEA announced 89 awards totaling $6.89 million supporting projects across the nation through the NEA’s Our Town program. Our Town is the NEA’s signature creative placemaking program that supports partnerships of artists, arts organizations and municipal government that work to revitalize neighborhoods. This practice places arts at the table with land-use, transportation, economic development, education, housing, infrastructure and public safety strategies to address a community’s challenges. Creative placemaking highlights the distinctiveness of a place, encouraging residents to identify and build upon their local creative assets.
“This is an exciting opportunity to be part of transforming a significant public space that connects so many neighborhoods in the City of Charleston,” said Harry Lesesne, executive director of the Charleston Parks Conservancy. “Improving the West Ashley Greenway and Bikeway will be a great benefit to all of the city’s residents, and the addition of public art will make it an even more engaging public space.”
Thanks largely to a $100,000 donation from The Speedwell Foundation, the Conservancy is seeking to develop a master plan for a combined 10.5-mile stretch of the Greenway and Bikeway. In coordination with the master plan and community engagement, the Conservancy will facilitate a series of public art projects and activities in several locations along the Greenway and Bikeway.
Site selection will be guided by priorities outlined in the master plan and the works of art will speak to the unique characteristics of each site and neighborhood. Programming around each public art display will engage community members of all ages.
Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg said, “We very much look forward to working with the Charleston Parks Conservancy, other local arts organizations, artists, and community members to reimagine the West Ashley Greenway and Bikeway as centers of recreation, vitality and connectivity in Charleston.”
This project is part of the Conservancy’s new Art in the Parks initiative, a program of adding temporary, contemporary public art in Charleston’s city parks through collaborations with local and regional artists, arts organizations and community members. The Art in the Parks program also will offer educational opportunities and programming for all ages.
In April, the Conservancy awarded its first Charleston Parks Conservancy exhibition prize to Georgia artist Joseph Dreher, who participated in the the annual ArtFields competition showcasing the work of artists around the Southeast. Dreher will create a work of art to be displayed at a City of Charleston park later this year.
Founded in 2007 by philanthropist Darla Moore, the Conservancy is celebrating a decade of connecting people to their parks and creating stunning public spaces and strong communities throughout the City of Charleston.
Through a public-private partnership, the Conservancy works with the City and community organizations, neighborhoods and engaged citizens to transform and activate the city’s parks and green spaces. The Conservancy is currently working in 25 parks, including Colonial Lake, Allan Park, Wragg Square, McMahon Playground at Hampton Park, Magnolia Park and Community Garden, Marion Square, and Medway Park.