Earlier this year, the Village set a goal of raising $30,000 to commission artists to create public art on the backs of buildings along the Lakeshore Trail bike path. If the Village met the goal, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation was to kick in a match.
However, in the final days of fundraising, due to a technical snafu, the required amount for an MEDC match jumped to $35,000.
“We were in a bit of a panic on Friday,” said Angela Stanford-Butler, the Village's DDA Director. “We realized that due to some technicalities regarding donation limits that we may have set ourselves up for some of our donations to not count toward the MEDC's match requirements. Four days before the fundraiser ends, we realize that we have to reach $35,000, not $30,000.”
But reach it, they did – and with money to spare.
“Our community is so generous, donations came in all weekend, all day Tuesday and are still coming in,” Stanford-Butler said. “We went well beyond our margin of error and with the match we have a starting point of $66,000. The support has been absolutely amazing.”
Stanford-Butler said Sgt. Jason Kik of the Ottawa County Sheriff Department — who is in charge of the Spring Lake/Ferrysburg division — has been pushing the idea of public art in the village for almost two years.
The idea stemmed from a Crime Prevention through Environmental Design report compiled by Ottawa County Sheriff Department Deputy Corey Allard.
“We know that public art is a crime deterrent and has been used to prevent crime in other communities throughout the United States,” Kik said.
Studies show that public art adds not only to neighborhood beautification, but by drawing visitors it brings in more eyes watching the area. If the art has actual eyes in it, it can create the sense that the area is being watched.
The first “canvas” will be the back side of the Cruise and Travel/Gemsource building at 301 W. Savidge St., which faces Whistle Stop Playground.
Stanford-Butler said they're hoping to finalize two other locations soon.
“We hope that even though the match is over, that folks will continue to donate because this is going to be a continuous effort,” she said. “After the murals are complete, we absolutely want to see sculptures along the rest of the trail that is away from paintable buildings. We see this as the start of something big in the Village and all along our trail.”
Stanford-Butler said the Village will post a Call for Artists next week at www.SpringLakeMI.com and collect applications through March.
With input from the community, the Art in the Park committee and Village Council will choose artists in early April.
“We will announce the winners sometime in late April and hope to have paintings started in May,” she said. “It's our hope to have three murals completed by the first week in September.”
Currently, the Village has no public art, according to Stanford-Butler.
“Considering what a robust art community we have in the Tri-Cities area, it's almost unimaginable that we have nothing to show for so much local talent,” she said. “Being able to showcase our local artists in such an exciting way is going to be a fantastic community builder. We expect this art to become a real source of pride for Spring Lake.”
Stanford-Butler said she hopes having art along Lakeside Trail will bring in tourists and make Spring Lake a destination town.
“Add this art to the mix of new business and development in the Village and you're going to see a real positive impact,” she said. “It's a very exciting time and we can't wait to see what local artists come up with.”