FLINT, Michigan—Imagine an influx of vibrant murals on boarded doors around the city, collaborative community performances, and even more artistic opportunities for everyone.
North Flint Revitalization Initiative is a finalist for a major national award that would fund all of these efforts. The National Creative Placemaking Fund received nearly 1,000 applications for the $200,000 ArtPlace America grant. The North Flint Revitalization Initiative is one of 70 finalists.
The North Flint Revitalization Initiative focuses on keeping the community safe through a collaboration of community members, churches, foundations, Hamilton Community Health Network, and the Flint Police Department.
The increased funding would allow the organization to grow, getting more youth involved through a variety of activities from spoken word, theater, even putting graffiti skills to use to create murals, according to Geri Clark, president of the North Flint Neighborhood Action Council, which has partnered with local artists and organizations to develop art programs on Flint’s northside.
Vacant lots and boarded doors should be viewed as “blank canvases” available for creative and constructive arts, Clark said.
“Hopefully it will be a crime deterrent,” said Clark. “Once they (residents) see the momentum of action being done and people taking pride in their community again, by getting out and doing something, people will basically follow, asking ‘what can I do? How can I get involved?’ It builds momentum to... Work as neighbors like we use to do.”
Grant award winners will be announced in December, but community members say they can’t help but also celebrate making it through to this important step, since only 7 percent of applicants from across the nation are being considered finalists.
ArtPlace America is used by communities to employ artists, art organizations, and other artistic and cultural leaders to invest in local communities. It works with 16 partner foundations, eight federal agencies, and six financial institutions.