In 2014 Sandi Saville and a core group of arts, government and community representatives convened a visioning committee to discuss how to build upon a variety of key assets in our area. These assets our strong arts communities in Allegany County, our beautiful architecture, rich cultural heritage and available space for development.
Being within two hours of three thriving metropolitan areas—Washington, DC, Baltimore, Maryland, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and on the historical National Highway, we are within a 'sweet spot' that could be appealing to a variety of talented people.
We are also fortunate to have two institutions of higher learning located in our area—Allegany College of Maryland and Frostburg State University.
Discussions focused on creating a game-changing, arts-related economic driver, through the involvement of our community and with the help of grant awards. Our ultimate goal is to entice talented people to visit here, move here, and stay here. We wish to eventually rebrand ourselves as a place where talent wants to be. An important distinction in our efforts is that we need to focus on attracting and engaging younger people.
Creative Placemaking Summit
On Friday, October 12, 2014, a Creative Placemaking Summit was held on the second floor of 9 N. Centre Street. Over ninety people attended the event, which was kicked off by Chris Sloan and Sandi Saville, with performances by Coty Warn and the Mountain Centre for the Arts. Carol Gaumer, FSU Marketing Professor and focus group facilitator, reported key findings from focus groups held prior to the event. Creative Placemaking experts Anne Gadwa Nicodemus and Lynn Osgood then presented examples of creative placemaking and served as facilitators during an interactive workshop. Working groups made recommendations to identify key areas of development needed, along with ideas for some 'quick wins' that can help to build community awareness of our efforts. Signage, an artist hub and an “artifying” project were targeted.
Since the Summit we have been encouraged that the Downtown Development Committee is placing new wayfinding signs in the downtown area and is also installing three large signage murals on downtown buildings. Also, the State Highway department has approved all new signs leading from Rt. 68 into the City.
To explore the concept of an artists’ hub we have held two “Start to Finish” sessions at the Arts Council to allow artists to work collaboratively for several weeks and then show their finished projects. Participating artists and the community were enthusiastic about both events.
Last January, we applied for an NEA grant to place a large public artwork along the trail in Cumberland. The location for the project settled on a spot where the trail crosses Will's Creek just north of the Baltimore Street bridge. We received permission and support from the County (the owners of the property) to proceed as well as support from the Army Corps of Engineers, the City of Cumberland, Canal Place Authority and the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad. Unfortunately the NEA Our Town grant application was not accepted. However, we were provided with the comments reviewers made regarding our proposal and, using that information, refined our idea for a second proposal and grant request.
The proposal is that artwork would be visible from our major highway, I-68, the main streets of our downtown area, the bike trail and the scenic railroad tracks. This request is for $75,000 which would be matched from other grant funds and contributions. We should hear the results from this request in April 2016.
In the course of developing that project, another opportunity emerged, which is to create a 248-foot-long mural along the wall behind the Times-News building along the Western Maryland Railroad platform. This is an area that is highly visible and heavily trafficked by people walking and riding the trail and taking the train.
At this point we have secured funding to build a surface one inch from the wall upon which the artwork will be attached. An RFP was sent out asking for proposals for the art and the three finalists presented their refined plans to a design committee on March 9, 2015.
() was selected to create the mural with funds from the Maryland State Arts Council, private contributions and a hoped for grant from the Maryland Heritage Area Authority. Work on the surface should occur in April with the actual artwork beginning in June. When completed, this will be one of the largest murals in Maryland and a true landmark in Western Maryland. Our elected officials have been VERY supportive of these projects.
We also identified a spot for several "bike rack sculptures" created some years ago. We will be moving forward on their installation soon. Dee Dee Ritchie, Executive Director of Canal Place, approved placing the sculptures at a spot with newly planted trees and large rocks next to the Canal Boat at the Canal Place festival grounds. If you go along the trail just past the boat, there is a nice area with trees and large rocks where the sculptures can be placed in a row.
The Allegany Arts Council Placemaking Grants are a new program designed to assist our community in making Allegany County, and specifically its two Arts & Entertainment Districts in Cumberland and Frostburg, look and feel like arts destinations. This is done through projects such as open air performances, murals and other public art, arts walks, pop-up events and galleries, artist relocation and residency programs, outdoor workshops, mobile children's programming, and festivals.The grants are awarded to non-profit organizations and individuals, or combinations of the above. In contrast to General Operating Grants, a Placemaking Grant is for a specific project or program that addressed placemaking.
Eligiblity Requirements for Placemaking Grants (PDF).
Eligiblity Requirements for Placemaking Grants (Word doc).
Placemaking Grants Application (Word doc).
Placemaking Grant Application (PDF).
Creative Placemaking Final Report Form (PDF).
Creative Placemaking Final Report Form (Word doc).