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 three “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.
January 2015, 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. We applied again in 2016 but were still not successful.
However, in the course of developing that project, another opportunity emerged, which was to create a 200-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. After an RFP was responded to, a local artist, Parris Ashley, was selected to paint this mural. It has been completed and was dedicated in the Fall of 2016.
Since then, the Creative Placemaking Committee met and decided that since the Downtown Pedestrian Mall was undergoing a complete renovation, including the addition of one way traffic, the most appropriate place for our next efforts would be to incorporate a Public Art Strategy into this design.
As part of this effort we invited the Cochran Group from Frederick, MD who had recently finished a Public Art Master Plan for Hagerstown, MD to visit Cumberland to explain how such a plan might be helpful in the over- all Mall Redesign. They made a presentation to local government officials, leaders of the major stakeholders in the area and we then had a meeting with the Creative Placemaking Committee.
Recently a contract was signed between the group and the Allegany Arts Council, with financial sup-port from the DDC, which provides that they will: consult on public art and design for the pedestrian mall in parallel with the development of the pedestrian mall’s design, so the mall’s designers are well positioned to integrate public art and artistic design into development plans, or at least the provisions for them, to the extent allowed by the project’s limits of timing, budget and capacity. In addition, and before the pedestrian mall design work, to develop a public art strategy for the pedestrian mall and its connection to Canal Place.
Meetings with the consultants will begin this summer.
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).