SCRIPPS PARK PROJECT
Having fun at the 1st Access Arts Scripps Park Art Exhibit in 2011. The swing was part of an installation by one of our youth art lab students.
What started over a beer between Brian Shellabarger, President of Woodbridge Neighborhood Development Corporation (WNDC), and Dominic Arellano, Executive Director of Forward Arts, has blossomed into a full-blown community effort to return Anna Scripps Park to its beautiful and striking self. All through art. Woodbridge Neighborhood Development Corporation and Forward Arts have teamed up to bring Access Arts' public art exhibitions to Scripps Park to provide conduit for park stakeholders to come together.
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“Brian and I had a beer and he put the idea in my head about doing something at Scripps that would help revitalize the park.” says Arellano, “I told him I would let it roll around in my head for a while. Originally they wanted to do music, but I thought it might be too time intensive and costly.” Taking what the Access Arts program does at Belle Isle and combining it with an idea inspired by a NY Times article on Detroit’s Design 99 group, Dominic pitched the idea to Brian and Louis Casinelli, the Director of the Access Arts program which also produces the Belle Isle Art Exhibit. “They both loved it.”
Volunteers helping make a difference at Scripps Park, almost 60 people came out!
The results so far being 2 open air public art exhibits, four 8-10 week youth art labs, many improvements and resources for the park and 18 organizations coming together to work on the project in Detroit's Woodbridge neighborhood. A life long Detroiter, the exhibits are curated by Casinelli. He says the exhibits are helping address other issues. “The point of doing the exhibitions and youth education program was to get the all the community stake holders to the table and talk. We wanted to use art as a means to start the conversation and momentum to address issues the park and neighborhood face.“
The successes of using the exhibit as a vehicle of park renewal and community engagement has been clear. The park is much cleaner with community clean-ups organized behind the exhibit, maintenance has been established like timely grass cutting and trash pick-up, the park has had capitol improvements like park benches and the east wall getting repaired, a sensory garden getting installed, additional members added to our Friends of Scripps Park, quality public programs for 2012 being planned and Scripps Park committee and many organizations behind it. President of WNDC Brian Shellabarger, “We’ve had so much more interest in the park than we’ve ever had, its great. Everybody is pitching in from residents, churches, businesses and other organizations. The April park clean-up had the most amount of people to ever participate.” WNDC through Friends of Scripps Park is committed to supporting a safe and maintained public space in the Woodbridge neighborhood through collaborative initiatives.
The two exhibits and four youth art workshops of 2011 were funded by the Michigan Council of Arts & Cultural Affairs, Lear Corporation, Wireless Approval Consultants, AmeriCorps, WNDC, Forward Arts, Detroit Parks and Recreation and 71 individual donors via The Point. Access Arts Detroit's education program was achieved through additional support by Detroit Public Library Frederick Douglass branch at Scripps Park, Wolverine Human Services and YouthVille Detroit.
Services provided by Forward Arts and it’s program Access Arts Detroit have included project strategy and planning, marketing, resource development, organizational ambassadors and administration of exhibits. An estimated $12,000-$15,000 in resources was raised in our first year. Next is addressing lighting issues in the park and creating a professional master plan.
More than 15 organizations and stakeholders of the park have come together. Spirit of Hope Church, I Am My Brother’s Keeper Pilgrim Church, Woodbridge Pub, Motor City Casino, Detroit Parks Coalition, Greening of Detroit, Woodbridge Citizens District Council, Woodbridge block clubs and dozens of its citizens and more from North Corktown, City of Detroit, 7 sponsors and 2 art workshop supporters listed above have all come to the table and taken interest and supported the project with others still coming on board. “The response and support for it has been amazing.” says Louis Casinelli, Director of the Access Arts program.
The Friends of Scripps Park committee consists of Director of Forward Arts’ visual arts and education program Access Arts Detroit Louis Casinelli, President of Woodbridge Neighborhood Development Corporation Brian Shellabarger, Dominic Arellano of Forward Arts, Annie Spence, Sophie George, Nicole Stagg and Kate McKelvey.
For more project information please visit www.accessartsdetroit.org/scripps-park, or email info@ForwardArtsDetroit.org.
Friends of Scripps Park meeting at Detroit Public Library Frederick Douglass branch. Stakeholders come together and join the discussion and planning.