The facelift coming to Maryland Parkway is a step closer to including significant public art components thanks to a prestigious federal grant award announced today.
The Maryland Parkway project -- which stretches from McCarran International Airport, goes by UNLV and the Boulevard Mall, and extends into downtown Las Vegas -- is one of 66 projects around the country receiving $5 million in “Our Town” grants from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Clark County is the lead agency in a collaborative partnership with the city of Las Vegas and UNLV as well as the Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) and the Urban Land Institute (ULI) to assemble a team to research and develop a master plan for public art along the Maryland Parkway corridor. Maryland Parkway south of Sahara, including UNLV, is in unincorporated Clark County, while that part north of Sahara is in the city of Las Vegas.
The NEA grant is for $50,000 but is being boosted by $10,000 contributions each from Clark County, the city and UNLV as well as in-kind contributions from these entities and in-kind support from ULI that together total $101,370. A Maryland Parkway Public Art Urban Design Plan is expected to be completed by August 2016.
“This plan will create a cohesive and creative design for public art along Maryland Parkway that will be implemented in conjunction with the redesign of Maryland Parkway for either light rail or rapid bus transit,” said Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani. “Public art, when done right, will help create a more livable and vibrant Maryland Parkway with potentially more park-like spaces, plazas, more landscaping and the weaving of art into business and residential districts and into elements of infrastructure like pedestrian bridges and streetscapes. The possibilities are just really exciting and endless.”
“Public art is a key part of the continuing momentum and energy of downtown Las Vegas, with exciting projects like Symphony Park and the Fremont East Entertainment District already using art to create a sense of place,” Mayor Carolyn G. Goodman said. “This grant will allow for public art to become a component of Maryland Parkway as well thanks to all the public entities working together.”
A multi-disciplinary design team comprised of architects, landscape architects and artists is expected to guide development of the public art plan. Community input is being sought through community design workshops and the history of the area is being collected to find sites that can support themed artistic opportunities.
The goal is to install art that increases the social capital of the area while building and encouraging community pride and expressions of localized civic character, officials said. This project also will serve to unify and connect the neighborhoods along Maryland Parkway. Another goal includes arts-based community development that drives economic revitalization.
Officials said the result of the design will also build a stronger sense of place by including artistic design in the improved public transit system, streetscape and landscape. The collaborative nature of the planning process will encourage local stakeholders to invest in creative renovation and renewal along the parkway, especially adding livable and aesthetic spaces among the vast asphalt expanse of street frontage parking lots. This sense of place will resonate with local stakeholders and visitors.
The final result of the implementation of the plan will be an incentive for residents and visitors to frequent the businesses along the parkway. If successful, the resulting increased revenue from this use will create jobs in this economically fragile area. The community as a whole would benefit from the increased economic development.
NEA officials said that this year's Our Town projects demonstrate that excellent art is as fundamental to a community's success as land-use, transportation, education, housing, infrastructure, and public safety, helping build stronger communities that are diverse in geography and character.
Since Our Town's inception in 2011 and including these projects, the NEA will have awarded 256 Our Town grants totaling more than $21 million in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
"A national conversation is taking place around how to do community development in a way that is authentic, equitable and builds on existing assets," said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. "Through Our Town funding, our participation with other federal agencies in efforts such as the White House Council on Strong Cities and Strong Communities, and other projects developed by partners like ArtPlace America, artists and arts organizations will continue to mature, refine and amaze with their work to make America a better place."
The NEA received 275 applications for Our Town this year. Recommended grant amounts ranged from $25,000 to $200,000. For a complete listing of projects recommended for Our Town grant support, visit the NEA website at arts.gov. Project descriptions, grants listed by state and by project type, and resources are available there as well.