June 4 2013 12:00 AM

DeWitt, St. Johns and Meridian Township each land $10,000 grant for public art installations, the latest in LEAP’s public art program

Rotary Park in St. Johns, the future site of a public art sculpture, to be commissioned with grant funding by LEAP.
Tuesday, June 4 — Although several Lansing-area galleries display the works of local artists, public outdoor sculptures in the smaller outlying communities are less typical. But that’s changing.

Three local communities — St. Johns, Meridian Township and the city of DeWitt — have been chosen to receive $10,000 each toward funding new sculptures that will be placed in each community’s downtown.

As part of the Lansing Economic Area Partnership’s Public Art for Communities grant, these three areas have recently undergone a selection process in which a seven-member panel considered the benefits of having a sculpture piece in each community. It’s the second round of grants awarded by the economic development agency: Mason and DeWitt Township were each selected for $10,000 grants in December.

The selection committee took a variety of community characteristics into account when forming its decision. Judges evaluated traffic numbers, possible business impact and several other economically driven aspects of their communities.

“Arts and culture permeating throughout a region show vitality and a progressive nature to residents and visitors in that community,” said project co-chair Julie Pingston. “The sense of place that is created will translate into job opportunities, workforce attraction and new visitors to our community.“

Locations for these sculptures were critical in each area’s proposals. Rotary Park in downtown St. Johns will be the display area for this project, as will Memorial Park in downtown DeWitt. Meridian Township plans to exhibit its sculpture in the roundabout of downtown Okemos.

Although the specific sculpture choices for these locations haven’t been finalized, each sculpture is expected to both represent the community as well as encourage progress.

Also, the sculpture isn’t the only part of this project seeking to promote community growth. As part of the grant requirements, each participating community is expected to have its local governing board approve a “public arts policy” to help continue placemaking beyond this project.

Mason and DeWitt Township are over a month into the decision-making process and will soon be finalizing artist and sculpture selections.

LEAP hosts a press conference today at 10 a.m. at (Scene) Metrospace in East Lansing to announce the latest winners.