Call for ideas:
Freese Park Artist Village
On May 23rd, six shipping containers will be installed at Freese Park and Smith Street forming the building blocks of an artist village. What do we mean by that? We aim to gather creative ideas and put them on display in order to bring people to Norwalk’s downtown. Freese Park overlooks the Norwalk River, and is centrally located at the corner of Main Street and Wall Street. Last year, we programmed 9 weeks of night time concerts that served as a pilot for this more ambitious project. The theme is the Future of Norwalk, and we hope to inspire a different way of looking at the downtown area. There are several categories of ideas that we hope to engage.
We are looking for short films that are looking for an audience. A shipping container will be dedicated to film and motion graphics exhibits. This is a public art project and the films should be suitable for all ages, but we have time slots for films that are groundbreaking.
We are looking for a music project that will excite people about live music in the downtown. What we envision is an instrument, like a piano, being installed in the village with instructions on how to play. This theme is good for performers that like to engage with audiences. During the village hours we would expect the organizers would create mini performances that would attract audiences. During the off hours we would like to see random people from the public play with the instrument. The instrument can be anything.
We are looking for hands-on art projects that engage and involve audience. Classes, workshops, interactive exhibits are welcome. Sol Lewitt made art via instructions; you can too. This will likely be the only time, you will ever be encouraged to think about the inside of a box.
We are looking for dance, theatrical, spoken word, acrobatics, fire skills, sword swallowing, or something in-between that will engage and enthrall an audience. Buskers welcome.
We are looking for hands-on history. Norwalk has a rich history of industrial innovation and we want people to experience it. We are looking for historical storytelling at its finest. Character impersonations, touchable exhibits, teachable activities or maybe a project to capture oral histories of Norwalk’s history inspired by photos.
We are looking for an idea that transforms a shipping container into a future vision of downtown Norwalk. The setting, 50-100 years from now. Although quite honestly, anything more current than the 80s would be welcome – even though we hear that retro-80s stuff s all the rage these days. Any discipline is welcome.
These projects should enhance the vibrancy of the area and create new opportunities to engage the evolution of the area.
Norwalk 2.0 has been engaged in programming a series of arts, exhibits and community projects in the Norwalk Center neighborhood in order to improve the neighborhood, support economic development and bring people to our beautiful historic downtown.
Situated at the head of the Norwalk Harbor, this centrally located neighborhood sits at the intersection of Main Street and Wall Street and includes the municipal anchors of Norwalk Public Library and Post Office. This small geographic (and very walkable) area also boasts parks and attractions such as Norwalk’s Town Green, Mill Hill Historic Park, Union Park and Freese Park.
This district is home to regional destinations such as the art house Garden Cinemas as well as a variety of eclectic shops and world class restaurants. For several years, artists have revitalized existing storefronts in the Norwalk Center area and infused new vitality in a blighted and difficult area.
Today the area hosts several arts organizations and many development projects. It is also the site of the newest infill housing in downtown Norwalk since the recession, a 569-unit, six-story development by Belpointe Real Estate, a $250 million investment. Advocates for the area are cautiously optimistic as construction work recently got underway on the 100 year old Wall Street Theatre.
However, the area is still plagued by a high-percentage of vacant stores, particularly along the pedestrian spine of Wall Street. This provides a challenge to the long-standing and pioneering business owners, whose patrons often have to wander past past abandoned and boarded up storefronts on their way to their destination.
Norwalk 2.0 envisions a vibrant downtown – one full of people and activities. As such, we have crafted another innovative program to bring both to this downtown that is poised to be the epicenter of all that is edgy and cool in Norwalk.
Shipping containers provide a low-cost, standard unit that may be adaptively re-used or modified to create temporary, interim uses. Standard shipping container specifications are included in this Call for Ideas. Numerous successful examples of this approach exist including DeKalb Market in New York and Proxy in San Francisco.
Community Need: Creating Relocatable Urbanism
Norwalk 2.0 has recently collected input, feedback and suggestions from community members through a series of workshops, events and community conversations. Priorities expressed by the community include:
enhancing neighborhood identity
increasing connectivity between the neighborhoods and focusing on the pedestrian
experience to and from
wayfinding and signage
pedestrian lighting, distinctive design and architecture
affordable and mixed-income housing and affordable and mixed-income gallery and
live/work space for visual and performing artists
bike facilities including bike lanes and bike parking
Desired events and activities include:
informal markets for crafts and hand crafted goods
informal gathering spaces and space to host community events
pop-up restaurants, cafes and beer gardens (and food trucks) with outdoor dining
incubation space for small businesses
space for education and life-long learning in the arts, yoga and exercise, cooking and
interactive and temporary public art including murals, lighting and projections
opportunities to record and retell the history of the area
flexible, and multi-purpose space which serves the evolving needs of the community
The Freese Park Artist Village will be open to the public Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings for the following 3-week period:
May 29, 30, 31 6 -11 pm
June 5, 6, 7 6-11pm
June 12, 13, 14 6- 11pm
Once you have your idea, you will need to submit a synopsis and some details about you and your team. All ideas must be submitted online by April 15, 2014. Application form can be found at www.norwalk2.org
Each project will vary in cost and size. The most innovative and compelling ideas (as judged by a panel) will be moved forward for implementation. Limited seed funding will be assigned by Norwalk 2.0 on an individual basis depending on budget and number of ideas chosen.
Technical support including site planning, engineering, permitting or other services may also be available as needed.
Standard shipping container specifications are included on our website. Proposals may include one or more containers and modifications or interventions may be architectural, aesthetic and/or programmatic.
This Call for Ideas is open to anyone anywhere. Teams are encouraged to include an artist, architect and/or a design professional.
Submission Requirements – please complete online
Narrative Description. Describe your proposed concept and address the proposed use, modifications proposed and how the use addresses a community need or issue. The narrative should also address the proposed approach to operation and maintenance of the project.
Estimated Budget. Include estimated costs for improvements (if any).
Selection Process and Criteria
Applicant qualifications will be evaluated by an independent review panel that will include an artist, an architect, an area business owner and Norwalk 2.0 board members.
The following factors that will be evaluated in reviewing ideas are:
Aesthetics – 40%
What does the project look like?
Is it innovative and visually compelling?
Will it draw visitors?
Operational Model – 20%
Is the concept cost-effective?
Can it be easily implemented?
Ability to Address a Community Need or Issue and the Goals of the Project – 40%
Does the project enhance walkability and connectivity?
Does the project contribute to the vibrancy of the area?
Does the project meet a unique community need not currently addressed?
Projects that are selected will receive notice by April 15, 2014. Stipends will be awarded to the accepted projects.
Tentative Schedule – 2014
March 21 Call for Ideas Issued
April 11 Application Deadline
April 18 Finalists Selected and Notified
May 23-May 28 Projects Implemented
May 29, 30, 31 6 -11 pm Open to the Public
June 5, 6, 7 6-11 pm Open to the Public
June 12, 13, 14 6- 11 pm Open to the Public
April 11, 2014 at 11:00 p.m. EST.
The Fine Print
Submission to this Call for Ideas constitutes agreement to abide by all the terms and conditions of the competition as determined in the sole discretion of Norwalk 2.0.
About Norwalk 2.0
We provide education and insights into building and supporting the new creative economy workforce. We organize events and activities that support and promote organizations and initiatives that make our downtown vibrant and cool. We encourage a sense of community in the greater Norwalk region through intentional economic development.
As women entrepreneurs, founders Jackie Lightfield and Maribeth Becker have tapped into the growing start-up culture amongst a diverse creative economy and arts community. Our goal is to actively engage and provide opportunity for young people, people in career transition and creative industry professionals to explore new ideas. We have iterated our public arts program to mix historic preservation, downtown revitalization and arts entrepreneurs to engage in building a vibrant downtown.