In July 2014, the City of New London was the recipient of an ArtPlace America grant to create community-engaged arts projects in and around the Middle Fork of the Crow River as it sidles up to Main Street—what is now called the Riverspace Project.

The Riverspace Project focuses on engaging the community, connecting to business owners, and revitalizing an underutilized river front at the heart of downtown by integrating arts projects throughout the space. The project aims to create a more welcoming, public commons through the development of arts activities, seating areas, and walking trails.

Forecast supported New London‘s efforts through the delivery of a specialized three-part, hands-on workshop series focused on training community members to be leaders in activating the Riverspace Project. In collaboration with Riverspace Project directors Jeff Vetsch and Kristin Allen, Forecast’s team developed a “Training the Trainer” education program for 15 community members. By teaching the steps to design public art, Training the Trainer prepared participants to ideate, manage, and implement their own public art projects. Participants learned the foundations of public art making, from how to research and analyze sites for public installations to how to find and work with artists.

Participants will apply for funds supplied through the Riverspace Project budget and implement arts engagements at the site ranging from temporary to permanent works of art. These works will come to life over the summer into 2016.