SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – MassDevelopment has awarded a $7,500 grant to Common Wealth Murals (CWM) to help the nonprofit fund an in-depth evaluation of its Community Mural Apprentice Program, which introduced a diverse group of 11 local early-career muralists into the Fresh Paint Springfield 2021 mural festival this past summer. Through the pilot round of this apprentice program, CWM trained 11 participants in the skills and techniques used to create community-engaged murals. Common Wealth Murals is using grant funds to evaluate this pilot round and develop a long-term program model and additional supports for community muralists. The funds are awarded through MassDevelopment’s special Commonwealth Places COVID-19 Response Round: Resurgent Places, which was made available specifically to assist local economic recovery efforts as community partners prepare public spaces and commercial districts to serve residents and visitors.
“Before this pandemic, the vibrant centers of our cities and towns were not only a driving force behind the strength of local economies, they were the places where we gathered to dine, to shop, and to be entertained, and the Commonwealth Places program is one way that we can help these areas bounce back stronger than ever,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy, who serves as chair of MassDevelopment’s Board of Directors. “The Baker-Polito Administration continues to support downtowns and town centers through various economic recovery programs, and these Resurgent Places grants are providing non-profit community organizations with the resources to activate public spaces, boost economic activity, and support an equitable recovery.”
“Gateway Cities across Massachusetts are increasingly tapping into the power of murals and public art to create vibrancy and draw people downtown,” said MassDevelopment President and CEO Dan Rivera. “MassDevelopment is proud to help Common Wealth Murals pilot a Community Mural Apprentice Program that will mentor a new generation of local muralists who will add to the region’s creative landscape.”
Created in 2016, Commonwealth Places aims to engage and mobilize community members to make individual contributions to placemaking projects, with the incentive of a funding match from MassDevelopment if the crowdfunding goal is reached. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, MassDevelopment announced the opening of the first Commonwealth Places COVID-19 Response Round: Resurgent Places in June 2020 and from August – October 2020 awarded $224,965 in funding for 21 placemaking projects across Massachusetts.
In December 2020, MassDevelopment announced the availability of $390,000 in funding for a second Commonwealth Places COVID-19 Response Round: Resurgent Places. Nonprofits and other community groups can apply to MassDevelopment for seed grants of between $250 to $7,500 to fund inclusive community engagement, visioning, and local capacity building that will support future placemaking efforts, or implementation grants of up to $50,000 to execute a placemaking project. For implementation grants, up to $10,000 per project may be awarded as an unmatched grant; awards greater than $10,000 must be matched with crowdfunding donations.
More information about the program is available at massdevelopment.com/commonwealthplaces.
MassDevelopment, the state’s development finance agency and land bank, works with businesses, nonprofits, banks, and communities to stimulate economic growth across the Commonwealth. During FY2021, MassDevelopment financed or managed 416 projects generating investment of more than $1.86 billion in the Massachusetts economy. These projects are estimated to create or support 6,578 jobs and build or preserve 1,909 housing units.