The arts are poised to take over downtown White Plains this summer. ArtsWestchester was awarded a $500,000 Market New York grant to use the arts as a way to promote economic development and tourism in the City of White Plains. The funds were awarded by I LOVE NY/New York State’s Division of Tourism through the State’s Regional Economic Development Council initiative.
The state grant will help ArtsWestchester to mount the Serious Fun Arts Festival in July of this year, a four-day celebration of the cultural community where art and music will be present all over White Plains.
“The Market New York Tourism Grant funding is a momentous opportunity for us to continue working with White Plains to help brand the City as an arts-centric destination. Artists are key to the City’s creative spirit as we plan for a post-pandemic recovery,” says ArtsWestchester CEO Janet Langsam.
Westchester muralist Daniel Carello says: “This will certainly help the arts community, which has been greatly affected by the pandemic. The financial support and aid will restore enthusiasm and an espirit de corps among artists during this challenging period.”
White Plains Mayor Tom Roach and Langsam were recently on a Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) panel to select a major new work of art for the Metro-North Train Station, which just completed a $94 Million renovation. Visitors coming to White Plains by train are now welcomed to the city by two major art installations by Barbara Takanaga, commissioned by MTA Arts & Design.
Langsam says, “The Serious Fun Arts Festival is the capstone project of more than five years of work and planning in public art. We know this investment in public art and placemaking will enliven the city for years to come.”
The Serious Fun Arts Festival will brighten the city with arts activities ranging from concerts and live mural painting to a public art walking tour and dancing in the streets. There will be sculpture, performance art, massive public art unveilings by renowned artists, family art-making activities and more throughout the downtown.
In addition to Takanaga’s luminescent mosaics at the train station, the 2022 summer arts festival will spotlight new, landmark artworks, including a reflective two-story stainless-steel sculpture by Bulgarian artist Georgi Minchev; a colorful nine-story fabric installation by internationally renowned artist Amanda Browder; a skyscraper-high landmark mural by a celebrity of the street art scene; three sculpture installations by Hudson Valley artists; and more.
The timing of the festival capitalizes on the summer getaway period, during which consumers seek accessible, exciting destinations for long weekends. The event will welcome locals as well as visitors coming to White Plains by bus, train or car.
The festival is ArtsWestchester’s latest investment in a public art program that, since 2020, has provided artists with more than $700K in grants and commissions and delivered two-dozen new works throughout Westchester County.
A version of this article first appeared in the February 2022 issue of ArtsNews, ArtsWestchester’s monthly publication. ArtsNews is distributed throughout Westchester County. A digital copy is also available at artsw.org/artsnews.