0

Arts district proposed for Washington Street

COVINGTON -- A proposal in the works would create an arts district along Washington Street.

Ashley and Peter Swan, artistic directors for Covington Regional Ballet, went before the Covington City Council on Monday to tell elected officials about their proposal and solicit support.

Property owner Jason Maddox owns a group of six houses just east of the Repairers of the Breach thrift store and is willing to donate the use of those homes for the artists' community.

Ashley Swan said she and her husband moved to Covington about a year and a half ago, and, driving from their home at Porterdale Mill Lofts to the Square, they've noticed, "Washington Street leaves something to be desired from an aesthetic perspective and is not very pedestrian friendly."

They are proposing an arts district that would provide artists with free live/work space for up to a year. In exchange, the artists would be required to give back to the community, through performances, community service or other endeavors.

Swan said free live/work space is a great gift to struggling artists. "I imagine plenty of artists will be knocking on our door saying, 'Yes, sign me up,'" she said.

Artists would be chosen through an application process and they would be required to detail what they want to accomplish during their year in residency, how they will give back to the community, and would be evaluated at the end of the year.

Swan said the idea is to "create a place where people want to come, not just in the city of Covington, not just in Newton County, but out-of-state visitors coming for filming," she said, referencing tourists who come to see sites where "The Vampire Diaries" and other television series and movies are filmed.

Swan said she envisions the street would turn into a "hot spot" for the arts community that brings money into the community. It could be the site of galleries and festivals and performances by artists in residence. "Regardless of what we bring them here for, they are going to impact our city beyond our wildest dreams," she said.

Artists could include musicians, writers, dancers, visual artists and others, she said. There are similar districts in Orlando, Fla., and Dallas, Texas, she said.

Swan said a grant is available through the National Endowment for the Arts that requires that nonprofits and local governments be in partnership and provide matching funds, but with or without the grant, the program is expected to take off next year, with solicitation for artists beginning soon. She said the city was notified in hopes of providing support, but no financial commitment is being requested at this time.

Councilwoman Hawnethia Williams suggested the Swans consult with business owners and residents along Washington Street.

"We want to allow them to be a part of the vision and brainstorm with them so they can give us ideas of how this could serve the community," Swan agreed.

Comments

John 1 year, 3 months ago

Orlando & Dallas have a lot in common - they have a lot more people, active night life, large business & economy, professional sports teams. Most places I have been in like Houston, New Orleans or Chicago that have similar areas they were on basically streets where the speed limits were 25 mph, two lane streets w/curb parking - not a 5 lane road, posted 45 mph that traffics some heavy haulers to/from the two metal recycle centers and This sounds like a "boondoggle" proposal from here. There are no free lunches. The downtown Porterdale district would be a better place near the Loft & river - this area has a bit of character to help stimulate the artists creative thoughts.

0

will 1 year, 3 months ago

This is a great idea just not on Washington St. The Swans have good idea they just need to pick a better location. As for not being pedestrian friendly, Washington St. has people walking all over it day and night. I do not see the people on Washington St. being able to help this Art District. The lofts would be another choice for a district like this or buildings just off the square or Emory St., Conyers St., there are many other choices. This part of town is not where something like this would flourish. This district should be right off the square for the best results. The Swans have a great idea so the council needs to help them with this and not locate this in an area thats already going down, look at the money being wasted in Walkers Bend.

0

John 1 year, 3 months ago

Yeah, right off the square would be a great location, there is an empty building right next to the Chamber of Commerce that would be ideal. The Chamber could count the number of visitors to such a place as it would need to be subsidized by the tax payers of Covington/Newton County - there are reasons for calling them "Starving Artists". Used to go to the Hunstville Unit, Texas Prison Annual Rodeo Championship and there was a lot of great paintings on display that visitors could buy - most of the inmates in Hunstville had plenty of time to develop this skill.

0

babygirl82 1 year, 3 months ago

The Washington St area is as just historic to the city of Covington as the Conyers, Floyd and Monticello St areas, but has always been neglected when any "beautification/restoration" funds are allocated through the city. The city finally half attempted to repave West St that runs on the Sandhill community side. When attempts were made to put a comedy club in the area and parking was a concern, no effort was made to accommodate the issue; however when it comes to parking off the square or more "tasteful areas" for lack of a better word, it appears the work is done almost immediately. I applaud the Swans for doing what should have been done along - include the entire community. If an area is never given a chance to flourish - what do you expect?

0

will 1 year, 3 months ago

babygirl82, what is sad is areas like Washington St. are beautified and restored and the people living in areas like this tend to destroy all the work done to beautify and restore these areas, history tends to repeat itself. I would love to see this area restored but i'm afraid it would just go back to being a rundown area. For an area to revive you must first get rid of the mindset that made these areas undesirable and that is hard to do. Productive residents make an area flourish and grow not section8 and EBT cards.

0

Sign in to comment