Easthampton City Arts (ECA) and the ECA Public Art Subcommittee are pleased to announce a request for proposals (RFP) for its newest public art initiative, The Ferry Street Gateway to the Mills. This project is a collaboration with the Realtor Association of the Pioneer Valley and is funded by a Placemaking Grant through the National Association of Realtors (NAR), with additional funding and support provided by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, the Easthampton Planning Department, and Easthampton City Arts.
For more than 15 years, Easthampton City Arts and the Easthampton Planning Department have recognized the value and potential of public art as a meaningful activator of underutilized public spaces throughout the City—and throughout this time, have worked together to implement and bring to life a growing collection of public art throughout downtown Easthampton. For its newest public art initiative, ECA will create a “pocket park” at the Ferry Street entryway to Millside Park that will consist of the following components:
- A new, original, artist-designed and fabricated public sculpture (this RFP);
- Public seating;
- Wayfinding signage;
- an artist-designed and fabricated bike rack.
*PLEASE NOTE: This RFP is seeking proposals for an original, artist-designed and fabricated public sculpture ONLY. Please read the following overview and guidelines carefully and see the attached site photos for additional information.
The location of The Ferry Street Gateway to the Mills is deeply significant, both historically and with regards to its cultural meaning and significance today. Originally Nonotuck land, with inhabitants and visitors from Norwottuck and Pocumtuck tribes, this particular site, its nearby rivers, and the surrounding area were benchmark locations for hunting, fishing, and connectivity to a broader, regional water-transportation network.
In the early-to-mid 1800’s, mill buildings were built alongside Easthampton’s ponds and waterways, which were dammed and utilized to power the mills. Easthampton’s mills were all primarily connected to the textile industry and included the production and fabrication of buttons, elastics, and rubber that were all used to create clothing and shoes—and largely remained in operation as national and global factories through the 1970’s.
However, as industry moved away from the Northeast, the mills became underutilized and rundown. Beginning in the late 1980’s, redevelopment and repurposing of these historic mill buildings began and continues to this day. Easthampton’s multi-use mill buildings currently support a wide range of businesses, community organizations, and artist studios—of which 51% are considered to be “creative operations and initiatives”, according to a 2019 survey by the University of Massachusetts Landscape Architecture & Regional Planning department.
Furthermore, this particular site also serves as the closest entryway to Millside Park, which draws thousands of community members each year, through daily use of the park and the Manhan Rail Trail as well as local outdoor concerts, performances, and film screenings.
While ECA and the ECA Public Art Subcommittee have designed and crafted this “call to artists” with the intentional omission of a specific theme, we recognize the value and opportunity that this RFP presents to acknowledge and honor the complex and integrated histories of this location in meaningful ways for all residents and visitors. We also recognize the value and potential of public art to serve as a platform for community engagement and education—and we welcome and encourage a broad, diverse range of content in the incoming proposals and applications.
We invite you all to read through the full project overview and to share this opportunity widely through your networks.