Work on Focalpoint(!) began with the awarding of a competitive grant in 2018 to Austin College from the National Endowment for the Arts. We are honored to be a recipient in this prestigious program! After two years of work, many of our goals are nearly complete, and results will catalyze change for the Sherman community.
Beyond the photos
Though gathering a collection of images has been central to the project, a broader goal was to invite participation by all segments of the community in creating the photo archive. In other words, Focalpoint(!) is a path to more inclusive arts engagement. Since Sherman is a community of increasing diversity, its story can only be complete if those many groups add to the collection. Photographers need not be trained professionals or of a particular background; the everyday experiences of everyday people are at the heart of our storytelling.
Creative Placemaking brings strength
In the Our Town grant application, several desired outcomes for a more livable community were listed for Focalpoint(!):
· Growth in Civic Engagement — through participatory activities that bring diverse groups together for a common goal.
· New avenues for expression and creativity — through community-produced art that will be accessible to all.
· Design-focused changes in policies, laws, and regulations — designing downtown streetscapes that are more human-scale and less auto-centric, and that improve connectivity through a plan for public art.
· Improvement in both perceived and real public safety — through inclusion of art installations, lighting, and wayfinding signs that add human scale in the downtown environment.
Longer term, these livability outcomes will lead to additional investment in downtown, as well as renewed interest in living in or near downtown for its urban lifestyle amenities and lively cultural mix. We can picture it; we hope you can too!