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Linking to the rich art heritage that thrives in many neighborhoods in Metro New Orleans, Community Visions Unlimited has adopted a plan to revitalize Metro New Orleans neighborhoods with an Arts focus.
The Metro New Orleans Street Gallery is a project aimed at creating beauty and economic development through works of art.
The utility art box program has created commissions for many of our artists. It also creates a sense of pride for people of all ages and nationalities in the community. Over $100,000 has been raised to pay the artists and for paint materials. This creates economic impact on our neighborhoods and city.
People enjoy the boxes and are now taking tours of areas where they are located. CVU hopes to have all boxes in the Metro area painted within the next few years.
CVU has just signed agreements with Jefferson Parish, Kenner and St. Bernard to expand the project to increase the beauty! We are looking for artists who live in Metairie, Kenner and now St. Bernard to be included in the project.
This goal of economic improvement through art fits perfectly into Community Visions goal of revitalization of neighborhoods while assisting the local art community to rebuild. Local artists as well as members of the community will be invited to donate their time and talent to create colorful graphic designs onto street utility boxes.
1. Tell me a little more about y’all.
It started in 1994 in Faubourg St. John. We had over 100 vacant and blighted properties in and 4 by 5 block area. It wasn’t great. I founded Community Visions and planted trees and got three community gardens going. It was a way to revitalize the area. Things some people take for granted can really make a lasting impact.
Post Katrina, I moved to Lakeview and it was ghost town. I started to notice the utility boxes – they were everywhere and very unattractive. Susan Guidry was vital in getting this project going. The city said we could do this project, so long as we had the neighborhood’s permission.
All of the utility boxes are approved by the neighborhoods and they have a say as to what goes onto the boxes as well.
Any artist can sign up. We tell you theme and you will submit a rendering. The art committee and neighborhood representatives choose the winner of the box. No one knows who the artist is either. It’s kept anonymous as it’s a democratic process.
We have 203 boxes done now.
CVU is also looking for a publisher for a book that has brief history of each neighborhood, pictures of boxes and location and bio of each artist. This would help locals and tourists alike visit other neighborhoods in the metro area.
2. How long has this been going on?
We started the process in 2008 and the first box was created in 2009 or 2010.
3. How do people find you online?
4. What is lesser known about your business that you wish more people knew?
We need money! We truly depend on the kindness of strangers to pay for supplies and pay the artists.
5. Lagniappe Info.
When we have permission, we like to do nods to people in the neighborhood.
The original mission with the boxes was to help artists get back on their feet and to get them noticed.
The entire organization is volunteer based. No one gets paid except for the artist.
The majority of our funds go towards paint and supplies for the boxes.
We find that areas that have the painted boxes, tend to have less litter. People seem to respect the art.