Art Alley Mural in Mason, Michigan by Chris Garcia (Photo: "What's Happening Around Mason, Michigan Facebook)

LEAP Transitions Public Art for Communities Grant Program to Arts Council of Greater Lansing

Transition Paves the Way for Business Ecosystem Initiatives While Continuing its Legacy

The Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP) is transitioning the Public Art for Communities (PAFC) grant program to the Arts Council of Greater Lansing (ACGL), allowing LEAP to innovate further on vital business ecosystem initiatives like our regional child-care initiative.

Since its inception in 2012, LEAP has played a pivotal role in cultivating and running the region’s first Placemaking program, to foster art and culture throughout the three-county Lansing Region. The PAFC grant program, over the decade, has invested over $300,000 in strategically placing permanent public art across Clinton, Eaton, and Ingham counties, transforming the region's landscape, making a place that is more interesting and more likely to keep and attract people and business that relies on those people—customers and a workforce. It is also important to note that the program has supported artists and entrepreneurs in the region.

To date, the PAFC grant program has sponsored over 47 unique art pieces created by artist-entrepreneurs, ranging from murals, alley walks, creative bike racks, sculptures, and more. These art installations have not only enriched the community's image but have also elevated key areas in need of economic development through thoughtful placement. The most recent award was announced in 2023 for an art piece in Crandell Park, located in Eaton County, which will be unveiled in 2024, bringing the total number of art pieces to 48.

“LEAP has been a pioneer in placemaking activities such as the PAFC program, stepping in 12 years ago when there were no other agencies ready to take on this role. This program, as part of LEAP’s holistic approach to economic development, helped dozens of communities think about art, not just for beauty’s sake, but as a strategic statement about its future as a welcoming place for people and business alike.

With confidence, we pass the torch to a more capable partner, which will take this program to new heights,” said Bob Trezise, president & CEO of LEAP. LEAP firmly believes that placemaking initiatives, such as the PAFC grant program, serve as strategic tools for economic development. Investing in various forms of public art enhances economic opportunities and activity, contributing to a distinct sense of place that attracts and retains businesses and essential talent and workforce.

In 2015, LEAP joined forces with PNC Foundation, a staunch advocate of regional placemaking. Since then, the PNC Foundation's annual $10,000 contribution continues to play a pivotal role in expanding the program and the number of art pieces funded each year. "Silver Respite" located in Mason, Michigan.

“PNC’s support of LEAP’s public art grant program reflects our Main Street values and commitment to the communities where we conduct business,” said Timothy Salisbury, PNC regional president for Mid-Michigan. “All of us at PNC appreciate LEAP’s outstanding efforts to make this program a success. We look forward to working with the Arts Council of Greater Lansing on more regional placemaking in Mid-Michigan.”

The arts and cultural strategies, exemplified by LEAP's PAFC program, are thoughtfully designed to create an environment where both current and prospective residents and businesses envision themselves thriving. An integral part of this vision involves the enhancement of significant corridors, gateways, and locations to stimulate ongoing economic development and provide opportunities for experiencing arts and culture. While LEAP has been dedicated to creating a vibrant and dynamic community, the organization now intends to channel its resources toward addressing pressing issues in areas such as childcare, housing, and public transit within the business ecosystem. LEAP remains grateful to its PAFC Placemaking Committee and PNC Foundation. LEAP extends appreciation to the Arts Council of Greater Lansing  for taking the initiative to continue and elevate the program to new levels of success.

“We are so excited for this opportunity through LEAP and PNC Bank," said Arts Council executive director, Meghan Martin. "Transitioning this program to the Arts Council means more funding for individual artists to create arts projects in our region. These funds will allow us to grow our Artist in the Community grant program with more dollars, more opportunities, and more accessibility for our arts community, and we are extremely grateful. LEAP has been a champion of the arts in our region and has supported so much public art in Greater Lansing; we are proud to be able to continue that work on an even larger scale going forward," Martin said.

In order to be eligible for funding, each community had to adopt a public art policy. This policy was intended to guide communities in making crucial considerations when investing in public art, including aspects such as maintenance, installation, insurance, and more. Eligible applicants were municipalities, businesses, and organizations within Clinton, Eaton, and Ingham counties. The LEAP Placemaking Committee reviewed each application and, as a tradition, selected two communities annually to receive a $10,000 grant. Scoring of applications prioritized LEAP community and business members.

"As Co-Chair of LEAP’s PAFC, I'm excited for the program's transition to the capable hands of the Arts Council of Greater Lansing. With their long-standing involvement, it's a natural and invigorating step. LEAP's initiative in granting public art has enhanced economic development, fostering distinctive placemaking installations across the region. As a Board Member of the Arts Council, I'm eager to sustain our region's vital placemaking efforts," said Julie Pingston, president & CEO of Choose Lansing. Welcome Mural located in Williamston, Michigan.

Past recipients of the PAFC grant include the cities of Williamston, Mason, DeWitt, St. Johns, Lansing, East Lansing, Charlotte and Grand Ledge and townships Dewitt Township, Meridian Township, Delta Township, Delhi Township and Eaton County.