City of Sault Ste. Marie moves to revitalize downtown core with public art project
SAULT STE. MARIE -- If you have art you would like to have displayed downtown, the City of Sault Ste. Marie wants to hear from you.
Submissions are being accepted for a project along the Paul Mall Alley, where six pieces of art will be chosen and displayed for the public to see.
"Arts and culture is one of the hardest-hit industries (throughout the pandemic), so we're looking to support our local artists by giving them opportunities to be recognized and known," said Todd Fleet, art and culture coordinator at City of Sault Ste. Marie.
Fleet says the project to spruce up the alley is part of a larger revitalization project for the city's downtown core.
"We intend to have a few more of these set up around the city," said Fleet. "We want to make downtown desirable to everyone who lives and visits here."
The city notably has been ramping up on its tourism advertising with hopes of attracting more people to the area, but Fleet said the long-term goal is to give visitors a place to visit downtown, with the hope of enticing them to stay.
"I think this is a really important project for the city to have, especially for young, emerging artists like myself," said Sam Pine-Bennett, a local artist. "The fact that it's also free to enter, without fees, is a huge bonus as well, so I don't have to take money out of my own pocket for people to see my work."
Pine-Bennett said that is a huge reason why she submitted her work to the project.
"I really hope my work is chosen to be displayed because I think it would really be important for our Indigenous community," said Pine-Benett.
She said she is a direct descendant of Shingwauk, an Anishnaabe chief who was instrumental in establishing Garden River First Nation, and namesake of the residential school that's since been converted to Algoma University.
"As Anishnaabe myself, walking through those halls while going to school really effects how my art style has developed," said Pine-Bennett. "So I think it's important that they have an opportunity to see themself out on the street, you know, to be able to make that connection, even if it is really small."
Time is running out to submit artwork to the city.
According to Fleet, the goal is to have the first round of display cases complete by early September.