In the summer of 2017, Spark Placemaking began activating public spaces through Spark Lafayette-West Lafayette in partnership with and funded by the Cities of West Lafayette and Lafayette. This is a two-city partnership to activate public places in both downtowns with temporary public programming. Every week we’ve been setting out shaded comfortable seating, chess games, corn hole, ping pong tables, giant chess, and giant jenga for visitors to enjoy. And we’re working with local artists who are paid for their site-specific work and we employ three local staff members on a part-time basis to staff and manage the space with our team. Photos from this program can be found here.
This project began through connections with city leaders made by Indianapolis-based developer Craig VonDeylen of Deylen and Blackline and by Eric Lucas of MKSK Studios. The cities then invited our team to engage with the community and stakeholders and design and test ideas for the summer and fall of 2017. Read newspaper coverage of the project in the Lafayette Courier Journal here and here. And check out a video story from WLFI.
We’ve also been scheduling programming from local artists in Chase and Riehle Plaza in Lafayette on Tuesdays, and Chauncey Village in West Lafayette on Thursdays. This programming will continue until October 31st. More information on the weekly programming can be found here. All programs are free and open to the public. Visitors have been enjoying interactive activities such as yoga, live music sing-a-longs, magic shows, medieval crafts, balloon animals, bike maintenance courses, beekeeping demos, and the Spark Placemaking postcard project. The postcard project offers people a free opportunity to color, fill out, and send out a postcard anywhere in the world. Local Lafayette artist, Stacy Bogan created two postcard images for Spark Lafayette-West Lafayette, that visitors of all ages have been enjoying filling out and sending. You can see them here and here
We’ve had local and Big Car staff on site every day to interact with visitors through interviews, surveys, pedestrian counts, and assisting with local artists’ programming. After the project is completed we’ll be able to show the impact Spark Lafayette-West Lafayette has had on activating public space and on local businesses. In addition to activating spaces in both cities to increase foot traffic and visitation to local businesses, we’ve started partnering with local businesses for the Spark Bucks program to draw visitors into Spark corridor businesses. Local businesses offer a “Spark Special”, that can be redeemed upon showing “Spark Bucks”, that can be picked up at Spark sites in Lafayette and West Lafayette.
So far we’ve seen great results! The project has provided opportunities for residents and visitors to enjoy the great public spaces and businesses already in their cities, participate in creative activities, and to socialize with others as well as learn new things and enjoy new experiences. Stay tuned for updates on the program as it continues!