August 23, 2019 | By Sarah Telesca
Outside the Box, Within the Community
The Clearwater Arts Alliance is expanding the scope of its “Think Outside the Box” project to involve Clearwater residents.
Those colorful cubes you might’ve seen on the side of the road? They’re part of the Clearwater Arts Alliance’s (CAA) Signal Box Art Program, which for the past few years has been contracting with local artists to brighten up the city.
Now, the city of Clearwater is opening up the project to residents and neighborhoods in the hopes of community commingling and bringing more art to the streets.
CAA’s president Beth Daniels noted the impact that art can have on drivers’ daily traffic-ridden commutes: “The aim is to inject some fun into the streetscape,” she explains. “A lot of cities… pay attention to the outdoor design… and it just seems like part of the community feeling that it has a unique identity.”
In opening up this project to the public, Daniels and the CAA are achieving multiple purposes — employing artists, engaging residents artistically, and of course, giving roadsides some much-needed color.
The Clearwater Signal Box Art Program has worked in the past with established Bay area artists such as Ya La’ford, Tim Boatright and Ray Paul. La’ford says of the program, “When you brighten up a corner with the interface of art, you’re not only investing in artists but you’re also believing in what their messaging is. The impact is unquestionable.” La’ford is a fixture in the Tampa Bay area art scene and knows firsthand the impact that art can have — how it can unite people by highlighting shared human themes and desires.
The Signal Box Art Program could also be a great opportunity for you to get to know your community or neighborhood better. The project requires collaboration in order to create a meaningful, relevant piece of art that serves as a point of pride.
Since opening up the project to the public, three Clearwater neighborhoods have already begun projects — the North Greenwood neighborhood is collaborating with artist Beth Warman, Greenlea Otten with Carlos Culbertson (Zulu Painter), and Milton Park is in the midst of choosing an artist.
Check here to see if your neighborhood has an association
that could organize artwork near you.
If you’re interested in arranging artwork in your Clearwater community, consider meeting with your neighborhood to brainstorm, then see if your chosen signal box is available by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. From there, you can decide if you or any of your neighbors have the artistic wherewithal to create the design. If not, consider working with one of the many artists local to the city.
Finding funding is up to residents, but there are a number of grants that can be applied to, or residents can seek donations or sponsorship. Costs for getting the art printed and installed are usually in the range of $500-1000, not including an artist’s fee. Note that it’s likely worth your time to get quotes from several vendors on the City of Clearwater’s approved vendor list, as costs can vary.
Communities that are interested in starting their own project can click here to see all the requirements. The project is ongoing, so take your time organizing the project with your neighborhood — once your signal box is turned into art, the artwork can last up to eight years!