FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Northampton Mayor’s Youth Commission Announces BenchWalk 2015

An event aimed at bringing art to the downtown area and celebrating Northampton

NORTHAMPTON, Massachusetts -- (April 16, 2015) -- Today, the Northampton Mayor’s Youth Commission announced BenchWalk 2015, The Summer Restival, a celebration of art and public space. BenchWalk is a public art project funded by local businesses, organizations, and residents. Artists and Northampton schools will be invited to create unique and imaginative paintings on the benches of downtown Northampton later this spring. Awards will be given to the artists for originality and creativity.

BenchWalk will be a great opportunity to bring more public art into downtown Northampton and for artists and the greater Northampton community to connect,” said Youth Commission Co-Chair, Mariel Lutz. “We want BenchWalk to showcase the many talented artists in our community and celebrate our city.

The Youth Commission, through donations from local businesses, will be paying selected artists to paint the benches of downtown Northampton. Each artist will be paid a stipend of $200-$450. Artists will have a period to submit proposals before they are judged by a jury and narrowed down to the best designs. During May, there will be a time period for artists to paint the benches.

BenchWalk was inspired by a similar project discussed in 2005 by the Youth Commission. Additionally, the recent challenges facing Northampton’s downtown area helped reignite the Youth Commission’s determination to create BenchWalk and celebrate public space.

The Youth Commission has worked closely with the Northampton Arts Council, Department of Public Works, and Mayor’s Office in designing and launching BenchWalk. Additionally, the Youth Commission has worked with local artist David Teeple, who has played an important role as a mentor and an art expert. He has been an advisor for budgeting, choosing paint, and event logistics.

Northampton City Council President and Youth Commission Liaison, William H. Dwight strongly endorsed the Youth Commission’s initiative.

 “I’m so grateful and encouraged that Northampton’s youth have decided to be proactive in promoting the discussion of public space by organizing this creative event,”  Dwight said. “They are taking the lead in addressing a point of conflict and changing it into a celebration of their home, their community.”

BenchWalk and the Youth Commission’s recent sponsorship and vote in support of the Northampton plastic bag ban join a growing list of initiatives the Youth Commission has worked on to improve their community.

 “Not only are we thrilled to try and bring terrific public art to Northampton, but this is also an opportunity to show the amazing things youth are capable of,” said Youth Commission Co-Chair Jonathan Goldman. “I believe this is another example of what is possible when people are motivated, no matter their age.”

For artists interested in submitting a proposal and people interested in donating, please visit www.northamptonma.gov/benchwalk or email nohobenchwalk@gmail.com.

ABOUT THE YOUTH COMMISSION

The Northampton Youth Commission serves to create a means of communication between city leaders and young people in Northampton. The Northampton Youth Commission is a group of people between the ages of 13 - 18 who are interested in working to improve the lives of young people in the community by discussing issues of concern and working to provide solutions. We are always open to new ideas and suggestions to involve youth in the community.

For more information contact:

nohobenchwalk@gmail.com or hampmyc@gmail.com for the Youth Commission and others involved in BenchWalk

Jonathan Goldman- jgoldman@northampton-k12.us or 413-695-8773

Mariel Lutz- mlutz@northampton-k12.us

Bill Dwight- bdwight@comcast.net or 413-262-6710

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