The downtown revitalization effort in Springdale made a colorful advance Wednesday (Dec. 2) morning as school, city and business officials unveiled the city’s first public mural that was created by local school children as part of a partnership with Art Feeds.
Art Feeds, a national organization facilitating chapters throughout the country, exists to feed creative development and facilitate emotional expression through art and community. The organization has worked with 28,000 children to date. This was the organization’s 21st mural.
Designed by all 568 students at Parson Hills Elementary School in Springdale – and documented by Springdale’s Helen Tyson Middle School EAST Initiative students – the mural is now on the east wall of First Security Bank in Shiloh Square. It faces the Razorback Greenway Trail, as well as what will become public gathering green space.
“It’s so exciting to see what is the beginning of (having) public art in downtown Springdale,” said Misty Murphy, the newly hired executive director of Downtown Springdale Alliance. “This mural illustrates the wonderful partnerships that exist in downtown Springdale. It’s fantastic to see the school district, local business and our trails working together to create vibrant spaces downtown. Art is a key part of thriving communities, and I’m excited our young artists will have their art displayed in the heart of Northwest Arkansas.”
Another step in the revitalization efforts comes later this month when the Springdale City Council votes on the final master plan for downtown revitalization. The plan comes after months of focus groups and many planning meetings, she said. A closer look at the master plan is available on the Alliance website.
Springdale Mayor Doug Sprouse also spoke about the importance of public art as part of revitalization, saying that many people consider public art a feature that improves quality of life and education in a community.
“Public art is a part of any successful downtown development,” he said. “This is just the early stages of that here and it’s a great first step.”
Meg Bourne-Hulsey, founder and CEO of Art Feeds, thanked First Security for partnering with them on the project.
“Having the mural on display to all who travel through downtown will give students the understanding of how important their ideas are,” she said.
Mike Morgenthaler, president of First Security Bank, said the public art is “very much tied to the downtown initiative.” He said the bank also has begun leasing space to local businesses behind its Springdale branch. Core Brewing and Phat Tire are signed up to be tenants.
“Our branch has been here many years,” he said, adding that the bank is pleased to participate in the excitement of the downtown atmosphere and they’ve also been a part of the downtown alliance. “We’re pleased to see more people becoming engaged in the revitalization process. … We want people to feel like this is their town.”
The title sponsor of the mural is the Sharon and Jerry Berkstresser Fund. More than 20 community volunteers and organizations contributed toward the effort, according to a press release. A plaque with a QR code will soon be mounted under the mural that provides information about the mural and the curriculum involved in its creation.