Crowdfunding campaign launches for Muskegon Rails Project murals

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Muskegon, Muskegon Heights and Norton Shores will soon enjoy a series of murals on two railroad overpass bridges along Seaway Drive with the support of a new crowdfunding campaign.

The Muskegon Rails Project campaign launched on the Michigan-based crowdfunding platform Patronicity, according to the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and the city of Muskegon.

If the campaign reaches its crowdfunding goal of $50,000 by Feb. 20, the project will win a matching grant with funds made possible by MEDC’s Public Spaces Community Places program.

For more project details and to donate, people can visit patronicity.com/mkg2.

“Public art has the ability to beautify long-neglected spaces like these railroad overpasses and create a welcoming experience for passersby,” said Michele Wildman, MEDC senior vice president of community development. “We are pleased to bring this space to life and provide resources for this effort through our Public Spaces Community Places program.”

The Muskegon Rails Project consists of four large-scale murals on two CSX railroad bridges spanning Seaway Drive/Business 31 between Laketon Avenue and Hackley Avenue and between Sherman Boulevard and Broadway Avenue. The bridges are located in the cities of Muskegon, Muskegon Heights and Norton Shores. The Muskegon Rails Project is a partnership between all three cities, the Muskegon City Public Art Initiative, the Community Foundation for Muskegon County, the Howmet Aerospace Foundation and the MEDC.

Four artists, including three locals, have been hired to paint the murals, which will occur in the spring.

“The MEDC’s support for the value of placemaking in Michigan reflects those which have led to the growing public art collection in the Muskegon community,” said Frank Peterson, city manager of Muskegon. “The creative repurposing of these bridges — what many consider longtime eyesores in each of these cities — is another step toward creating a more beautiful and vibrant community.”

Public Spaces Community Places is a collaborative effort of the MEDC, the Michigan Municipal League and Patronicity, in which residents can use crowdfunding to be part of the development of strategic projects in their communities, backed with a matching grant from MEDC. Communities, nonprofits and other business entities can apply for support from the program at patronicity.com/puremichigan.

“Accentuating a community’s arts and culture is key to great placemaking,” said Dan Gilmartin, CEO and executive director of the Michigan Municipal League. “These murals will engage local artists in revitalizing an unattractive space with art that tells the story of the community.”

The Public Spaces Community Places initiative started in 2014 with MEDC providing matched funding of up to $50,000 for community improvement projects throughout Michigan. As of Nov. 30, the MEDC has provided more than $8 million in matching grants. Since the launch of the program, 256 projects have been successful in reaching their goal with $9.3 million raised from 46,045 individual donors.

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