FLOW: A Grant Program for The Port

"Flow: A Grant Program for the Port" graphic with Cambridge neighborhood map.

FLOW  To Bring Sound Studio, Murals, Magical Clouds Of Steam To Cambridge’s Port Neighborhood

Steam that vents out from the laundry room of an apartment building will be transformed into magical clouds lit-up with color. A mural painted right on the roadway of Windsor Street will celebrate the Port. Hip-hop and modern dancers will perform on outdoor basketball courts. A free sound-production / podcast and life skills training studio will be launched for young adults.

These are just a few of the 11 cultural projects coming to Cambridge’s Port neighborhood (previously known as Area Four) as part of Cambridge Arts’ FLOW programming. Funded with $300,000 through the City’s trailblazing percent-for-art ordinance, FLOW is tied to a major City infrastructure construction project to reduce flooding in this neighborhood between Central and Kendall squares. Cambridge Arts has been working closely with the Community Arts Center and other neighborhood organizations to develop this one-time grant program. A committee composed of community members selected 11 projects out of a total of 70 submissions.

The program title FLOW  is meant to evoke the flood-control project as well as the flow of time, the term for being in a positive psychological state (“in the zone”), and the area’s historical connection with the Charles River, whose tides reached into the neighborhood until construction of the Charles River Dam a century ago.

Additional FLOW cultural projects include a mosaic, a wall mural, and an artistic community garden. FLOW programs will teach performance poetry and dance. They’ll help launch a neighborhood steel pan band and a playback theater troupe. FLOW will also support a project to affix life-size animal footprints to playgrounds to invite children to run and leap like animals to begin to learn math concepts like measurement and pattern recognition.

Details of projects are subject to change as they develop. (Download high resolution photos for publication here.) Implementation of all projects will be contingent on review by City staff and the Public Art Commission and dialogue with the community.

News Reports:

Cambridge Day, Feb. 5, 2018: "As The Port endures project against floods, it benefits from art projects known as Flow.

Project Summaries:

Larissa Belcic "A Nocturnal Harmony."

Larissa Belcic

A Nocturnal Harmony: The Steam Vent and the Traffic Light
Project Duration: 3-4 months, 2018
Grant Awarded: $820
A Nocturnal Harmony is a temporary lighting installation that reveals and amplifies a nightly harmony between a laundry vent and a traffic light. Each night at the George Close Building, steam from the laundry room flows over the sidewalk, subtly becoming lit up by a nearby traffic light. The artist will employ sensors and LED lighting to highlight and intensify this urban moment.

Cambridge Carnival Youth Steel Orchestra.

Cambridge Carnival International, Inc.
Cambridge Youth Steel Orchestra and Steel Pan Festival
Project Duration: Three years to establish, then ongoing
Grant Awarded: $40,000
Cambridge Carnival International will establish a Cambridge Youth Steel Orchestra for the Port, host a yearly Cambridge Panorama Steel Pan Festival for 3 years, and find opportunities for the youth to perform around the City. The program will follow the Teens Against Gang Violence guidelines to develop youth leadership through the arts. Older youth will be trained to teach younger students. In addition to steel pans purchased for the Orchestra, youth will make percussion instruments during the project. 

Will Chalmus "We Flow Together: The Port Playback Company."

Will Chalmus
We Flow Together: The Port Playback Company
Project Duration: 2 years to establish, then ongoing 
Grant Awarded: $18,000
Playback Theatre is a form of community improvisation where audience members share true stories and a team of trained actors and musicians enact the stories on the spot, highlighting the ‘essences’ of the narrative. We Flow Together: The Port Playback Company is a program to establish a permanent Playback Theater company with the Port community through training, workshops, and performances. In partnership with Art and Soul Studio (91 Hampshire St.) and other Port organizations, Playback Theater professionals will train community members in Playback Theater techniques and tools for sustaining the theater company. Once established, The Port Playback Company will host public performances, workshops, and further trainings.  

Community Art Center "Home Port" ground mural.
Community Art Center, Inc.
Home Port Ground Mural
Project Duration: 2 years
Grant Awarded: $36,500
The Home Port Ground Mural will be created outside the Community Art Center on Windsor Street between School and Washington Street. As part of the larger Home Port initiative that is branding The Port as a place for connection, creativity and culture, the Home Port Ground Mural will create a safe and celebratory landmark for the neighborhood.   The Ground Mural will be repainted / retouched annually at the Block Party, which will become a neighborhood tradition. Home Port offers opportunity for community based artists, residents, and young people to creatively shape their neighborhood, led by the Community Art Center, a longstanding and trusted neighborhood institution. 

 Critical Breakdown Performance & Workshop Series.

Critical Breakdown / Stanley Dominique
Critical Breakdown Performance & Workshop Series
Project Duration: 2 years 
Grant Awarded: $18,000 
The Critical Breakdown Performance & Workshop Series program provides young people with a safe space to practice and showcase their talent and interests through performance art. A quarterly performance series and monthly skill share workshops taught by visiting adult & youth artists will explore a range of disciplines including poetry, dance, and music. Port neighborhood youth will have the opportunity to learn performance arts through mentorship, modeling, and practice. Supportive open mic events will provide space to share their newly learned craft in a supportive open mic format and will also include others in the community to take part.

David Fichter "Port Neighborhood Mosaics."

David Fichter
Port Neighborhood Mosaics
Project Duration: One-year implementation; 20-30 yr. lifespan for mosaics
Grant Awarded: $29,000 
Port resident and mural artist David Fichter will lead the Port Neighborhood Mosaics Project with members of the Port community, resulting in exterior glass tile mosaics on two buildings: The Elderly and Congregate Housing at 116 Norfolk St. and a second location to be determined. The artist will collaborate with Port  residents of all ages and from different backgrounds in the development of pictorial stories to be realized in mosaic that will enhance the exteriors of institutional buildings. 

Green City Growers "Urban Agriculture and Sculpture Hub."

Green City Growers with Artist Mark Cooper and The Moses Youth Center
Urban Agriculture and Sculpture Hub 
Project Duration: 4 years to establish garden with sculpture; garden training and maintenance; 10-15-year garden bed lifespan 
Grant Awarded: $75,000 
Green City Growers and artist Mark Cooper will install an urban agriculture and sculpture hub in partnership with the Moses Youth Center. Green City Growers will guide four years of garden training and programming with teens, including design, installation, garden planning, and maintenance. Leadership and skills training will be carried forward to future stewards of a garden that can supply an abundance of fresh produce for The Port neighborhood.

Math Talk / Omo Moses: MathScapes + Little Steps, Big Journeys

Math Talk / Omo Moses
MathScapes + Little Steps, Big Journeys
Project Duration: Mathscapes installations will last 6-12 months; picture book, Little Steps, Big Journeys is permanent.  
Grant Awarded: $25,000
Math Talk in partnership with the Design Studio for Social Intervention will create 1) MathScapes—engaging public art installations that promote playful learning, scientific inquiry and quality early math conversations throughout the neighborhood (in cafes, barbershops, bodegas, playgrounds, etc.); 2) Little Steps, Big Journeys, an illustrated book for young children, will feature families from the Port and be designed to inspire, prompt and serve as a resource for adult-child interactions that support early STEAM learning and language development. Altogether, the project will model ways in which neighborhoods can be transformed into resources for education and economic uplift.

 Moise Michel / The Loop Lab.

Moise Michel / The Loop Lab
The Loop Lab, Pilot Year
Project Duration: One year to establish, then ongoing
Grant Awarded: $30,000 
The Loop Lab will be a free sound production studio, podcast station, and creative safe-space where young adults ages 18-25 can share stories, music, and news from the Port community and receive training in life skills, wellness, and emergency preparedness. The Loop Lab will open up new opportunities for gaining valuable employment skills in the expanding field of music, sound, recording, and podcast production. To gain free access to the recording studio throughout their enrollment, students will be required to participate in monthly workshops in life skills. The Loop Lab program will be created in partnership with Cambridge Community Television (CCTV). 

Anna Myer and Dancers. 

Anna Myer and Dancers / beheard.world
The Integration Project
Project Duration: One year, including planning, community engagement, rehearsals, and two performances 
Grant Awarded: $15,000 
Under the direction of Anna Myer and Jay Paris, The Integration Project melds modern dance with the foundations of hip-hop to create two separate but related performances in the Port that explore the city’s cultural and racial diversity. The first, Invisible, is a mixed genre performance utilizing modern and hip-hop dancers combined with three of Boston’s finest poets to plumb the emotional issues of race. The second piece, FLOW, will be an hour-long performance that explores the intricate richness of diverging cultures that have been an essential part of The Port’s history and continues today. By intertwining various styles of movement, the piece will create a kinesthetic language influenced by the upbeat rhythms of hip-hop, laced with the poignant alignments of modern dance. The first performance will be held on the basketball court at Sennott Park and the second on the court at Clement Morgan Park. Each will be professionally lit and sound enhanced.

Andrew Schill mural. 
Andrew Schill
Welcome to the Port!
Project Duration: One year collaborative design and execution of mural; 10-15 yr.  mural lifespan
Grant Awarded: $5,500
Local artist and Port resident Andrew Schill will be working with students at the Community Art Center to create a mural, Welcome to the Port! Participants will take photographs around the neighborhood and then collectively select imagery from these photos to use in the mural design. Students will receive training in spray paint techniques and contribute to beautifying the neighborhood.  

About Cambridge’s Percent-for-Art Program

Implemented via City Ordinance, Percent-for-Art requires that one percent of the construction costs on municipal capital investment be designated for use in developing site-responsive public artwork. With a core focus on increasing the quantity, quality and overall awareness of art in the city’s public spaces, Cambridge Arts has overseen the creation and development of more than 200 artworks. These artworks can be found in a variety of locations including youth and senior centers, schools, libraries, parks, plazas and sidewalks. Artworks sited through this program engage directly with their surroundings to create, enrich, or reveal a sense of place. Each artwork is created in active response to the character and history of its location and reflects the dynamic and creative exchange between professional artists and the broader community.

The City of Cambridge does not discriminate on the basis of disability.  We will provide auxiliary aids and services, written materials in alternate formats, and reasonable modifications in policies and procedures to persons with disabilities upon request.