Lynn, MA is a culturally diverse melting pot of 90K residents. Unfortunately, the light coverage in downtown Lynn made it uninviting to venture out after dark. But, Al Wilson, the Founder and Executive Director of the non-profit Beyond Walls, initiated what would become a transformative project.
“The idea is that we wanted to literally and figuratively bring art to light. Lighting has been the most impactful part of this project- we stayed away from regular white light that might’ve well catered to the safety component; the idea was to tap into the creative sides of residents, we wanted more inviting public spaces that would instill both safety and greater community engagement.”
Bringing in renowned street artists and lighting experts, Beyond Walls decided to reinvigorate downtown Lynn as the community’s focal point – drawing visitors from across the region. Neon art pieces, street murals, and dynamic LED underpass lighting were set to reanimate the scene with an initial $50,000 donated and matched by MassDevelopment – a Commonwealth of Massachusetts-based development & financing agency. Beyond Walls reached their $260,000 funding goal with an additional crowd sourcing campaign which raised $80,000 – important because state dollars were contingent upon grass-roots, crowd-source funding. In 2017, more than 1,300 individuals contributed to the project in a single day. They repeated their success in 2018 securing another round of financial support from MassDevelopment.
Soon other partners followed suit. Port Lighting Systems coordinated sourcing for all materials, installation and integration of all the systems. IBEW- the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers- Forty retired local union electric contractors volunteered their time and talents for the systems’ installations. Payette, a Boston based architectural firm, provided vision and planning of lighting design using the Color Kinetics range of products. LAM Partners, an architectural firm based in Cambridge, MA, provided design concepts for all systems. At the opening event, a cheering crowd of 500+ community residents, including Mayor Thomas M. McGee, danced to the beats of a local band.
By comparing examples from across the US and speaking with different stakeholders, we’ve identified four categories of potential funding sources.