Across the nation, more than 3,500 entities submitted applications through the AARP Community Challenge 2021, an annual challenge that funds projects that build momentum for local change and make communities livable for all ages. The selection process was highly competitive with only 244 projects selected, resulting in roughly $3.2 million distributed to communities, big and small, to help fund quick-action projects. Excitingly, Downtown Lynchburg Association (DLA), an Advancing Virginia Main Street community, was named a grant recipient for the program’s Art Alley, a placemaking project in the heart of downtown Lynchburg.
“AARP is committed to helping mayors, local leaders and residents strengthen their communities so people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds can thrive. Many of our earlier grants have led to permanent changes, and the program continues to evolve. We are proud to support projects this year that focus on diversity, addressing disparities, coronavirus recovery and engaging 50-plus volunteers to improve their communities.“
– Nancy LeaMond, AARP Executive Vice President and Chief Advocacy & Engagement Officer
Alleyways are often overlooked and lack investment compared to other downtown areas. But, activation projects like DLA’s Art Alley have become increasingly popular and showcase why communities should view alleyways as public amenities and connectors between spaces that possess enormous potential to become a valuable downtown asset.
As one of many entrances to the Bluffwalk, a series of walkways, overlooks, trails and staircases, DLA will transform this “blank canvas” into an alleyway that residents and visitors alike can admire and enjoy. By installing colorful art and light overhead, whimsical murals, outdoor galleries and other forms of street art, the alleyway will become a vibrant public art gateway. Art Alley elements will be designed by professional artists across Central Virginia, and DLA recently published a blog post, Meet the Artists Behind Art Alley, for everyone to learn more about each artist and what inspires their work! Alongside AARP funds, these talented individuals and other partners will help the local Main Street organization create a unique attraction and destination in downtown Lynchburg that supports small businesses, promotes tourism and improves the quality of life for residents.
The project rendering below offers more detail about what / where improvements will be made!
Image Credit (AARP lead): AARP