Art in Public Spaces is part of our community-wide revitalization and rebuilding effort. We develop art forms to bring together residents, volunteer organizations and businesses. This creation of a unified vision in the heart of the community is achieved with festivals, large sculptures or immersive experiences.
Dear Tamaqua – Tamaqua in New Light, was developed from a TED Talk presented in 2014. The notion of giving our community a voice and the abilityty to share it became urgent. A partnership with Touchstone Theater — Bethlehem, led by Tamaqua native James P. Jordan gave us the coaching we needed to pull off our first large-scale public initiative. Spanning two years of planning and culminating in a one mile immersive walking experience in the center of town, the project gave visible evidence of the collision of our past, present and future.
The event was so well received that we immediately began asking ourselves, “What’s next?”
Tamaqua Has Heart was truly a project of love; the love of volunteers who wanted our community to love itself and focus on our positive, nurturing characteristics.
Led by volunteers Kyle Whitley and Wandie Little, the project was modeled after the Cat’N Around Catskill public art exhibit in Catskill, New York. With however, our own twist. Our project took one-and-a-half years to complete and included a summer-long display of large fiberglass hearts in the downtown. We brought in new partners, more artists and invited people near and far to stop and take notice. From the very young to the very old, each heart inspired personal connections that, we believe, will never be forgotten.
Raw Aspirations planning began while Tamaqua Has Heart was still unfolding. This time, we sought to partner with another arts community in a neighboring town. The Arts Barn of Orwigsburg jumped right in by providing artists skilled in working with raw materials and natural curiosities. This summer-long display sought to manifest in a tangible way the dreams of “hope for the future” within our community. The cross-collaboration of artists, art venues and towns was important. As we assess the achievements of individual towns, we find the most successful communities remain so based on forging meaningful partnerships with others in the region.
Art of Escape Tamaqua started in conversations in our local High School with students who are part of the Raiders Step-Up Club. While the Community Arts Center offers many activities and events, students have a difficult time making a connection. So this project sought to use students as developers of puzzles, clues, designers and organizers of a temporary escape room. Working alongside professionals allowed relationships and skills to be built by our young people, giving them transitional advantage once they graduate high school. The program also serves as a preventative against drug and alcohol use.