Thanks to an opportunity funded in part by the Our Town grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, the City of Billings Planning and Community Services Department is able to contract with local artist, Terri Porta, for one year as an artist-in-residence (AIR).
Nationwide, artists are contributing to community planning and design to improve economic development, road safety, health outcomes, and more. Through the Mobilize the MAGIC City project, Terri, will work with a project advisory committee to develop a formal process to involve art and artists in everyday civic life. Terri will be tasked with advancing the City’s goals including creating a robust and creative public engagement process, promoting economic vitality, beautifying the built environment, and improving safety. At the conclusion of this project, she will have created a minimum of two placemaking hubs along Billings’ first bikeway, a feasibility study for a public arts commission, and a placemaking playbook documenting the successful processes used. The exact form of creative placemaking hubs will be decided collaboratively with residents. Examples of potential placemaking hubs could include street art, a neighborhood gathering space, or a sidewalk stamped with poetry.
Terri was selected from a talented pool of candidates due to her ability to work in diverse forms of public art, her excitement to engage with the public and allow them to inform her work, and her commitment to equity. Terri describes herself as an outgoing artist and is excited to get to know the community better. She has created vibrant public art pieces across our city and region ranging from murals to interactive sculptures. “I have a passion for public art and I love my community and I love seeing the two come together,” Terri says.
While the City of Billings is the official awardee for the Our Town grant, “Mobilize the MAGIC City” is a collaborative effort that would not happen without several very important partners. Terri will also be working with leaders from the Healthy By Design Coalition who are experienced in creative placemaking from efforts on Billings’ South Side; Carolyn Martin Kennedy, a talented local artist representing the Billings Arts Association and Billings Councilmember Denise Joy and the City of Billings’ Active Transportation Planner, Elyse Monat, who will help her navigate the ins-and-outs of local government. National expert, Ben Stone, will also contract with the Mobilize the MAGIC City project to bring his years of experience running artist-in-residence and creative placemaking programs to Billings.
To find out more about how National Endowment for the Arts grants impact individuals and communities, visit www.arts.gov.