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Community Advocacy Organization

City of DeWitt Unveils New Public Art to Enhance Downtown Corridor

Courtesy of Pure Lansing Art Pieces by Dane Vermeulen

The Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP), PNC Foundation, City of DeWitt, DeWitt Downtown Development Authority (DDA) and regional placemaking advocates dedicated multiple new art pieces along the main corridor in downtown DeWitt. The art pieces act as functional benches designed and fabricated by Michigan Imagery, with CNC router work performed by Hirofumi Iha. An unveiling was held this week to celebrate the new benches strategically placed to enhance downtown Dewitt.

“These pieces of functional art add an aesthetic appeal that complements our downtown business district. The City of DeWitt residents are outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy our many walking and biking pathways. Having these benches gives our visitors and residents a place to sit and enjoy our downtown and are much appreciated,” said DeWitt Mayor Sue Leeming. The recently installed benches are funded by a $10,000 grant from LEAP's Public Art for Communities (PAFC) grant program, with support from the PNC Foundation. The DeWitt DDA chose artists Dane and Caitlin Vermeulen of Michigan Imagery to enhance the downtown area. There are a total of six benches that feature geometrical panel designs. The DeWitt Downtown Development Authority leveraged an additional $5,000 to support this project and increase the number benches created. Each decorative bench is accompanied by a fact about DeWitt etched into it.

“LEAP’s Public Art for Communities grants are designed to transform strategic locations, such as DeWitt, through art as an important piece of our overall strategy to attract and retain businesses and talent to the Lansing Region,” said Bob Trezise, president and CEO of LEAP. Since 2012, LEAP’s PAFC grant program has invested $290,000 across the three-county Lansing region, funding 43 individual permanent art installations of varying mediums. Vermeulen’s benches are the most recent addition to regional placemaking success. “It was a pleasure working with the DDA and City of DeWitt to create some beautiful and functional pieces of art for everyone to enjoy. My hope is to draw more people to downtown businesses of DeWitt,” said Vermeulen.

“DeWitt's vibrant downtown has experienced multiple artistic enhancements with the unveiling of several stunning functional art benches. Building upon the success of their previous grant in 2013, which brought a captivating sculpture to the downtown area, this latest addition underscores LEAP’s commitment to the complementary relationship between public art and economic development. Such synergy is exemplified by transformative projects like the mixed-use development at 110 S. Bridge Street, and these latest art pieces, fostering a thriving community that nurtures businesses, residents, and visitors alike,” said Emma Bostwick, LEAP’s Business Ecosystem Director.

In 2015, LEAP formed a collaboration with the PNC Foundation, which focuses on early childhood education initiatives and economic development, including cultural enrichment programs that benefit communities. PNC's annual $10,000 contribution helped expand the program and the number of pieces funded each year.

“PNC’s ongoing support of LEAP’s public art grant program reflects our national main street bank values and commitment to the communities where we conduct business,” said Timothy Salisbury, PNC regional president for Mid-Michigan. “The arts bring us together and play a critical role in supporting the economic vitality of our communities today and well into the future.”

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