CAMDEN, NJ — The second grant received by the city this year for community projects will supplement a plan to creatively restore former dumping sites.
A $1 million award to Camden in January from Bloomberg Philanthropies helped jumpstart its "A New View." The initiative is aimed at transforming neglected public spaces into multi-use forums for local art galleries and installations.
Then on Wednesday, another $55,000 award was announced via the "Project Innovation" Grant Challenge, a Comcast NBCUniversal Foundation effort, to winners Cooper's Ferry Partnership and the Rutgers—Camden Center for the Arts.
“In Camden, we are creative problem-solvers," said Phoebe A. Haddon, Chancellor of Rutgers University–Camden, in a statement. "We are innovators and leaders, and these resources are going to allow us to make a real difference as a community."
Efforts for "A New View" will get underway in the coming months, with the goal of showcasing the different exhibits by next summer, according to Vedra Chandler, community events manager with Cooper's Ferry. A stipulation of the Bloomberg grant program, with five cities selected for two-year awards, is the project being completed by the end of 2020.
The city narrowed down its plan to a "handful of sites," Chandler said, within Whitman Park, North Camden, and East Camden. The focus is along major transportation corridors — PATCO, the Riverline, and the Circuit Trails.
Chandler said the sites had to be selected as part of the grant application process.
"There are so many places that can use this activation," she said. "We're trying to help give the residents a different view of these areas of their neighborhoods."
A preview of "A New View" was given at the Camden Night Gardens event last week in hopes to get resident feedback.
The initiative will be led by Cooper’s Ferry and Rutgers–Camden Center for the Arts and a curatorial team that includes Kimberly Camp, Judith Tannenbaum, and Cassie MacDonald of Camden FireWorks.
"We would love to do more (sites)," Chandler said. "We would love to see more organizations take part in similar efforts. We're always looking for additional funding for these projects."
A number of groups around the city are their own spearheading beautification efforts, she added. Separate from the grant-funded plan, Samir Nichols of Superior Arts is looking to establish performance spaces, dubbed art sanctuaries, at similar decrepit areas in the Parkside neighborhood.