Driving around Greater Lansing, MI, commuters may be surprised to discover 672-square-foot works of art on area billboards that normally carry advertising.
These artful billboards can be found in the sky along the highways leading into Michigan’s capitol city, near highly trafficked shopping centers, and outside local neighborhoods, all transforming traditional advertising spaces into an artful visual display.
These billboards, which were all launched as an initiative to bring art to the masses via the medium of outdoor advertising, is made possible through a program called Art In The Sky, a unique partnership between the Arts Council of Greater Lansing and local advertising company, Adams Outdoor Advertising, highlighting the local arts community.
Debuting in March 2011, Art In The Sky billboards have been installed in various locations around the Greater Lansing region. To date, Adams Outdoor has donated space to local artists, each of whom have received an Individual Artist Grant from the Arts Council of Greater Lansing. A panel of peer reviewers selected the artists’ respective applications to receive funding for a specific arts project with a local public component. Grantees were selected on artistic merit and the potential impact of their public project upon the community.
To participate in the Art In The Sky program, grantees are given the opportunity to have one of their artworks produced into a 14’ x 28’ vinyl billboard. The arts council coordinates those who want to participate and prepares the images for production, with each billboard being standardized to offer brand consistency.
Adams Outdoor produces the large vinyl image, stores it, and installs it at locations that are not currently being occupied by a client. Through Adams Outdoor’s generosity, and a financial subsidy from the arts council, artist participants only pay $100 for their billboard.
Once produced, billboards may be in rotation for up to two years, initially installed outside of the county to attract visitors, and are then moved periodically to different locations throughout the Greater Lansing region on an as-available basis by Adams.
To date, nine vinyl billboards are in rotation, each featuring a different Individual Artist Grantee’s work. The billboards are visually attractive, and have helped raise awareness about the artistic talent in the region. The billboards have also created temporary outdoor “public art” in places where vacant billboards might once have stood. The result has been a win-win-win for all involved—the arts council, Adams Outdoor, and each of the local artists.
Additionally, the Art In The Sky program also serves to support the work of the arts council and its implementation of its regional cultural economic development plan titled: Arts Works: A Collaborative Cultural Economic Development Plan for Greater Lansing’s Urban Center.
This plan, launched in 2009, includes strategies to work collaborative with area partners to grow creative enterprise, integrate the arts into regional placemaking initiatives, and support the regional business community in attracting and retaining talent by highlighting our vast arts and cultural amenities.
Through the partnership with Adams Outdoor, the Art In The Sky program touches upon each of these strategies by creating awareness of our local artists in an effort to build and sustain their creative businesses, and by supporting the community-at-large by offering “public art” that defines place and attracts business and visitors to our region.
Through these and other great community partnerships, we know we are well on our way to becoming the Midwest’s most welcoming and supportive destination for creative innovators and entrepreneurs—and we are having lots on fun along the way.