City Calls for Art Submissions to Adorn Vacant Storefronts

vacant storefront

Got art? Cambridge wants to put it in empty buildings.

Part of the city’s multi-year retail strategic plan, the Vacant Storefront Creative Design Contest aims to both support artists and improve the aesthetic of unoccupied storefronts.

The Community Development Department (CDD) is looking for submissions of any medium that can be reproduced via a digital file. The department will make the winning art pieces available for property owners to print and highlight in their storefronts.

Five winners will be chosen, and each artist will receive $1,000.

“This is an opportunity for us to bring a little bit of joy into something that has been filled with brown paper, or dark,” Senior Economic Development Manager Pardis Saffari says.

There are 51 vacant storefronts in the city, which Economic Development Director Lisa Hemmerle notes is a relatively low number. The CDD has gathered data and worked with local property owners to determine that there’s interest in the program, Hemmerle and Saffari explain.

“Property owners and brokers could download the files and print it at a local printer, either as interior to the window on boards, or as a building wrap,” Hemmerle says. “From a pedestrian perspective, when you have that continuation of street activation, whether it’s artwork or an active storefront with people going in and out, that really adds to the quality of the experience, versus, say, brown paper in a window.”

Applications close Feb. 8 at noon, and finalists will be announced on March 4.