STATEN ISLAND — Free concerts and "sound sculptures" will come to public spaces around the North Shore as part of a multi-year project to shape the way things look amid a wave of redevelopment.
Staten Island Arts, along with the Design Trust for Public Space, announced the two pilot programs as part of their "Future Culture: Connecting Staten Island's Waterfront" project that aims to create a "cultural plan" for public spaces along the North Shore.
"These projects are going to challenge public and private stakeholders to devise creative solutions to community challenges," said Elizabeth Bennett, executive director of Staten Island Arts.
The selected projects include "Courtyard Fridays," which will bring four concerts to the underutilized courtyard between Borough Hall and the former Staten Island Supreme Courthouse in St. George next summer.
Kevin Washington, a retired firefighter and member of Community Board 1, said he often passes by the courtyard near Borough Hall on the way to the Staten Island Ferry and felt it could be used more by residents.
"At some point during that travel it dawned on me. I said, 'This would be a nice spot for people to come together, meet, talk,'" said Washington, of St. George. "I think it'd be like a mini-Bryant Park."
Washington teamed up with his brother-in-law Homer Jackson, director of the Philadelphia Jazz Project, to develop the idea for concerts at the locations.
The pilot would include four concerts during the summer of 2018 featuring a mix of world-class jazz, afro beat and funk musicians, with with local acts opening.
The other project selected was "Sonic Gates," a series of sound sculptures — or sculptures that emit sounds— by Staten Island-based composer and media artists Volker Goetze.
Goetze will work with several artists to install eight of the sculptures at various spots around the North Shore with maps directing people toward them in an attempt to get visitors to explore the area more.
The spots haven't been selected yet, but they will kick off next summer with music, dance and theater performances.
Last year, the groups launched the "Future Culture" project as a way to use public art to link different areas in the wake of mega-projects taking over the waterfront.
The organization teamed up with developers behind the projects — Empire Outlets, New York Wheel, Urby Staten Island and Lighthouse Point — as well as local artists, residents, groups and city agencies to help plan the public spaces.
Using a city Small Business Services grant to fund them, the group put out a call to create two pilots based on the recommendations developed from the project.