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About the Project

The Arches project will be completed using funds from the City of Roanoke and a National Endowment for the Arts Challenge America grant. The application was developed by intern Heather Lyne, a graduate student at Virginia Tech, with work funded through a John E. Dooley Community Engagement Grant.

PROJECT BACKGROUND: The project began by scoping out sites with transformative potential along the Roanoke River Greenway. Identified as one of the most diverse public spaces in the community, the greenway offers an accessible way to extend the reach of the arts beyond downtown and strengthen neighborhood connection to the greenways. Refugee and immigrant families living at the Terrace Apartments were brought up as being culturally underserved and vulnerable. We agreed that the isolated section of the greenway underneath the Memorial Avenue Bridge could benefit the bordering communities through the addition of public art. We will hold forums with the residents to find out what kind of project they would like to see on their section of the greenway. Memorial Bridge marks their closest access point to the public space.

SURVEY WORK: Researcher Heather Lyne gathered data from 288 residents in a 17-question survey.

  • 76% were long-term residents.
  • 45% used the greenway 1-3 days per week.
  • 10% used the greenway every day.
  • Common comments included:
    • Keep it natural.
    • Focus on infrastructure first.
    • Functional art was sited as a priority: interactive, visual, landscape, sculptural, and historical.
    • Hire local artists
  • Involve schools and students.

PROJECT DESCRIPTION: The Roanoke Arts Commission will engage four Roanoke neighborhoods (Norwich, Raleigh Court, Wasena, and Mountain View) through a professionally guided public art project on the greenway under the Memorial Avenue Bridge. We also hope to engage, in particular, the residents of the Roanoke Terrace Apartments. Total Action for Progress, a local community action agency and our facilitative partner in this vision, offers affordable housing and support resources to immigrant and refugee families from Somalia, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Albania, Bosnia, Afghanistan, Cuba, Sudan, Haiti and Iraq at the complex. Memorial Bridge marks their closest access point to the greenway and the proposed site is visible from the main entryway. Local artists will be involved in both the planning and implementation of the project.

MAJOR PROJECT ACTIVITIES:  We intend for community-driven public art projects to bring diverse parties together over the shared aspiration of making the greenway inviting, safe and distinct to the character of the neighborhoods it parallels. Here’s the current plan.




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