Free City Public Art Festival

May 3 - 5, 2013

Chevy-in-the-Hole at Stevenson St.

Free City brought together artists and innovators to a highly visible symbol of the Flint’s ongoing transformation, reconnecting residents to the site and building awareness of its potential as an open space. For a full list of events and participants, see the Free City Festival page at freecityflint.org.

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Free City is a three-day international public art festival that will take place in Flint, Michigan from May 3 to 5, 2013 in and around an abandoned, former Chevrolet manufacturing site known as
Chevy-in-the-Hole.

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FireFly by GeoSpace, 2013. Image courtesy of GeoSpace.

The Theme: Reclaim | Transform

Free City will create a highly visible symbol of the Flint’s ongoing transformation, reconnecting residents to the site and building awareness of its potential as an open space. The festival will feature projects that:

– engage local residents, institutions, and community groups in the planning, construction, and design of installations and performances

– connect to surrounding neighborhoods visually, physically, or thematically

– address the specific characteristics of the Chevy site, including its physical conditions and current uses, its geological, industrial, and social history, and other environmental qualities.

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Chevy-in-the-Hole site

Schedule and Participants

A schedule and full list of participating artists and performers will be posted April 1.

Call for Proposals

The Call for Proposals is now closed. Thanks to the more than 100 artists and performers who proposed projects for the festival.

About the Chevy site

Chevy-in-the-Hole is a roughly 130-acre area adjacent to the Flint River just northwest of downtown Flint, situated between major institutions such as Kettering University, the University of Michigan-Flint, and Hurley Hospital. An active GM factory, a tool & die metal shop, is stationed on the southern edge. The name Chevy-in-the-Hole refers to the site being in a flood plain 10-20 feet lower than its surroundings.

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Free City will be centered around Stevenson Street, which will be closed temporarily for the festival, and a portion of the site known as Parcel D. (See the Site Map below for more details.)

The site has major historic significance: sit-down strikes at the site in the mid-1930s led directly to GM recognizing the UAW in 1937, and were a major factor in the birth of the U.S. labor movement. In the 1960s, the site along with three other Flint industrial “campuses” employed nearly 90,000 people. However, layoffs followed throughout the 1970s and 1980s, and all but one building at the Chevy site were demolished in 2004.

Today, the Chevy site is considered a key piece to Flint’s future. The City of Flint has received funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to plant more than 1,000 trees that are helping to clean up the soil. The City is also processing several tons of leaf waste and other organic matter for compost. Both activities are symbols of rebirth that are also helping to speed the site’s future re-use.

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Chevy site and the surrounding area

Chevy-in-the-Hole may one day be developed as an open space, or for new homes and businesses. However, that kind of development will take many years to unfold. In the meantime, the site is safe for most kinds of temporary activities and uses. Its central location and visibility from all points around it make it an ideal place to showcase the city’s overall transformation through public art and temporary structures.

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Free City site map

See more Chevy site photographs.

For more information about the site, please see Reimagining Chevy-in-the-Hole (PDF)