In 2014, from May through October, Flint Public Art Project will lead six monthly parades in partnership with the Neighborhood Restoration Coalition.
The Neighborhood Art Parade brings together Northside residents with artists and performers for monthly walks and gatherings to help reclaim the streets for the community. Each parade features art and performance elements—marching bands, jazz musicians, dancers, spoken word poets, and site-specific installations—making each event a movable, free performance series. Each month’s walk takes a different route, marked by ephemeral markers such as balloons, painted yard signs, and temporary installations, as well as more permanent elements such as planters. Each walk culminates in a block party that is open to everyone.
Neighborhood leaders serve as community organizers for the events, recruiting residents as well as local businesses and institutions to participate as anchors along the route. A local resident may open her home to describe the neighborhood’s history and current issues, or a restaurant may serve as a final stop for participants for a communal meal. The walks began with residents from the immediate neighborhood, then gradually grew to include residents citywide—bringing together people both within the Northside and from around the city to join in the process of revitalization.
Long-time Flint residents remember social clubs that used to bring neighbors and performers together for walks on the Northside. Neighborhood Art Parade revives this tradition, creating a fun, ceremonial experience to increase public safety and community cohesion.