Pow! Wow! Worcester Seeks to Beautify Downtown
Ten days. Ten murals. Ten thousand visitors.
That’s the goal of Pow! Wow! Worcester, held downtown from Aug. 26-Sept. 4. This 10-day festival aims to beautify Worcester’s neighborhoods through the power of art, as 10 designated buildings become canvases on which international artists will paint murals.
From Taiwan to Long Island and Hawaii – and now Worcester – Pow! Wow! Worldwide has produced a variety of mural festivals that focus on providing event-goers with the diversity of international artists while incorporating the unique identity of the host region in this community celebration. This year will be the first time that Worcester has participated in Pow! Wow!, which will also feature music, artist talks and fundraisers. All attendees have to do to participate is simply walk around the downtown area and enjoy the art and creative expression as the artists create murals for the public.
Kyla Pacheco, director of operations and co-founder of Action Worcester, and Che Anderson, city project manager and a member of the Pow! Wow! Working Group, said they expect Pow! Wow! Worcester to beautify the downtown area and establish Worcester as a travel destination for long-term economic growth.
Pacheco and Anderson first met at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, where they worked together. Both art-lovers, Pacheco and Anderson attended art galleries in Boston, New York and even Art Dazzle in Miami. Through these events, Pacheco and Anderson met Jasper Wong of Pow! Wow! Worldwide. After hearing about the mural festival, Pacheco thought, “Why don’t we bring this to Worcester?” Two years later, after thousands of hours of work and help from dedicated members, Pow! Wow! Worcester was born.
Anderson said Worcester is the perfect locale for this exciting festival because it is a “blank slate” that is in the process of developing its own identity as a city. Originally a manufacturing area, Worcester now has many unique and available buildings and warehouses that are being re-purposed and revitalized.
Pacheco explained that the downtown area was strategically selected for Pow! Wow! Worcester because of the improvements currently taking place in the neighborhood and the walkable sidewalks. Additionally, the works of art themselves will add to the beautification of the community. The universal nature of art is expected to appeal to all ages and cultures. As a result, this free event is anticipated to attract 10,000 residents and tourists to the area over the 10 days, which is expected to bolster the local economy.
According to Pacheco, the purpose of the event is to infuse the community with artwork by local talent, as well as international artists. However, there is also another facet to Pow! Wow! Worcester: By establishing Worcester as a tourist destination and art industry, the city may also experience steady economic growth. Ultimately, Pacheco would like Pow! Wow! Worcester to, “inspire some pride in Worcester and downtown.”
Anderson also wants to reach out to youth and the “transient residents,” such as students and young professionals. He said, “We want to show them that there is opportunity in Worcester.” Since Worcester is already a major college hub, Anderson wants these young students and graduates to stay in Worcester rather than moving away.
Pacheco further elaborated: “Action Worcester looks at economic development from a lifestyle development.” As a result, the emphasis is not just on job creation and making money, but also having a place where people can spend their discretionary income and hopefully opt to stay in the city.
“Don’t doubt the power of creative economies,” Pacheco said.
Pow! Wow! Worcester has been a collaborative effort from the onset, with members in the Pow! Wow! Working Group coming from various backgrounds, including students at WPI and Clark University, event planners, members of the Worcester Business Development Corporation, employees from a local consulting company, the president of the Ecotarium, a marketer from DCU and Home Depot.
Historic Worcester buildings, such as the Palladium, will be transformed with contemporary art on their walls. Pacheco said, “It’s going to look and feel like a totally different city.” She explained that attendees themselves can determine the way in which they interact with the artwork around them. Whether attendees passively walk around the city and visually enjoy the art or chose to attend the art talks and actively participate in learning about the creative process, Pow! Wow! Worcester will be a fun event that all ages groups can enjoy.
Ten days. Ten murals. Ten thousand visitors. The result: one event that downtown Worcester will never forget.
For more information, visit powwowworcester.com.
By Sloane M. Perron