The Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development: Office of the Arts has awarded the Milford Arts Council (the MAC) one of only 28 Project Grants for 2020. These grants encourage and support arts-based projects exhibiting artistic excellence aligned with the state arts initiative READI (Relevance, Equity, Access, Diversity, Inclusion).

The MAC’s project grant titled, “Meet Me at the Bench” calls for creatives, artists, and craftsmen to create and install six unique benches re-imagined as artistic and community experiences throughout downtown Milford. These benches are not simply painted or decorated, nor are they temporary figurine campaigns. Instead, The MAC is reaching beyond its pool of artists to equitably challenge, engage, and hire individuals or groups of: engineers, architects, woodworkers, metal-forgers, tile-layers, masons, craftsmen, artisans who exhibit artistic excellence, ingenuity and inspiration.

This grant comes at an opportune time, as Milford Arts Council is headed full-steam towards celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2021. As the City of Milford’s premier arts organization (certified as a 501c3 in 1971), the MAC supports and presents every discipline of the arts to audiences of all ages. The venue, a repurposed Civil War era train station in the heart of downtown Milford, has been offering exhibitions, theatre, music, lectures, written word and dance since 1995. With a vision to “see creativity happening everywhere” the MAC is now poised to bust open the walls, push art into the community and make it accessible to everyone.

“To see art outside, up-close, tangible and accessible to so many people is very powerful,” said Paige Miglio, MAC executive director. “To be granted the ability to produce six such experiences is immeasurable and very important to our organization’s mission to grow and impact our community through our vision. We couldn’t be prouder or more excited to bring this project to fruition, leading us into our 50th year. The MAC has started planning exciting events to celebrate our anniversary and we will begin to roll them out next year, culminating with a Gala in September 2021. The bench project is just the beginning!”

A committee of local artists, city representatives, downtown businesses, and service organizations will review submissions and match them to sites. Six locations have been suggested as bench sites. The committee members include: State Senator James Maroney; Milford Alderman Bryan Anderson; Christine Angeli, Director Milford Public Library; Jennifer Paradis, Director BethEl Center; Tracy Bonosconi, owner of LOVET Shop and DMBA Chair; Carol Kuryla, Metro Star Marketing Director; Nell Moll, Milford Regional Chamber of Commerce; Curran Bishop, Pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church; Bill Bevan, Parks Commissioner; Brec Morgan, local artist and muralist; George Amato, local artist and founding MAC Board Member; and Paige Miglio, MAC executive director and “Meet me at the Bench” project manager.

Deadline for submission is Feb. 21. Final selection by the committee will be awarded by late March, leaving four months for fabrication. Installations by the city will take place during the summer and early fall of 2020. Projects must be designed to withstand the elements and public use for at least 3-5 years, with little or no maintenance.

For details, visit milfordarts.org. Questions may be sent to executivedirector@milfordarts.org.