From the Bridgeport Arts + Cultural Council bridgeportarts.org
Downtown Bridgeport will be fully charged on Thursday, July 12, with the launching of B-Squared and City Canvases Bridgeport programs, starting at 5pm at McLevy Green. A Circus Among Us!, B-Squared, will celebrate Bridgeport’s famed former citizen P.T. Barnum’s birthday with a wide array of activities from 5-9pm, running in tandem with Downtown Thursday’s music performances by the Rick Reyes Band from 5:30 to 7:30 and Orquesta Afinke kicking off the second half at 7:30 and playing until 9pm. City Canvases Bridgeport will spotlight a video projection onto McLevy Hall by Bridgeport artist Dustin DeMilio at McLevy Green from 9-11pm, which will be kicked off by a celebration of light with the BULB, the Bridgeport Underground Light Brigade, illuminated parade.
B-Squared brings Operation Red Light on the corners of Broad and Bank Streets with dancer Lauri MacLean, a Beardsley Zoo invertebrate demonstration, children’s art-related activities, face and body painter Alicia Cobb, the CT Roller Derby team, local LED lit Hula Hoopers, costumed performers from Connecticut Free Shakespeare and the Downtown Cabaret, exhibition openings at the Housatonic Museum of Art and the Read’s Artspace, movie events at the Bijou Theatre, Birthday Cake for Barnum-sponsored by City Lights and What’s Cooking, a Barnum Museum presentation, music and a painting demonstration with local artist Kevin Conklin in the historic Arcade, a window display competition, among other scheduled activities. Restaurants will also be welcoming guests with their own set of themed events for the evening with the B-Squared after 9 programming.
City Canvases Bridgeport is a twelve-week, large-scale, video projection program that will highlight week-long digital shorts by twelve Connecticut artists/filmmakers. Based on the theme of change, the short videos will be looped and projected on key buildings in Downtown Bridgeport throughout the summer. The videos may be live-action, animated, or abstract films. This public art program will feature artists from throughout Connecticut, including Dustin DeMilio as well as Holly D. Anger, ES Baraza, Kelly Bigelow Becerra, Shawn Corvino, Adger Cowans, Mary Jo Lombardo, Lauri MacLean, Joe Malfattone, Lori Petchers, Ernst Weber, and Yves Wilson.
B-Squared will feature free arts and cultural programming on the second Thursday of every month, year-round, to Downtown Bridgeport to engage residents of Bridgeport and surrounding communities to visit and enjoy the City. Future B-Squared second Thursdays will also be themed and bring an increasing array activities and participants.
B-Squared and City Canvases Bridgeport are creative placemaking initiatives to further and sustain the growth and vitality of Bridgeport’s arts and cultural sectors and the City’s creative economy. Bridgeport is one of three cities in Connecticut to receive a pilot-program Creative Placemaking grant and one of seven cities in Connecticut to be awarded a City Canvases grant by the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, Office of the Arts. Partners in the program are the City of Bridgeport, the Downtown Special Services District, the Bridgeport Arts + Cultural Council, and the Cultural Alliance of Fairfield County.
The grants also provide opportunities and incentives to small businesses through CROP, the Creative Retail Office Program, to develop empty Downtown storefronts to energize vacant storefronts with artwork installations to bring creative enhancements to Read’s Artspace. The Creative Placemaking grant also funded the expansion of the annual Arts Fest and Art Trail.
Kip Bergstrom, Deputy Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, rolled out this “New Direction” in arts-related funding to stimulate partnerships between the arts and culture sectors and other public and private community constituents to expand Bridgeport’s position as a local and regional center for culture, entertainment, and residential activity. Bergstrom cites that, “Great art makes great places. Great places attract great talent. Great talent creates great jobs.”