FLINT (AP) — Connor Coyne wants his neighbors to tell the story of their community.
The 34-year-old writer from Flint is one of nine artists-in-residence throughout the city’s nine wards chosen to use their talents to see just what role the arts can play in the city’s future.
“It’s really exciting,” he told The Flint Journal recently after meeting with the other artists. “I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect . but I’m really thrilled with the artists we’re working with.”
Funded through a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, local artists and art organizations have collaborated with city officials to hire resident artists like Coyne throughout the city with the idea of exploring the role arts play in the community and how they can be worked into the city’s new master plan — the first in 50 years. The artists come from a variety of backgrounds. To apply for the program, they had to offer ideas of how they would use their own abilities to not only bring art to their community, but involve their community. Each artist receives a $2,000 stipend.
As a writer, Coyne first thought of a book.
One of his ideas is to have residents submit stories about themselves or the community, to be published in an anthology. He’s also thought about holding weekly artist workshops_bringing in experts in different fields to educate residents — and using the art produced there, whether written or visual, to create the book.
No matter which path he takes, it has to involve his neighbors. Having a project that involves the community is a requirement of the job.
“This is art with folks, not art for folks,” said Sue Wook, an arts consultant working with the project. “So, just doing an exhibition or performance and expecting an audience to show up is not what we’re looking for. We’re looking for artists who are engaged with the community for the creation of the work.”