Beyond Walls 2018
The not-for-profit place-making organization announces schedule of events for this year's festival and new project to revive Lynn’s waterfront.
Photos by Isaac Subillaga
Following a successful inaugural year that unified Lynn residents, nonprofit and civic organizations, corporations, unions, philanthropists, and government officials in support of a shared vision, Beyond Walls has announced a new, wide-ranging project designed to revive Lynn’s waterfront, making it accessible to residents and visitors alike. The not-for-profit place-making organization also announced its 2018 schedule of events which includes an expanded mural festival featuring 20 internationally renowned artists and more than 40 free events and programs.
Through a partnership with the Economic Development Industrial Corporation of Lynn (EDIC/Lynn)— which is charged with implementing projects that provide employment opportunities and eliminate blighted open spaces—Beyond Walls will work to redevelop a three acre waterfront site adjacent to the ferry terminal on Blossom Street, just off the Lynnway and in walking distance to downtown Lynn. At the outset, Beyond Walls will lease the parcel for three years with the option of a two year extension.
According to founder and executive director Al Wilson, the new seaside park, which offers views of the Boston skyline, will feature shipping containers that will delineate the parcel’s perimeters, serve as canvases for art and house a revolving series of pop-up shops, wine bars, craft breweries, and cafes. A playground with “splash pads” and climbing structures will border a self-guided outdoor fitness circuit and a multi-purpose court that can be used for basketball, volleyball and Futsal, a variation on soccer. The site will also include a stage for theatrical performances and live music. “Our goal is to connect downtown Lynn with the waterfront by creating safe pedestrian and bicycle-friendly access, a vibrant destination, multi-generational programming and versatile facilities,” says Wilson.
Beyond Walls founder and executive director Al Wilson
Beyond Walls has grown from a small, community-based volunteer project to an influential, professionally-run organization. “Last year we concentrated on activating Lynn’s downtown business district through dynamic public art installations and a diverse series of programs that galvanized Lynn, attracted visitors and residents, and championed local business,” says Wilson. The 2017 Beyond Walls Mural Festival was widely recognized for its economic impact: During a 10-day period, the Festival attracted 5,000 visitors who generated six figures in new sales for downtown businesses.
For the second year, the Barr Foundation has awarded Beyond Walls a $200,000 grant in support of the Mural Festival and related programming. “The Barr Foundation continues to be a valued partner and advocate for our multifaceted approach to place-making and we are extremely grateful for their guidance, support and encouragement,” says Wilson.
In an independent post-festival study and survey conducted by WEBB Management, local business owners cited both increased foot traffic at their establishments and a return of Lynn residents to the downtown district, deeming it a lively, safe, and welcoming environment. “Research confirms what we already believed; both residents and visitors see Lynn as a place where they can meet for coffee, go on a date, and generally work, shop, and play,” says Wilson.
The 2018 Beyond Walls Mural Festival, August 6 through August 19— the organization’s signature event—will feature at least 15 large-scale murals as well as smaller, mixed media pieces that will “pop up” on buildings located throughout downtown Lynn. These works will be created by renowned artists from Asia, Latin America, and Europe. Last year, 20 artists, also representing Lynn’s diverse cultural communities, painted 15 murals, some measuring up to 3,840 square feet, all within a ten-day period.
The International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, DC35, (IUPAT) is also extending its partnership with Beyond Walls. For the second year, the Union will once again offer financial and in-kind support, with Union workers creating “canvases” by cleaning, priming and preparing Festival Walls for participating artists as well as providing lift training and certification for all of the artists. “We could not execute our Festival without the investment and tremendous support of IUPAT and its members”, adds Wilson.
As part of Beyond Walls 2018, 12 pieces of vintage neon art are now displayed on downtown buildings and dynamic LED lighting illuminates three underpasses. Lynn Mayor Thomas McGee, an early advocate for Beyond Walls, sees these lighting installations as much more than public art. “Well-lit areas encourage pedestrians to spend more time visiting our businesses, restaurants, shops, cultural institutions, and cafes. Lighting is an important amenity that beautifies our city and helps create a safe environment.”
To coincide with this year’s Festival, 42 free programs staged throughout the city will showcase artists, educational institutions and cultural organizations. “Ghost Signs,” fading hand-painted advertisements dating back to the 1930s, will be restored during the Festival, and in addition, Beyond Walls will once again host Rock the Block, a free celebration which will include gourmet food trucks, music, dancing, beer gardens, and artists at work.
For more information and a schedule of events visit beyond-walls.org.