Connecticut Post Mall to host an artist-in-residence space starting in June – CT Insider

Connecticut Post Mall to host an artist-in-residence space starting in June – CT Insider

The lower level of the Connecticut Post Mall in Milford on October 14, 2020.
MILFORD — A Redding-based arts organization is teaming up with the Connecticut Post Mall to provide space for area artists.
The Clementina Arts Foundation will open the latest edition of its Sprouting Spaces program on the mall’s lower level on June 1, mall officials said. Sprouting Spaces will moving into a 1,472-square-foot, previously vacant space near Macy’s lower level entrance and the headquarters of the Black Business Alliance headquarters.
Sprouting Spaces provides free working and exhibition space for mid-career contemporary artists. It is relocating to the mall from another retail location, the Stamford Town Center.
Artists who apply to be a part of the Sprouting Spaces program have their work reviewed by a jury of curators, museum directors and art collectors, a spokeswoman for the mall said. Sometime in May, the jury will award one local artist a one-year residency in the mall space.
The space will become that artist’s personal studio, where the individual can freely create and engage with the public through events and community outreach efforts.
Fernando Luis Alvarez, founder of Clementina Arts and the Sprouting Spaces program, said foundation members “are delighted to enter into a partnership with a mall that heavily invests in culture and empowers its community by finding innovative ways to enhance their quality of life.”
The move is part of a push at the Milford mall to bring tenants that are not traditional retailers to one section of the mall, which is also home to the local chamber of commerce in addition to the Black Business Alliance, which also has retail from the African diaspora.
Providing a home for the Sprouting Spaces program fits the vision that officials with Dallas-based Centennial, which owns the Connecticut Post Mall, have for the property’s future, Kelly Hapken, the mall’s senior marketing director, said.
The move, Hapken said, “is all about diversifying the offering to better meet the needs of our community, beyond just traditional retail and shopping…We’re thrilled to partner with Sprouting Spaces to bring that vision to life with this initiative that supports our local artist community and is sure to be well received by our visitors as well.”
As an added incentive, she said, the mall will offer a $300 monthly stipend for art supplies and materials to the artist who is selected to occupy the space.
While the artist selected to occupy the space in the retail center benefits from public exposure, the mall benefits from people being drawn to visit who might not otherwise come, said David Cadden, professor emeritus at Quinnipiac University’s School of Business.
“The malls are getting the idea they need to move beyond just an endless number of stores,” Cadden said. “It’s something of a novelty and going forward it may make people say, ‘Let’s go see what’s new at the mall.”
He said having the space filled also is clearly better than the alternative.
“Empty space becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy,” Cadden said. “The other stores look at it and feel it’s a sign of a mall being a failing operation. So it serves as bulwark against other stores moving.”
Burt Flickinger, managing director of New York City-based Strategic Resource Group, said the attraction of a mall hosting an artist-in-residence is a reflection of a trend among American consumers.
“Shoppers want to be able to go to the source, to the artist or the author,” Flickinger said. “People love to meet artists, people who create things. It’s one of the reasons why independent bookstores that frequently host appearances by authors do so well.”
For the artist selected to participate in this programs, he said, such an arrangement can be quite lucrative.
“It can quadruple what they normally make in a year,” Flickinger said.
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Luther Turmelle covers business for the New Haven Register and Hearst Connecticut Media as well as the towns of Cheshire and Wallingford. He specializes in covering the utility and energy beats. A graduate of Boston University, Turmelle has held multiple leadership roles in the Society of Professional Journalist, including two terms serving on the organization’s national Board of Directors.

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