In 2003, The Arts Council, Inc. sponsored Create Huntsville – a community cultural plan that identified the city’s cultural amenities and surveyed community leaders and key stakeholders regarding areas for growth and development. Public art became an ongoing focus area for Create Huntsville, and in 2008 The Arts Council, UAHuntsville and Create Huntsville found a permanent home for Skip Van Houten’s Geode sculpture on the UAHuntsville campus. In summer 2009 over 100 community leaders participated in a Big Spring Partners fact-finding trip to Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Chattanooga’s sculpture trails and public art invigorated the discussion of public art and sculpture in Huntsville. In fall 2009 leaders from The Arts Council, Alabama A&M University, Huntsville Museum of Art, Lowe Mill Arts and Entertainment Center and UAHuntsville came together to develop plans for the city’s first-ever sculpture trail.
In early 2010, the partner organizations announced plans for the SPACES Sculpture Trail. With a budget of over $100,0000 and approximately 50% provided through in-kind contributions, the SPACES partners reached out to community organizations and corporations to support this large-scale public art initiative. The Downtown Forty-Seven signed on as SPACES first leadership sponsor, and the Huntsville/Madison County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, RBC Bank, UAHuntsville, Alabama State Council on the Arts, The Huntsville Times, Leadership Connect Class 11 and private donors provided additional support to fully fund SPACES.
SPACES organizers gathered in summer 2010 to invite 15 accomplished artists to participate in Huntsville’s inaugural sculpture trail. Featuring artists from Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Georgia, Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, Indiana, Connecticut and New York, SPACES brings 25 sculptures to six locations across Huntsville for exhibition from December 2010 through August 2012. SPACES is promoted through hand-held brochures and walking, cell-phone, GPS and docent-led tours Residents and tourists alike are also invited to select their favorite SPACES sculpture through the People’s Choice Award competition.
As SPACES has grown, new community partners have come to the trail, and the presenting group of organizations now includes the Madison Arts Council and the City of Madison. This brings about significant growth to the trail, adding 3 new sculpture sites with 8 pieces.
Today Huntsville is gaining national recognition and accolades for its strong economic base, moderate cost of living, and excellent quality of life. Huntsville and Madison County boasts a diverse, well-educated population, minor-league baseball and hockey teams, and over 200 arts organizations, independent artists and supporting entities. The SPACES Sculpture Trail is designed to strengthen Huntsville’s national reputation as a dynamic medium-sized city offering both economic and cultural benefits for the community. Explore SPACES today and discover the newest addition to Huntsville’s arts scene!