RIDGWAY – The Elk County Council on the Arts (ECCOTA) has introduced its newest effort to bring art engagement to the community through the installation of a Sidewalk Art Swap in front of the gallery.
Located at 237 Main St., in Ridgway, the Sidewalk Art Swap is a place for the public of all ages to exchange artwork, supplies and inspiration.
“For years, I have had this idea brewing, inspired by the Little Libraries that have become so popular,” said Sara Frank, ECCOTA’s executive director.
“I thought it would be so fun to have a place where everyone could swap their artwork and share spare supplies with one another – free and contactless.
“There will be new little surprises in there every day as people share, and as the collection grows.”
With the restrictions that COVID-19 has put on the organization’s classes, youth programming and in-person interaction, Frank thought it was the perfect time to jumpstart this idea again and put the art swap box in place.
“I wasn’t sure if I wanted to purchase or build a box that looked like a Little Library, or have something that the community could help design,” she said.
“With a little research, I found a company in Harrisburg that saves old newspaper dispensers from going in the landfill.
“It’s just a father and daughter duo that clean them up and resell them to be used as Little Libraries, pantries, you name it. It seemed like our best option because it’s waterproof, heavy, easy to open and doesn’t look out of place.”
The newspaper dispenser box was painted with a simple white finish, adorned with vinyl lettering, a custom shelf and legs to give it a more accessible height.
The first Sidewalk Art Swap found a permanent home right in front of the gallery windows this week. With the right locations, volunteers to monitor the content and public engagement Frank hopes that there will soon be Sidewalk Art Swaps in each community in Elk County and beyond.
“The boxes aren’t cheap, so that’s our first obstacle with putting them in multiple locations,” she said. “After we see how this one functions for a while, we are really hoping to expand to other locations and serve all of Elk County with this idea.”
Everyone is welcome to take whatever appeals to them, and leave artwork or inspiration when they’re able.
If anyone would like to make a bulk donation of small artworks and handmade goods, art and craft-related books, supplies, etc., they can be dropped off at ECCOTA during regular business hours. Donations will be shared as items run low.
If you would like to sponsor a Sidewalk Art Swap box or suggest a location for one in your community, please get in touch with Frank.
For more information about the Sidewalk Art Swap, please contact Sara Frank, ECCOTA Executive Director at firstname.lastname@example.org or 814-772-7051.