Public forum to be held to discuss ideas for upcoming downtown mural

Published 2:45 pm Thursday, September 19, 2019

In August, Middlesboro Main Street was awarded a grant from the Promise Zone Downtown Revitalization Grant in the total amount of $60,548. The grant is the result of an effort from the Bell County Downtown Coalition to continue the revitalization project in the downtown communities.

There will be a public forum on Monday to discuss ideas for the mural project. The meeting will be held from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the Bell County Tourism location inside the Alexander Arthur Museum and is being hosted by Middlesboro Main Street. The public is invited and encouraged to attend.

“We are looking for community input on the design of our Downtown Mural. We want to know what you think would look best on the wall of Cumberland Avenue and 19th St,” Middlesboro Main Street Director Emily Ayers said. “If you are an artist interested in being hired, you are welcome to bring your portfolio of previous Mural Work. We will only be looking at experienced Mural Artist for this specific project.”

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The Bell County Downtown Coalition consists of Middlesboro Main Street, Bell County Tourism, Main Street Pineville and Bell County Chamber of Commerce.

Ayers said that she is constantly being asked about bringing more art to the downtown community.

“I have gotten messages from people asking for murals and more art in our downtown,” Ayers explained. “We will be getting signage and banners to put in both Middlesboro as well as Pineville.”

The grant will be awarded by the Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky, on behalf of CEDIK (University of Kentucky – Community and Economic Development Initiative of Kentucky).

The grant will be used for several different aesthetic and wayfinding improvements that aim to help draw people and businesses into our downtowns from U.S. 25E. It includes new wayfinding signage for Middlesboro, as well as banners on U.S. 25E and murals in both downtowns.

According to Middlesboro Main Street, the mural in downtown Middlesboro will be massive and will cover the entire side of the Tamer Building on Cumberland Avenue. This is the location of the old Sterchi’s Building and is currently where the banner for ragtime innovator Ben Harney is hanging.

“One major factor in helping us obtain the grant was the fact that it was a coalition effort between Pineville and Middlesboro,” Bell County Tourism Director Jon Grace explained. “Both cities and main street organizations work together with tourism to produce a project that will benefit everyone and bring a major facelift to our downtowns.”

“This grant will be a major breath of fresh air to our downtown,” Ayers said. “The addition of new wayfinding signage and banners on (U.S. 25E) will help inform passersby of all the great things in our downtown, and the gigantic new mural will be one that captures the imagination of our beautiful area.”

Grace explained that it is amazing to have Middlesboro and Pineville working together to apply for grant funding instead of competing for it.

“These murals will help further our goal of creating downtowns alive with art and music,” Grace said. “Ones that will help increase our traffic downtown and help create welcoming environment for patrons of local businesses.”