Section1 is opening a Series A funding round. Instead of venture capitalists, however, the nonprofit is looking for regular folks who want a stake in the creation of a massive art park under the Jones Falls Expressway.
At a launch party on Thursday night, the nonprofit kicked off an online silent auction for art bonds. About 20 artists were commissioned to create their version of a $100 bill. In bidding on an art bond, supporters of the project can also get a stake in the park’s future.
“Rather than debt, they’re guaranteed by art,” Section1 founder Richard Best told Technical.ly Baltimore earlier this month.
The artists commissioned include TT the Artist, Michael Owen, MICA professor Gary Kachadourian. Even Best has a couple takes on the Benjamin.
“In purchasing a piece of art, you get to help build this amazing park,” Best told the crowd at the launch party, which was held blocks from the future site of the park at the Fitzgerald building.
The startup-derived name of the crowdfunding campaign and art-world deconstruction of that same concept is a near-perfect encapsulation of Section1 as a whole.
As we wrote last fall, the project bridges entrepreneurship, art and urban planning. It’s aimed at giving Baltimore’s existing underground street art the kind of platform that will make the kind of people who drive on the highway above take note. Alongside a vision of a transformational public space that’s known around the world, the project plans call for a skate park that would serve as a permanent local spot for Baltimore youth.
The Series A campaign will help Best and the collection of volunteers behind the park get the 3.5-acre site under the Jones Falls Expressway ready for public view.
Best is finalizing the lease negotiations with the Maryland Transportation Authority, and aiming to debut the park with a festival during ArtScape in July. In startup parlance, Best sees the festival as the project’s “minimum viable product.”
It’s designed, he said, to “show what the space is capable of doing.”