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New creative bus stops in Portland hope to promote diversity and inclusion

On Thursday, 'Creative Portland' officials will hold 5 celebrations at the new creative art bus shelters that aim to increase bus ridership and celebrate diversity.

PORTLAND, Maine — Earlier this year, Portland won a national contest for the best bus stop in the United States! The colorful stop that won is located on Congress Street in Portland and the design was spearheaded by a local artist called Ebenezer Akakpo. His goal was to promote hope and friendship through his design.

"Creative Portland"  got grant money for five new creative art bus shelter designs that are now installed at some of the bus stops that the Greater Portland Metro makes.

On Thursday, September 8, "Creative Portland" officials will hold five different celebrations at each of the new bus stops. 

Dinah Minot is the executive director of the organization.

She says one of the goals is to promote bus ridership and promote the city's diversity and inclusion through the different art displays at the shelters.

"In selecting the artwork... we looked at impactful designs we looked at those designs that would hold up in terms of materials and durability in all weather conditions, and we look for projects that answer to the prompt of celebrating our cities diversity weather was culturally economically environmentally socially and so forth," Minot explained. 

The program was made possible thanks to a National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) "Our Town" $25,000 grant award.

The city of Portland now has a total of nine creative bus stop locations.

Minot says the projects boost communities by highlighting the work of local Maine artists. Through the lens of the artists, many can learn about different cultures and backgrounds that exist in Portland.

"The purpose of this project is to evoke joy. It's an art space community projects using art to evoke conversations and dialogue with community they are beautiful they're all different it really adds to the Portland Art landscape. We don't have a lot of public art here because it is expensive to make public art and this is an affordable way to do it," Minot said.

The effort was possible thanks to a partnership between Creative Portland, the Greater Portland Metro, the Office of Economic Opportunity, and the Greater Portland Immigrant Welcome Center.

Posted by Creative Portland on Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Minot says she hopes a more lively bus stop could encourage multi-modal transportation among more city residents, increase ridership, and promote awareness and social acceptance through the art installations.

The selected artists for these five new stops include Zenab Bastawala and Karen Merritt, Titi de Baccarat, Jocelyn Lee, Ben Potter, and Carter Shappy.

“Soon, we will become a destination for visitors to discover these incredible art installations by local artists. Hopefully, the arts-based community initiative will increase ridership for METRO and attract future municipal investment,” added Minot.

Credit: Creative Portland

“The creative bus shelters installed along our bus routes last year have become a great source of pride for METRO and the City of Portland,” said Greg Jordan, METRO’s Executive Director. “We’re looking forward to working with Creative Portland and other local partners to install several more shelters that showcase Maine artists.”


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