The City of Long Beach has received a prestigious Helen Putnam Award for Excellence in the “Economic Development Through the Arts” category from the League of California Cities. The coveted award, which recognizes outstanding achievements by California cities to improve quality of life and services provided to local communities, honors the City’s partnership with the renowned Pow! Wow! Long Beach art festival.
“We are proud to be recognized for what is truly a community-wide effort to support urban art and beautify our neighborhoods at the same time,” said Mayor Robert Garcia. “We are thankful to the sponsors, volunteers, and everyone who brings the annual Pow! Wow! Long Beach festival to life so that world-renowned artists can bring the gift of larger-than-life street art to our residents and visitors.”
Pow! Wow! Long Beach launched in 2015 through the spearheading efforts of local entrepreneur, Julia Huang, CEO of InterTrend Communications, and Pow! Wow! founder and artist, Jasper Wong, who created the original event in Hawaii as a week-long gathering of local and international artists to create murals, music, and other forms of art.
The City supported bringing the festival to Long Beach with the aim of enhancing quality of life through investment in the arts. Supporting public art and enhancing business-attracting assets such as the Convention and Entertainment Center are some of the approaches to building a more inclusive economy, detailed in the City’s innovative Blueprint for Economic Development.
A collaborative partnership evolved that included the City of Long Beach, Long Beach Museum of Art, Long Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau, Downtown Long Beach Associates, Port of Long Beach, and a collection of local businesses, including interTrend and its sister company, Imprint Culture Lab. Now entering its fifth year, Pow! Wow! has reinvigorated public art in Long Beach, with more than 50 murals now adorning walls, bridges, and buildings.
“We’ve seen economic benefits from infusing art into the public space,” said Economic Development Director John Keisler. “It raises property values, creates venues out of previously underutilized spaces, and the event itself has an economic impact and has become a major draw for residents and visitors to come experience different parts of the city and shop at local businesses.”
The City supports Pow! Wow! through funding and several other channels, including identifying potential sites for murals, securing right-of-entry permits and facilitating access, providing special events planning and support, and commissioning murals by local artists to coincide with the festivities. The City also hosts bike tours of Pow! Wow! art and live paintings during the event utilizing bike-share equipment to promote alternative transportation.
In addition to live mural paintings, Pow! Wow! Long Beach includes events featuring live music, food, and drinks, held in a pop-up store that sells festival merchandise. Other highlights are: panel sessions with participating artists, journalists, and festival founder Wong; art exhibitions and live art demonstrations; and social gatherings held in city locales beautified by previous Pow! Wow! participants. Concurrently, the Pow! Wow! School of Music provides an intensive residency for youth and young adults, who perform at events throughout the week.
For more information on Pow! Wow!, the public can visit powwowlongbeach.com. Information on the League of California Cities is available at cacities.org. For more about the Helen Putnam Award for Excellence program, those interested can visit HelenPutnam.org.
About the City of Long Beach
Home to approximately 480,000 people, the multiple award-winning and innovative City of Long Beach offers all the world-class amenities of a large metropolitan city while maintaining a strong sense of individual and diverse neighborhoods nestled together along the California coast. As a full-service charter city, Long Beach is home to the Queen Mary, Aquarium of the Pacific, several museums and theaters, a highly-rated school district, Long Beach Airport, the Port of Long Beach, as well as many award-winning City departments such as Health, Parks, Recreation and Marine, Development Services and more. The City also has a highly-respected university and city college, two historic ranchos, five hospitals, five golf courses, 170 parks, miles of beaches, marinas, bike paths, and a Bike Share program.
About Economic Development
The mission of the City’s Economic Development Department is to create economic opportunities for workers, investors, and entrepreneurs. This includes making it easier to start and grow a business, streamline the process for property development, and provide businesses with a skilled workforce. The Department includes Property Development, Business Development, and the Pacific Gateway Workforce Investment Network. For more information on the Economic & Property Development Department, please visit http://www.longbeach.gov/economicdevelopment/ or follow us on Twitter @LBEconDev and Facebook.