Collaborative Public Art Projects to Reinvigorate Gloucester in 2021 Thanks to Funding from Essex County Community Foundation

Projects include Agri-Culture, led by Gloucester-based food access and urban agriculture nonprofit Backyard Growers

Gloucester, Mass., February 18, 2021 – After a long winter in isolation, the Gloucester community will come to life through new public art projects that seek to promote hope, connection, and diversity. Agri-Culture, headed by nonprofit organization Backyard Growers in collaboration with Gloucester Housing Authority and Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce, is just one of six new collaborative public art and creative placemaking projects being funded by Essex County Community Foundation’s Creative County Initiative (CCI). Launched in 2018 through a partnership with the Barr Foundation, CCI is designed to elevate arts, culture and the creative economy in Essex County. 

Agri-Culture is a project that will use storytelling, multimedia arts, and a participatory design process to create dynamic spaces in and around the community garden managed by Backyard Growers at Willowood Park, a Gloucester Housing Authority development on Maplewood Avenue in Gloucester.

“We are thrilled to forge this expanded partnership with Gloucester Housing Authority and the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce aimed at connecting and celebrating the voices of diverse communities in Gloucester through public art,” said Lara Lepionka, Executive Director of Backyard Growers. “We are also pleased to be in such good company with LuminArtz, which is leading the other Gloucester-based project funded through CCI in this selective round.”

 “The idea of creating a space where anyone and everyone can access art and culture is paramount to our vision for Essex County,” said CCI Program Director Karen Ristuben. “We were really inspired by these new collaborations, which have not only designed innovative, creative plans to bring people together through art and culture but have also managed to persevere through COVID-19,” added Ristuben. 

“During these difficult times, it is vital that our residents have a sense of hope and transformation, and that our community increase its sense of inclusivity,” said Gloucester Housing Authority Executive Director David Houlden. “Our public art project, Agri-Culture, based in and around the Willowood Community Garden, will bring new energy to the Willowood community using the arts to celebrate diverse cultures and improve healthy food access.”

A second Gloucester project was also funded by CCI called Centuries in the Making, led by LuminArtz. It is a project which brings the iconic fishermen’s and fishermen’s wives’ memorial statues in Gloucester to life through art technology and sound effects. These two new Gloucester-based projects will join an already impressive list of CCI-funded public art projects that have successfully mobilized collaborations of nonprofits, artists, municipalities and local businesses to transform their communities through art. For more information about ECCF’s work in arts and culture, please visit


About Backyard Growers

Backyard Growers is a grassroots organization that connects people and communities through access to healthy food. Founded in 2010, its community programs and award-winning school programs have connected thousands of people to the resources to grow their own food. Learn more about Backyard Growers and its work in schools, public parks, and housing developments at

About ECCF

The mission of Essex County Community Foundation is to inspire philanthropy that strengthens the communities of Essex County. We do this by managing charitable assets, strengthening and supporting nonprofits and engaging in strategic community leadership. Since 1998, ECCF and its family of 250 charitable funds have granted $85 million to nonprofits, schools and students in Essex County and beyond. Our ultimate goal is to have 34 thriving cities and towns in Essex County and to improve the quality of life for the region’s nearly 800,000 residents. Learn more at