LEAP Kicks Off New Community Driven Placemaking Initiative With Painted Pianos in Charlotte

Community Partnerships Work to Extend “Keys In The Cities” Public Art Pianos To Charlotte

LANSING, Mich. – The Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP), Windwalker Underground Gallery, and the city of Charlotte gathered together this afternoon to announce LEAP’s new community driven placemaking pilot program, ENGAGE, and the first completed ENGAGE project, two new “Keys In The Cities” pianos.

Placemaking is a widely accepted economic development strategy focused on cultivating desirable active spaces that attract and retain talent and business. ENGAGE is LEAP’s new pilot placemaking program, and is designed to assist communities in advancing placemaking projects identified by residents and leaders. ENGAGE projects rest on community engagement and partnerships, and work to create places that instill community pride. Bringing Keys In The Cities to Charlotte, is a project that exemplifies the intent of the ENGAGE program.

“These painted pianos are a small victory for downtown Charlotte, but show promise for a vibrant future ahead,” said Josh Holliday, Tri-County Development & Placemaking Manager for the Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP). “Placemaking is a strategy we use to create engaging public spaces that a community can take pride in and contributes to a greater sense of place. Through LEAP’s placemaking pilot program, ENGAGE, we are proud to have worked with residents and leaders in the city of Charlotte to bring this project to fruition and showcase what is special and unique within the community.”

Keys In The Cities was initiated by Lansing Area artist and muscian Larry Grudt in 2015, and was met with warm reception in Lansing and East Lansing where the first series of pianos are located. Charlotte’s Keys In The Cities pianos were made possible with help from numerous community partners. Pianos were generously donated by Gale Briggs Inc., a long-time Charlotte grown concrete business, and Charlotte community members Kathy Geiger and Family. LEAP member and Lansing born internationally franchised moving company Two Men and A Truck stepped up to move the pianos to Charlotte’s Windwalker Underground Gallery, where they were subsequently painted under the direction of Deeanna Denio with volunteers from the Crosswalk Teen Center and Windwalker Underground Gallery. Others, including Hayes Green Beach Memorial HospitalCharlotte Area Networking for Development and Opportunity (CanDO!)CharlotteRising, the Courthouse Square Association, and the Capital Area Blues Society stepped up to fund and help plan and implement the projet.

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to create this space where the community can experience, play, and explore art and music with each other,” said Kalli Dempsey of the Windwalker Underground Gallery. “A lot of people came together to get this project off the ground and completed. From organizing and leading to donating funds, time, and expertise, this was truly a collaborative effort.”

A second ENGAGE program project, to be installed along Lansing’s River Trail, will be announced later in August. For more information about LEAP placemaking initiatives, visit the LEAP website at purelansing.com/publicart


About LEAP

The Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP) is a coalition of area leaders partnering to build a stronger community for all—working every day to grow, retain and attract business.