Art on the TracksJust as New Orleanians are learning to watch out for the St. Charles streetcars again when crossing their tracks, visitors and locals alike will soon be looking out for a whole new form of streetcar-based art.

The Young Leadership Council, a local volunteer group for young professionals, is now gearing up to launch its “A Streetcar Named Inspire” project, a public art initiative and fundraiser.
    
The group has produced 200 fiberglass statues, each a 6-foot-long replica of the St. Charles streetcar, and is commissioning local artists to decorate them with their own work. The finished products will comprise a unique collection of local art to be on display in public spaces across New Orleans, mostly in the downtown area and along the St. Charles streetcar route.
“We really wanted to have another positive story come out of the city now,” says Jude Boudreaux, a volunteer project leader with the group and partner in the New Orleans-based firm Bellingrath Wealth Management.
“It think it will help reinforce the idea of New Orleans as a thriving artistic community because it helps showcase the creativity of our artists on the streets,” he says.

The project is part of a trend of public art displays that began with a bovine-themed Parade of Cows exhibit around the streets of Zurich, Switzerland. Chicago had its own Parade of Bulls and in New Orleans the YLC organized its Festival of Fins with fish-shaped statues installed around town in 2000. Last year, the local Fore!Kids Foundation hosted its own version with 40 fleur-de-lis statues.

The project hinges on companies and individuals willing to step up and sponsor the streetcars, which will bear their names along with the artists’ work. After about a year, the YLC will either sell the streetcars to sponsors or auction them off to the public. Sponsorships cost $5,000 each, or $7,000 with the option to buy a sponsored streetcar sculpture outright. Proceeds will be used to fund to a yet-to-to-determined public project, which Boudreaux says may be some kind of permanent enhancement for the city. The Festival of Fins raised more than $550,000, which was distributed as grants to 30 local charities.
    
“We really think it’s important to show the energy and commitment to this city that young professionals have here and the YLC is a great vehicle to do that with projects like this,” says Boudreaux.
 
For more information about “A Streetcar Named Inspire,” visitwww.youngleadershipcouncil.org.