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Lynn’s Beyond Walls named a finalist for Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence

LYNN — Beyond Walls, Lynn’s own mural festival, was named one of five finalists for the Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence.

For the enhancement of future projects, the 2019 gold medalist will receive $50,000 and four silver medalists will each receive $10,000, according to the Wednesday announcement. Al Wilson, CEO of Beyond Walls, said the prestigious award has been on his team’s radar since the festival’s inception in 2017.

“We are really pumped up and hoping we can win this thing,” said Wilson. “The other nominated parties do great work but they are much bigger entities. We are just a three-person shop based in downtown Lynn and I think this is a testament to all our hard work.”

If the city-bred festival gets the golden slot, the cash will go straight into their next project, Wilson said. Aside from another mural festival, Beyond Walls is looking to revamp the three-acre site they own on the waterfront.

The goal is to build a public park with amenities for all ages, with large-scale pieces of art displayed throughout. Wilson said he wants to input a jungle gym for kids, an exercise area for adults, a multi-use athletic field, and a production stage for an array of performances.

“We have really high hopes for being able to pull something off to give all parties in Lynn access to the waterfront,” said Wilson. “It takes things like this award to help fund it.”

The key to Beyond Wall’s success, according to Wilson, is the variety and scale of its projects, coupled with the community’s support and wide range of diversity and skills of project partners, funders, and artists. The mural festival is also nominated for a Hubweek Art Award in the “Impactful Public Art” category, with public voting closing on Feb. 22.

More than anything else, Wilson said it is Lynn’s residents and local politicians who made an award nomination like this happen. With their continued support, Wilson felt as though Beyond Walls could do anything.

“This is a really big deal for Lynn and a testament to how the city got behind us,” he said.

Projects also nominated for the award are Buffalo Bayou Park in Houston, Texas, Crosstown Concourse in Memphis, Tenn., Parasite Skatepark in New Orleans, La., and Sulphur Springs Downtown in Sulphur Springs, Texas. Winners will be selected sometime in June by a nationwide committee of urban experts, after they visit all the sites in April.

“The range of issues addressed in this year’s submissions reflect the evolution of our understanding of placemaking in cities,” Rudy Bruner Award Founder Simeon Bruner said in a press release. “The five finalists illustrate the shifting role of design in response to the imperatives of social inclusivity and environmental resilience.”

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