Sidewalks with Soul was a unique opportunity to help bring art and music together to enhance the experience for downtown Akron visitors.
- Revitalize seven unused pay phone kiosks along Main Street in downtown Akron by wrapping them with colorful graphics and fun, inspirational lyrics
- Partner with 91.3 The Summit to have the booths on timers to stream an array of music from 7:00AM-9:00PM
- Design eye-catching graphics for pre-exiting, uniquely-shaped kiosks
- Incorporate lyrics and images that represent Akron
- Coordinate with other vendors on the committee to bring art and music together to enhance the experience for downtown Akron visitors
Allyson Boyd and Kat Pestian received a $4,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation through the Torchbearers’ S.P.A.R.C. (“Small Projects Achieving Real Change”) project to retrofit unused (and aesthetically unpleasing) phone booths with speakers to stream music to the sidewalks of downtown Akron.
We were asked to be part of a team made up of several local organizations, including the City of Akron, Clear Gold Audio, Downtown Akron Partnership, The Knight Foundation, Power Media, Torchbearers and 91.3 The Summit, to bring the project to life.
“When [it] first began, we hoped to provide speakers alone, but because of the Downtown Akron Partnership, we secured additional funding to have each of the phone booths wrapped – turning them into art pieces and gathering places,” said Pestian.
The project was dubbed “Sidewalks with Soul.”
With a name chosen, our team started working on a logo and overarching brand for the new project. Once the initial branding had been approved, it was time to design the actual kiosk graphics themselves.
It was decided that the project as a whole would have one cohesive look, but each kiosk would have a unique design, including distinct colors, lyrics and imagery.
First was the task of selecting the seven sets of lyrics and photos that would be featured on the kiosk graphics. The goal was to make the lyrics uplifting and motivational, and, if possible, include some artists from the Akron area. These lyrics, coupled with bright colors and large imagery were meant to inspire people and brighten their day as they walked around downtown.
The pre-existing kiosks were a challenging size and shape to work with. Our team took several trips to the kiosks with the vendors to make notes and take precise measurements to ensure the graphics would work on the pre-existing structures.
Working closely with the rest of the committee, our creative team finalized the pieces and ensured that they not only captivated the crowds, but also grabbed attention.
The final step was to have a crew of volunteers, including PEG team members, help paint the kiosks and get them cleaned and prepared for application. The graphics were applied, the speakers were hooked up and Sidewalks with Soul was ready to launch.
The kiosks were a fun, uplifting and distinct addition to the downtown Akron landscape. They create a sense of wonder and community that not only encourages visitors to stop and listen, but also to take pictures and share the experience with others via social media.
“This project confirmed what we all already knew—Akron. Is. Special.,” Boyd said. “Coming together with an idea and working to create vibrancy in a city we adore is magic.”
Pestian added, “It’s because of our incredible committee, including Pritt Entertainment Group, and our connections within Torchbearers that we were able to amplify Akron’s existing rhythm. Allyson and I cannot express how grateful we are for this experience and team.”