El Corazón / Heart of Holyoke

El Corazón de Holyoke
Holyoke, Massachusetts
June 14 – 27, 2022

To honor the upcoming state designation of Holyoke’s Puerto Rican Cultural District, Beyond Walls and Nueva Esperanza Inc. are producing a series of murals this summer from the Caribbean’s most celebrated artists, culminating during the much-anticipated Noche de San Juan Festival.

The City of Holyoke is home to the largest concentration of Puerto Ricans per capita outside of the main island, making up 50% of the population. We’re collaborating with El Corazón / Heart of Holyoke, a cultural placekeeping initiative that celebrates the heritage and modern identities that define the city. As Holyoke receives this esteemed cultural designation, we’re amplifying these festive celebrations with epic murals that connect artists from Puerto Rico to Holyoke and beyond.  

Stay tuned for Artist Announcements coming in May.


Noche de San Juan Festival

On Saturday, June 25th, from 12pm-7pm at Bonin Field in South Holyoke, our partners of Nueva Esperanza, Inc. will be hosting their annual Noche de San Juan Festival. Puerto Ricans all over the world celebrate this lively holiday – an eve of a feast for Saint John, the Baptist’s birth. We’re excited to unveil the epic murals produced in Holyoke, and we hope you’ll join us! 

—Support our Mission—

Our vision to install powerful large-scale murals needs your support! Our goal is to raise $50,000, which will be matched dollar-for-dollar by the Commonwealth Places Fund. Every part of these funds will go towards the artist fees, paint/materials, aerial lifts, insurance and more to make this dream possible. Whether it is $25 or $25,000, your donation will be instrumental.

All funds donated here are tax deductible and will be restricted for the installations of murals in Holyoke, MA. Beyond Walls is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) public charity. Our tax ID number is 83-0573018.

Imagine a Vibrant Main Street in Holyoke / Imagina una Main Street vibrante en Holyoke

What's going on in 2022:

Read part of the 2022 Grant Application Below
Project Need – Describe why this project is necessary in enhancing economic development or unlocking other housing and/or jobs.

Public art can add a powerful value in driving the economic vitality of a community through community engagement, and increasement of tourism and support of local businesses. By continuing the establishment of Holyoke’s artistic and cultural identity through Puerto Rican and Latinx mural installations, our proposed project will support emerging businesses from artists, to storefronts, to developers as they all play a major role in the public art design, installation and community vitality. One of the main goals of El Corazón/Heart of Holyoke project from Nueva Esperanza, Inc. is to encourage economic opportunities and generate positive momentum through specific streetscape and neighborhood improvements. Through our years of experience in organizing public art at Beyond Walls, we know installing large-scale representative murals will spur new conversations about community, generate excitement and drive an influx of new visitors to local businesses.

Narrative / Scope of Work – Describe the proposed work that will be funded by the grant or provided through technical assistance to further this project.

The goal of the mural installations is to assist the City of Holyoke and the community in a revitalization effort that celebrates the cultural and social identities that define the city. This work will build upon past work done in partnership with El Corazón /Heart of Holyoke, a cultural placekeeping project celebrating the Puerto Rican Cultural District of Holyoke. In prior years, that work was focused on commissioning public art works, including banners, large-scale art works, dynamic lighting, murals, food trucks, and art festivals on Main Street, to reflect the vital culture of the area. Although the project has achieved notable achievements in their efforts to make Holyoke a vibrant art center, they have not yet installed public murals of large-scale. The installation of large scale murals in conjunction with the festival will further drive participation in the festival, supporting the local economy and adding to the initiative’s overall success.

Beyond Walls has found that murals can have a ripple effect on a community, continuing to positively affect economic development years after the installation. Large-scale murals will drive foot traffic to the area, making the downtown area more vibrant and improving the perception of Holyoke. As noted above, we plan to leverage Beyond Walls experience in public relations and social media, generating extensive positive media coverage regionally.

Community Leadership Group – Describe the group of individuals that will work on this project and what makes it innovative or effective in community economic development.

This project is a collaboration between Beyond Walls and Nueva Esperanza, Inc. Nueva Esperanza, Inc. was originally founded in 1982 by the residents of many landlord-neglected apartment buildings in South Holyoke, one of four neighborhoods in what was once the industrial heart of the city. The founders mobilized residents, collaboratively assisted by three other social organizations, and on their behalf secured the needed financing to rehabilitate the properties in order to provide safe and affordable housing. With great success, the organization incorporated as a community development corporation (CDC) and expanded its mission to include social and community services for all the neighborhood residents. Today, Nueva Esperanza, Inc. is regarded as a pioneer for community-based programs in Holyoke that celebrate and highlight the Puerto Rican/Afro Caribbean Culture. Our local coalition of community partners includes members of the Office of Economic Development, local building and business owners, Holyoke residents and regional artists, who have united to help share the street art installations this summer.

Matching Funds have been provided by the Commonwealth Places Program created by MassDevelopment.