Crowdfunding is part of the strategy Naperville's Century Walk Corp. is using to find the money it needs to install its latest piece of public art, a sculpture of a sailor called "Spirit of the American Navy."
The sculpture will serve as a counterpart to "Spirit of the American Doughboy," a soldier already standing in Burlington Square Park. The group wants to have the statue in the park by Oct. 13, the anniversary of the creation of the U.S. Navy.
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Both sculptures are by the same artist, E.M. Viquesney. Thanks to $25,000 from Century Walk and $25,000 from the city, the sailor is standing in the Naperville municipal center awaiting its permanent destination.
But organizers need a total of $77,000 to install the sculpture in the park. They need to raise about $27,000 more for sidewalks, landscaping and a pedestal base, said Nina Vittori, a Century Walk administrator who works with the nonprofit organization's chairman Brand Bobosky.
The last $27,000 is being sought on citizinvestor.com, a crowdfunding site specifically for government-supported projects.
"We work directly with government entities that have projects they know they want to take on, but don't have the funds to bring those projects to life," said Citizinvestor co-founder Jordan Raynor, who called his new site "Kickstarter for governments."
While the "Spirit of the American Navy" page on Citizinvestor shows a goal of $77,000, that total includes the $50,000 already contributed by the city and Century Walk.
People can visit the site and donate by credit card, but they won't be charged unless the fundraiser reaches its goal within 60 days. That means 54 days remain for the sailor to collect $27,000 -- otherwise Century Walk will need a new fundraising strategy.
Vittori said Century Walk heard about the new crowdfunding site from the city and thought it would be a good mechanism to fund its 44th piece of public art since 1996.
Raynor said he reached out to Naperville as part of the company's expansion plan in the Chicago area. Citizinvestor also has a tree-planting project going on in Evanston and may post some projects in Chicago soon, he said.
The 1920s-era "Spirit of the American Navy" is one of only eight such sculptures across the nation. Century Walk bought it from private owners in Michigan and veterans say they are excited to bring a sailor to the park, located by the Naperville Metra station.
"Standing in the center of the park, you can look either way and see either the Navy or the Army represented," Navy veteran Terry Jelinek said last month. "And we think that will be a fitting tribute."