$500K Helps City Neighborhoods Through Art

MassDevelopment Awards Transformative Development Initiative (TDI) Creative Catalyst Grants for Arts & Culture Projects in Barnstable, Chelsea, Fall River, Holyoke, Lawrence & Revere

September 22, 2022

Matthew Mogavero, 857-248-0868

Sydney Ly

Photo of a mural in Worcester’s Main South neighborhood, funded by a Creative Catalyst grant awarded to the Regional Environmental Council. Photo courtesy of Kevin La.

BOSTON – MassDevelopment has awarded $500,000 in grants to seven organizations for public-facing projects that support arts- and culture-based economic development and neighborhood revitalization such as new shared spaces, public art programs, collaborative workshops, and more. The funding was awarded through the Transformative Development Initiative (TDI) Creative Catalyst Grant program, a competitive opportunity for eligible Gateway Cities.

MassDevelopment’s TDI Creative Catalyst Grant program is made possible by the Barr Foundation, which since 2019 has awarded $4.4 million to MassDevelopment to create and administer arts-based programming for Gateway Cities. Through its first two rounds, the TDI Creative Catalyst Grant program awarded $960,000 in grants to 17 organizations to support public art, community theaters, public markets and gardens, artist spaces, and other projects.

"MassDevelopment's Transformative Development Initiative (TDI) Creative Catalyst Grant program accelerates arts and culture projects in Gateway Cities for the benefit of all who live, work, and visit there," said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy, who serves as chair of MassDevelopment's Board of Directors. "The Baker-Polito Administration is proud to see MassDevelopment and the Barr Foundation continue to collaborate to advance our creative economy."

“These grant recipients help connect residents and visitors to the rich cultures in our Gateway Cities,” said MassDevelopment President and CEO Dan Rivera. “MassDevelopment is excited to award these TDI Creative Catalyst Grants to projects that will energize neighborhoods and foster dynamic local economies.”

“Barr is proud to partner with MassDevelopment in supporting the Creative Catalyst Grant program,” said Barr Foundation Director of Arts & Creativity San San Wong. “These grants will support exciting projects that leverage the creativity of residents and other community members and highlight the role that arts and culture often play in growing civic engagement and economic opportunity.”
MassDevelopment’s Transformative Development Initiative works with cross-sector partnerships in targeted commercial districts in Gateway Cities in order to engage community members, implement local economic development initiatives, and spur further public and private investment. Since 2015, MassDevelopment has invested $20 million in TDI districts through tools such as technical assistance, real estate investments, grant programs, and fellows who work in the districts. That investment has directly influenced over $100.2 million in public and private investments in the districts, and assisted an additional $219.9 million.

Defined by the Massachusetts General Laws, Gateway Cities are small to midsized cities in Massachusetts (population of between 35,000 and 250,000) that anchor regional economies around the state, with below state average household incomes and educational attainment rates. The Legislature defines 26 Gateway Cities in Massachusetts, including Attleboro, Barnstable, Brockton, Chelsea, Chicopee, Everett, Fall River, Fitchburg, Haverhill, Holyoke, Lawrence, Leominster, Lowell, Lynn, Malden, Methuen, New Bedford, Peabody, Pittsfield, Quincy, Revere, Salem, Springfield, Taunton, Westfield, and Worcester.

Awarded Projects:

La Colaborativa, Inc., Chelsea – $40,000
Creative Collaborative Community Kitchen 

La Colaborativa, Inc. will use grant funds for personnel, program expenses and supplies, and marketing materials for a community-based commercial kitchen located at its new headquarters and food pantry at 63 Sixth St. in Chelsea. The communal kitchen space will prepare and serve healthy meals to the community, host meal prep demonstrations, offer nutrition courses, and empower community chefs to build job readiness skills. The kitchen will also give food artisans a place to share ideas and stories of the food they prepare as well as build an inclusive cultural network of food entrepreneurs. MassDevelopment has previously supported La Colaborativa, Inc., formerly Chelsea Collaborative, with over $4 million in financing for its new headquarters and food pantry in Chelsea. 

TheatreZone, Inc. (DBA Apollinaire Theatre Company), Chelsea – $80,000
Teatro Chelsea

Apollinaire Theatre Company will use grant funds to hire additional staff for Teatro Chelsea, the community theatre project it launched in 2020, who can provide the infrastructure needed to foster sustainability and future growth, continue to create a regional hub for Latinx artists, and hold a free bilingual three-week performance event in summer 2023 in downtown Chelsea that will reflect and celebrate Chelsea’s diverse community and position the city’s downtown as a summer destination for entertainment and dining. MassDevelopment has previously supported TheatreZone, Inc. with $105,000 in TDI Creative Catalyst Grant awards: in 2021, the agency awarded a $75,000 TDI Creative Catalyst Grant to TheatreZone, Inc., which used a portion of proceeds to develop an interactive performance of “Romeo and Juliet” throughout downtown Chelsea; in 2020, the agency awarded a $30,000 TDI Creative Catalyst Grant to TheatreZone, Inc. to create a theatre-making workshop series and an artist residency program. 

The Neighborhood Developers, Inc., Revere – $100,000
Shirley Avenue Neighborhood: Activation of Open Spaces and Creative Arts 

The Neighborhood Developers, Inc. will collaborate with the City of Revere’s Revere on the Move (ROTM) program and Women Encouraging Empowerment (WEE) to utilize themes of healthy eating and active living for a place-based project with four interconnected elements, all which improve, utilize, and/or activate public spaces within the Revere TDI District. The project aims to ensure that the Shirley Avenue neighborhood welcomes families and residents of all ages and cultural backgrounds with a vibrant business district, mercados, open spaces, accessible housing, and economic opportunities. MassDevelopment has previously supported The Neighborhood Developers, Inc. (TND). In 2021, the organization used a $9.1 million tax-exempt bond to buy, clear, and prepare a site for a 33-unit affordable rental housing facility for seniors in Everett. In January 2018, TND used a $6,885,580 tax-exempt bond to build and equip a 34-unit affordable rental housing facility in Chelsea. In February 2016, the organization used a $5,825,000 tax-exempt bond  to preserve, renovate, and build 52 affordable housing units in Chelsea and Revere. Between 2008 and 2014, MassDevelopment awarded more than $2 million from the Brownfields Redevelopment Fund for site assessment and remediation for the Box District homes, which are transit-oriented housing developments in Chelsea. 

The Cordial Eye Gallery and Artist Space, Inc., Barnstable – $90,000
The Arts and Justice Collective

The Arts and Justice Collective is a proposed cluster of leaders from The Cordial Eye Gallery and Artist Space, Inc., Amplify POC Cape Cod, Cape Cod Voices, and Belonging Books, which are four nonprofit and mission-driven organizations in Barnstable County that specialize in art, culture, and equity with the ultimate goal of creating an art and social justice hub in downtown Hyannis. Grant funds will be used for three projects to help establish space for the hub that can serve as a location where organizations involved can host programs, collaborate, support one another, share resources, and create more holistic and intersectional experiences for community members. These projects include a series of community ‘House Parties,’ diverse and culturally informed gatherings that will feature local musical and visual artists; a summertime Arts and Justice Festival; and a plan for the acquisition of a permanent, year-round space. Together these three projects will foster community, increase access and visibility for local artists, and aid in economic development. MassDevelopment has previously supported The Cordial Eye Gallery and Artist Space. In 2021, the organization used a $15,000 grant from the Collaborative Workspaces Program to fund a feasibility study for the proposed new coworking space.

One Southcoast Chamber Inc., Fall River – $40,000
Fall River Arts & Culture Coalition (FRACC) Ignition Fund: Artist Recovery Grants

The FRACC Ignition Fund: Artist Recovery Grants is a pilot project bringing a creative multifaceted approach to Fall River’s economic recovery from the pandemic. The project will include four workshops focused on grant writing, project planning, and finance that will be open to every FRACC member and will help address the current needs of underserved artists recovering from the ongoing pandemic. As part of the workshops, One Southcoast Chamber Inc. will provide access to educational tools and resources, technical assistance, one-on-one consultation, and new pathways to capital and project funds. 

Essex Art Center Inc., Lawrence – $75,000
The Lawrence Art Collective: Deepening Engagement in Our Community 

The Lawrence Arts Collective: Deepening Engagement in Our Community is a pilot artist-in-residence program aimed at strengthening community relationships, putting Lawrence on the contemporary art map, and driving economic growth. With the support of the Lawrence Mayor’s Office and the Lawrence Partnership, the following organizations will host an artist-in-residence: Essex Art Center, Izizwe's Dance Studio, and Ateneo Dominicano de Nueva Inglaterra. The Lawrence Art Collective will use grant funds for artist stipends, marketing and publicity, documentation, and other project-related expenses. The six-month residency will allow the artists the time and financial resources necessary to engage with the community and create work that will keep the arts visible and accessible in the community and stimulate the creative economy in Lawrence. For this year’s program, the group seeks artists working in social practice, i.e., artists whose work is participatory and community based.

New England Farm Workers' Council Inc., Holyoke – $75,000 
Holyoke hARTwork 

Leveraging a partnership with the Latino Economic Development Corporation (LEDC), the Holyoke hARTwork is a proposed project that will provide entrepreneurial training to empower people to see art as a business. New England Farm Workers' Council Inc. plans to utilize an existing space at 225 High St. – in the heart of the Holyoke TDI district – to hold art classes and gallery events. The organization will encourage residents to take part in art classes, lessons, and trainings that seek to strengthen the community and showcase diverse art. Grant funds will be used for buildout, rent expenses, stipends for artists, grants for participating youth, and a part-time project coordinator. 

MassDevelopment, the state’s development finance agency and land bank, works with businesses, nonprofits, banks, and communities to stimulate economic growth across the Commonwealth. During FY2022, MassDevelopment financed or managed 356 projects generating investment of more than $1.69 billion in the Massachusetts economy. These projects are estimated to create or support 11,080 jobs and build or preserve 1,778 housing units.