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Arts & Culture Investment in Fitchburg, Lynn & Springfield

MassDevelopment Commits $1.6 Million to Build Sustainable Arts Infrastructure in Three Gateway Cities Over Two-Year Period
April 26, 2022

Kelsey Schiller, 617-694-9695 

BOSTON – MassDevelopment has selected partnerships from Fitchburg, Lynn, and Springfield to participate in a two-year program aimed at building a sustainable artistic and cultural infrastructure within a city as a mechanism for supporting economic growth, representing a $1,605,000 investment in the communities. MassDevelopment’s Transformative Development Initiative (TDI) Creative Cities supports existing arts and culture partnerships in graduated TDI districts and helps build a creative infrastructure in these cities that can continue after the program ends. The program encompasses five key strategies: (1) staff support, (2) implementation funding, (3) partnership development, (4) leadership training, and (5) place designation.

MassDevelopment’s TDI Creative Cities is made possible by the Barr Foundation, which has awarded $4.4 million since 2019 to MassDevelopment to create and administer arts-based programming for Gateway Cities. From 2020-2021, MassDevelopment piloted TDI Creative Cities in New Bedford, supporting the work of local organizations like New Bedford Creative and the Co-Creative Center.  

“The positive impact of MassDevelopment’s Transformative Development Initiative can be felt in Gateway Cities across the Commonwealth, and its focus on arts and culture as an economic driver helps these communities build on the attributes that make them unique and harness the power of place to create economic opportunities locally,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy, who serves as chair of MassDevelopment’s Board of Directors. “The Baker-Polito Administration is thrilled to see the Barr Foundation partnering with MassDevelopment once again to invest in the creative infrastructure and cultural institutions of these dynamic communities."

“MassDevelopment’s goal through TDI Creative Cities is to ensure Gateway Cities remain vibrant places to live, work, and visit by empowering and fostering connections between the cultural institutions, arts organizations, and creative entrepreneurs that call these communities home,” said MassDevelopment President and CEO Dan Rivera. “Following a successful two-year pilot in New Bedford, where TDI Creative Cities supported the city’s vision of becoming a destination for arts and culture, we’re excited to expand this intensive arts-focused initiative into Fitchburg, Lynn, and Springfield. We deeply appreciate the continued support of the Barr Foundation as we test and grow new approaches to economic growth across Massachusetts.”

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.

“Arts and the creative economy are powerful and essential contributors in building communities where everyone thrives,” said Barr Foundation Senior Program Officer for Arts & Creativity Giles Li. “We are excited to continue our partnership with MassDevelopment to accelerate economic growth and strengthen community bonds in Gateway Cities.”

In Fitchburg, the TDI Creative Cities program will be led by the Fitchburg Art Museum in partnership with the Central Massachusetts Women’s Caucus for Art, City of Fitchburg, Community Foundation of North Central Massachusetts, Curious Escape Rooms, Fitchburg Access Television, Fitchburg Cultural Alliance, Fitchburg Cultural Council, Fitchburg Public Schools, Fitchburg State University, including the Crocker Center for Civic Engagement and ReImagine North of Main Initiative, Making Opportunity Count, Inc., NewVue Communities, including the Community Stewards program, North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce, and Strong Style Coffee. The partnership will leverage capacity, resident participation, and recent improvements in local art and culture activity to create equitable opportunities for economic and community growth and development. The program will help stabilize projects and organizations, provide additional and enhanced professional development for emerging resident leaders, and create a signature event designed to represent the full diversity of cultures in Fitchburg.

In Lynn, the TDI Creative Cities program will be led by the City of Lynn’s Planning Department in partnership with Beyond Walls, Creative Collective, the Economic Development & Industrial Corporation Lynn, Essex County Community Foundation, Lynn Arts, Lynn Main Streets, Lynn Museum, Raw Art Works, and other community partners. The partnership will merge small business recovery with innovative arts, culture, and leadership development activities with a focus on amplifying Lynn’s traditionally underrepresented voices and promoting equitable economic development.

In Springfield, the TDI Creative Cities program will be led by Art for the Soul Gallery in partnership with Black and Brown Wall Street, Community Human Resources, GRNSX Studios, Love Art Collective, Valley Venture Mentors, and Visionary Acts. The partnership will focus on providing technical assistance and professional development for underserved populations within Springfield’s creative economy, helping area organizations and individuals build the structures necessary to advance cross-cultural collaboration and creative and cultural empowerment downtown and citywide. 

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.

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 FY2021, MassDevelopment financed or managed 416 projects generating investment of more than $1.86 billion in the Massachusetts economy. These projects are estimated to create or support 6,578 jobs and build or preserve 1,909 housing units.