MassDevelopment to Create Arts-Based Programming for Gateway Cities with $500,000 Barr Foundation Award
September 24, 2019
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Kelsey Schiller, MassDevelopment, 617-330-2011 & 617-694-9695 (cell)
MassDevelopment today announced new arts-based programming it will create through the agency’s Transformative Development Initiative (TDI), made possible by a $500,000 grant from the Barr Foundation. TDI is a program for Gateway Cities designed to accelerate economic growth within focused districts. MassDevelopment will use grant funds to provide two new tools for TDI districts: (1) a competitive grant program for art and other creative industry projects aimed at catalyzing economic development and neighborhood revitalization, and (2) additional capacity in New Bedford to support a planning phase focused on creative industry development and arts and culture infrastructure.
“The Transformative Development Initiative represents a high-touch, partnership-based approach to neighborhood development in Gateway Cities, and we are seeing firsthand the major role that arts, cultural assets, and the creative economy play in positioning these former industrial centers to be economically competitive,” said MassDevelopment President and CEO Lauren Liss. “We are thrilled to receive support from the Barr Foundation to provide new arts-based programming and assistance in these cities.”
“Investing in arts and creativity generates so many benefits for communities,” said San San Wong, Barr Foundation Director of Arts & Creativity. “Not only is it a proven economic driver and way for businesses to attract and retain talent, it lifts up the voices and rich cultural expressions of our diverse neighborhoods. The arts and creativity help people build understanding and stronger connections—the ‘social infrastructure’ that is such a crucial feature of lasting economic and community revitalization. It is exciting to see MassDevelopment so fully embrace the potential for arts and creativity to enrich their efforts in the Gateway Cities, and it is our privilege to support this new work.”
MassDevelopment will develop a two-year competitive grant program through which individuals and organizations in TDI districts can apply for grants ranging from $20,000 to $40,000 to support public-facing projects that serve to enhance local arts and culture infrastructure. Current TDI districts – in the cities of Chelsea, Chicopee, Fall River, Fitchburg, Lawrence, Springfield, and Worcester (Main South) – as well as graduated TDI districts – in the cities of Brockton, Haverhill, Holyoke, Lynn, New Bedford, Peabody, Pittsfield, Revere, and Worcester (Theatre District) – are eligible to apply. This grant program will complement existing MassDevelopment grant programs that support Massachusetts’ creative economy, including TDI Local, Commonwealth Places, and the Collaborative Workspace Program. The Collaborative Workspace Program has also received support from the Barr Foundation; in 2016 the organization provided a three-year $1,965,000 grant to the program to expand support for arts-related collaborative workspaces in the Commonwealth.
In New Bedford, grant funds will support a year-long planning phase with key community partners to create a strategy to best enhance the local arts and culture infrastructure as a mechanism for supporting economic growth. The goal of this planning phase is to form the foundation for a more comprehensive set of resources that could later be deployed in late-stage or former TDI districts, bolstering the revitalization of Gateway Cities and re-establishing these communities as regional centers for art and culture.
Grant funds will support the salary of two staff members that will be centrally involved in this effort, including Margo Saulnier, Arts and Culture Strategist for the City of New Bedford, and Dena Haden, Program Manager for the Co-Creative Center. Additionally, grant funds will also be used to hire an external consultant to help the partners facilitate the process and undertake an initial community-led pilot project.
“There is significant momentum building in New Bedford centered around arts, culture, and our city’s emerging creative economy,” said New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell. “We are eager and grateful to work with MassDevelopment, the Barr Foundation, and other partners over the next year to explore opportunities to sustain and further amplify this momentum.”
MassDevelopment’s Transformative Development Initiative works with cross-sector partnerships to engage community members, implement local economic development initiatives, and spur further public and private investment. During the program’s first three and a half years, MassDevelopment has invested $13.5 million in the 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 $39.8 million and assisted an additional $80.6 million of public and private investments in the districts.
MassDevelopment, the state’s finance and development agency, works with businesses, nonprofits, banks, and communities to stimulate economic growth. During FY2019, MassDevelopment financed or managed 316 projects generating investment of more than $2 billion in the Massachusetts economy. These projects are estimated to create or support 9,743 jobs and build or preserve 1,992 housing units.