Women rule — the downtown New Bedford business scene

Posted Nov 9, 2019 at 4:00 PM

NEW BEDFORD — Women rule. Obviously.

And while you’re thinking of all the ways they do, here’s one more: They’re rocking the business scene in downtown New Bedford.

From cafés and clothing shops to fitness studios and salons, the compact center of the City that Lit the World has them all — many run by women.

“I always just wanted to be downtown,” said Lori Gomes, easing into an upholstered chair at Beauty Union, her salon next to Custom House Square.

A West End native, Gomes had a flair for hair as far back as high school, when she did hairstyling for friends in the bathrooms at New Bedford High. She got her first salon position in the city’s Times Square Building in 1989, and later went out on her own, opening L’Atelier Boutique Salone in a second-floor space above what is now dNB Burgers.

Still, she craved a location even closer to the city center, and a year ago, she moved to a first-floor spot on Acushnet Avenue, in the Co-Creative Center, under the name Beauty Union.

One of the things that surprised her about going into business was how much working capital she needed. A plumbing problem — a big deal at a salon — delayed her opening by two months, and she had already been paying rent on the space for three months before the delay.

Her stylists are young. Gomes likes the idea of giving them a chance to succeed in New Bedford, without moving away.

STRENGTH IN NUMBERS

With help from Elissa Paquette, who owns the women’s clothing shop Calico and is president of Downtown New Bedford Inc., The Standard-Times recently connected with more than 30 women making waves downtown. Most of them own businesses. A few lead cultural institutions, such as the New Bedford Art Museum.

Paquette first came to New Bedford one summer when she was a student at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, in Boston. She sublet an art studio from a friend. They ate Mexican food at No Problemo and checked out the Solstice skate shop.

She felt awed to see local business owners in their 20s.

“I had never seen that outside Williamsburg (Brooklyn),” she said.

Paquette had dabbled in selling vintage clothing on eBay, and she decided to make a go of it with a brick-and-mortar store in the Whaling City. She opened Calico as a vintage clothing shop in 2005, in a second-floor location over a nail salon.

After three years, she moved to a first-floor shop. But filling the larger store with curated vintage merchandise wasn’t easy. So she spent $1,000 to stock new clothing in a handful of styles. People bought them right away.

“That’s when I knew I was on to something,” she said.

One of the best things about being the boss, she said, is creating a culture and being in charge. But it means you’re in charge of everything.

“It’s the best thing, and the worst thing,” she said.

She jokes with employees that if the store needs a new vacuum, they’ll have to ask corporate — which, of course, is her.

Although she loves her job, she said leaving behind a 9-to-5 schedule may not be as freeing as some people envision.

“It’s a lot of work,” she said.

Paquette and Standard-Times photographer Peter Pereira, intrigued by the number of women who own businesses downtown, organized a photo shoot. More than 30 people showed up. Twenty-five subsequently answered a Standard-Times survey designed to give a broader view of women’s experiences doing business in the city center.

UPS AND DOWNS

Jenny Liscombe-Newman Arruda, co-owner of the art and craft gallery TL6 the Gallery, opened the shop with a friend, Arianna Swink. They studied metalsmithing together at UMass Dartmouth. At first, they made jewelry in a basement studio and sold it at other shops. But when the former White Knight Gallery became available, they decided to go for it.

“We were like, ‘This is our chance,’” she said.

It’s a labor of love. Both of them have other jobs, Swink as a tax accountant and Liscombe-Newman Arruda as a waitress at a downtown restaurant.

She said she feels some disappointment that city government hasn’t done more to help small downtown businesses. She also wasn’t satisfied with last year’s holiday parking program, which only allowed free parking for two hours. Anyone who got ticketed for parking longer had to present a same-day store receipt to get the ticket forgiven.

“That’s not welcoming,” she said.

She does approve of the newly extending parking times downtown, and she said the transition from the old Holiday Shops event at the Whaling Museum to the broader Holiday Stroll has been a success.

“I am a positive person,” she said. “But if we don’t speak up about problems, they won’t improve.”

WOMEN IN THE LEAD

Leaders working together to do better is one of New Bedford’s biggest strengths, and women are in the vanguard of that effort, according to Margo Saulnier, creative strategist for the city. From the founding of AHA! Night 21 years ago to the consortium of 27 people implementing New Bedford’s arts and culture plan, “it is the female leadership who are generating that collaboration,” she said.

What follows is a small sample of survey responses from 25 of the women who make downtown click. Responses have been edited for length and clarity.

WHY NEW BEDFORD?

Abrah Zion, Miss Z Photography: I was born and raised in New Bedford. Downtown is a thriving hub. I wanted to be located in a central area and among other amazing business owners.

Cheryl Moniz, Arthur Moniz Gallery: Arthur (her husband, who died last year) and I were both born in New Bedford. We both loved the waterfront and New Bedford’s historical buildings and the rich history of downtown.

Cecelia Brito, Celia’s Boutique: I knew when I walked up and down Purchase Street, Union Street, etc., that I had to put “location” at the top of my to-do list. Location, location, location.

CHALLENGES YOU’VE FACED?

Lara Harrington, Boutique Fitness: Other people’s livelihoods are now dependent on our dedication to the growth of our business. This can be a challenge but also a motivator (and a wonderful thing to celebrate).

Jessica Coelho Arruda, Tia Maria’s European Cafe: Finding work-life balance, and figuring out how to finagle it all, has been a challenge. The first couple of years were the hardest, but as the business has grown, it has become easier to manage. I make it a priority to plan ahead, work efficiently and schedule time off.

Alison Wells, Alison Wells Fine Art Studio & Gallery: The biggest challenge for me is that in my career, I used to wear one hat: the artist’s hat. When I became a business owner, I suddenly had two hats to juggle, and it has been a challenge to balance them and not let one area suffer.

Elona Koka, Cafe Arpeggio: The amount of time the business requires, especially as a new owner, takes away from spending time with my family. I don’t really get to spend too much time with my daughter.

ON BEING A WOMAN IN BUSINESS

Caite Howland, The Beehive: I’m a mom, and making my own schedule is a great blessing. I get the chance to take some extra time while my kids are still young.

Val Kollars, New Bedford Tattoo Company: The tattoo industry is very male-dominated and very difficult for female tattoo artists. It’s what pushed me to have my own business.

Alison Wells, Alison Wells Fine Art Studio & Gallery: We often have to work harder to prove ourselves in gaining recognition and resources in the male-dominated art establishment. Having my own art business has helped me to carve out a role and niche for myself as a female artist of color. I have learned that being a business owner is about relationships and offering something more than the product itself, and this, in fact, is a unique strength women have.

Original story here.

Governor signs Zeiterion bill to allow long-term lease

Posted Nov 7, 2019 at 9:35 AM

BOSTON — Legislation that would allow the city to enter into a long-term lease with Zeiterion Theater Inc. has passed its final hurdle. On Thursday, Gov. Charlie Baker signed the legislation which had already been passed by the state Legislature.

Zeiterion Theater Inc. is seeking a long-term lease with the city because it is embarking on an $18 million capital improvement campaign to renovate the theater, and tax credits and bonds being applied for require applicants to have a 99-year lease.

“I’m thrilled that the governor and our state legislators support the city’s request to enter into a long-term lease agreement with the Z,” said Rosemary Gill, executive director of Zeiterion Theater Inc. “It means that the Z will be able to make very necessary and exciting improvements to the building and that’s going to have tremendous and long range implications for what our organization can offer to the community and what sort of impact it can have.”

Gill said they have already started conversations with city officials about the lease and said they’ll probably establish a working group with the city.

According to Gill, the group will then have to go before the City Council to negotiate the terms of the lease.

In May, the council voted to send a home rule petition to the Statehouse to pave the way for the long-term lease.

Mayor Jon Mitchell also supported the home rule petition and said on Friday, “Given the importance of the Zeiterion to the cultural life of the city, and knowing the ambitious plans to upgrade the facility, I was pleased to honor the Z’s request and work with the City Council to initiate this home rule petition.”

Mitchell said the long-term lease “unlocks access to millions of dollars of federal investment that could make the project that much more feasible.”

Sen. Mark Montigny filed the legislation for the lease and said in a statement that “It’s taken well over a decade of work in the legislature to provide state funding to the Zeiterion so it could successfully provide New Bedford and our entire region with world class performances and opportunities for children and families. Consequently, the Z has become an economic engine for downtown and we’re very excited for this next phase in its development into a 21st century performing arts center.”

Original story here.

$1 million more directed to boost local arts and culture

The arts community in New Bedford and Fall River is on the cusp of receiving another influx of cash. A million-dollar investment to be precise.

The Community Foundation of Southeastern Massachusetts, which has administered the Creative Commonwealth Initiative grants for the last two years, announced that the Boston-based Barr Foundation is looking to augment that fund over the next three years to the tune of $1 million.

“To receive the funds, the Community Foundation will need to raise an additional $220,000 from local donors,” a press release from the Community Foundation stated.

“Over the past three years, the Community Foundation has taken a very public and leading role in the promotion of the role of arts and culture as essential to the lives of the residents of and visitors to the cities of Fall River and New Bedford.

“From a deep investment in public art that has, in the past year, changed the visual landscape of our cities, to the support of cultural celebrations as diverse as this past weekend’s Fabric Festival in Fall River and Festival Tipíco in New Bedford the previous weekend, to a partnership with area non-profits that is building professional expertise and providing technical assistance, the first phase of the Initiative has been an exciting and impactful effort.”

Over two years, Creative Commonwealth grants have focused on funding public art projects and cultural projects, respectively. Additional funding through the initiative has helped area nonprofits build a stronger foundation to form boards, seek private funding and execute projects.

This new funding will help underpin those efforts, officials said.

“This additional funding will build upon lessons learned over the past three years of the effort,” the press release states. “Specifically, the Community Foundation will be investing more robustly in building the capacity of arts and culture nonprofit organizations in New Bedford and Fall River in order to create long-lasting and sustainable change. The focus of the Creative Commonwealth Initiative will remain on supporting culturally diverse communities, immigrants, and youth in both cities”

The announcement of this extension is the continuation of a 10-year partnership with the Barr Foundation and five community foundations throughout the state including the Berkshire-Taconic Community Foundation, the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts, the Essex County Community Foundation, and the Greater Worcester Community Foundation.

While each community foundation has approached the past two years from different perspectives and through varied outlets, the ultimate goal is the same — to help deepen community engagement with and philanthropic investment in the arts. The initiative is dedicated to building bridges, developing leadership, and helping to create wholistic perception of arts and culture as an integral facet of the region.

“When we began this work in 2017, our shared hypothesis was straightforward: We believe arts and creativity are essential for thriving communities, that community foundations are well-positioned to catalyze more vibrant and sustainable arts ecosystems in the regions they serve, and that community foundation impact can be enhanced through strategies they design and pursue in their respective contexts,” San San Wong, director of arts and creativity and Jim Canales, president, stated in a recent Barr Foundation blog post.

According to John Vasconcellos, president of the Community Foundation of Southeastern Massachusetts, “This work and the investment from the Barr Foundation is a bold confirmation of the unique role that community foundations play, as match-makers between philanthropists — both locally and outside the region — and the great work that is happening in our communities. Community Foundations understand both sides of that equation and when thoughtful and innovative, can bring significant change, improvement, and investment into our communities. This Initiatives proves that.”

What started with community conversations in 2017 morphed into a two-year pilot phase with over $100,000 raised and over $360,000 directly granted to nonprofit organizations through grants and trainings. Public Art grants in September 2018 made a splash with nearly $200,000 being granted to arts and culture nonprofits in New Bedford and Fall River.

Installations, festivals, and murals brought arts to the streets of Fall River and New Bedford this summer and fall as a result of those grants.

January 2019 launched the beginning of a six-month capacity building series for arts and culture nonprofit organizations. Twelve nonprofits were trained on marketing and branding, finance, fundraising, and more. Shared learning opportunities will continue through the rest of the year.

Two large workshops were offered for free and open to anyone to attend, bringing national arts trainers Arts Midwest and Springboard for the Arts to the Southcoast.

Summer 2019 awarded $111,000 in cultural expression grants to almost a dozen organizations organizing and elevating the artistic expression of some of the cultural and ethnic groups that are often glanced over in the conversation about “mainstream arts.”

The Get Out and Art! Summer Program sought to address the obstacle of transportation and access to youth arts programming. Grants were awarded to the New Bedford Art Museum and Dream Out Loud Center for the Arts to lead their programs on site in community centers at two New Bedford Housing Authority locations.

“The vibrancy of arts and culture in the region is apparent and the impact that the Creative Commonwealth has had over the past year and a half has contributed to a shift of appreciation and investment in the arts,” the press release states. “Accessibility, networking, collaboration, outreach, and capacity have all been amplified amongst our grantees and the community-at-large. The Community Foundation has learned that while key additions can be put in place, community change happens organically. Ideas cannot be forced into neighborhoods and desired outcomes do not take place without input and shared learning.

“The next three years will take a deeper dive into further developing and strengthening the capacity of arts and culture nonprofit organizations; it will build upon the current work with the cities’ youth through Get Out and Art!; it will continue to work with donors to increase local philanthropy and ensure the sustainability of the Initiative; it will offer opportunities for community members to grow with and learn from each other; it will be representative of the cultural and ethnic diversity that makes Fall River and New Bedford unique. This is just the beginning of an exciting and meaningful journey. There is still much work to be done, but the future looks very promising.”

“The Community Foundation of Southeastern Massachusetts has been laying the groundwork for a stronger and more sustainable arts and creativity sector. Their investments in the effectiveness of grassroots arts organizations are already paying dividends in the community,” stated San San Wong.

“The Community Foundation is thrilled to continue this partnership with the Barr Foundation and other funders to grow and sustain investment in arts and culture in the region. Stay up to date on the Creative Commonwealth Initiative by ‘liking’ the Community Foundation on Facebook.”

Original story here.

MassDevelopment to pilot arts development program in New Bedford; announces TDI grants aimed at the arts

The Barr Foundation is well-known in the New Bedford arts community thanks to its work in funding the Community Foundation of Southeastern Massachusetts’ Creative Commonwealth initiative and partnership with the Karman Family Foundation to give nearly $1 million last year in unrestricted funds to The New Bedford Art Museum/ArtWorks!, New Bedford Symphony Orchestra and the Zeiterion Performing Arts Center via the Barr-Klarman Massachusetts Arts Initiative.

New Bedford takes center stage in this latest grant announcement.

On Tuesday, MassDevelopment announced it will create new arts-based programming through the agency’s Transformative Development Initiative thanks to a $500,000 grant from the Barr Foundation.

Transformative Development Initiative, better known as 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.

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 elsewhere, bolstering the revitalization of Gateway Cities and re-establishing these communities as regional centers for art and culture, a press release from Mass Development stated.

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.”

In the first arm of the initiative, 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.

“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.”

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.

“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, 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.

Original story here.

‘Our link is just the creative community’: 3rd EyE Open Hip Hop Festival takes over Downtown New Bedford

If you were walking through Downtown New Bedford on Saturday, you might have been confused by what you saw. 3rd EyE Open Hip Hop Festival not only had break dancers, but also everything from graffiti artists giving demonstrations to farmers selling sunflowers to families playing miniature golf.

“Just the sight of alpacas walking around the hip hop stage is so cool to see,” Allison Faunce said.

Faunce is one of the founders of Southcoast Open Air Market (SOAM) and she teamed up with the organizers of 3rd EyE Open to host the market in Custom House Square during the festival.

While the combination of a hip hop festival and a market with alpacas; farmers; and vendors selling pottery, soaps, and other artisan craft goods may seem odd to some, to Faunce it makes perfect sense.

“I think our chain or link is just the creative community,” Faunce explained, “Creativity comes out in so many different forms.”

Wicked Cool Grant Applications available for Creative Placemaking

City of New Bedford Official Website

Beginning this week, anyone with an idea to make a public place in New Bedford ‘wicked cool’ can apply to the city’s Wicked Cool Places (WCP) grant to help turn their vision into reality.

Application here.

WCP is the City of New Bedford’s grant program for creative placemaking. It is funded by the city of New Bedford’s Arts, Culture and Tourism Fund, with additional funding by Bristol County Savings Bank, Mass Cultural Council, and MassDevelopment.

WCP seeks to enhance community development, arts entrepreneurship, and ongoing investment in the rich arts and culture of the city. New Bedford artists, cultural organizations and talented citizens are encouraged to apply for a WCP grant through August 16.

Applications can be found at NewBedfordCreative.org, the just-launched website for all things #NBcreative. For more information, email Margo Saulnier, New Bedford’s Creative Strategist, at artsnewbedford@gmail.com.

“The goal of Wicked Cool Places is to unite property and business owners with artistic and cultural groups, using arts as a tool to help transform New Bedford’s overlooked or undervalued places,” said Saulnier.
Wicked Cool Places began as a pilot program in April 2018 when it distributed $5,000 in grants as a test run to 3rd EyE Unlimited, SUPERFLAT NB, the New Bedford Art Museum/Artworks!, and Seaport Art Walk. This leveraged over $12,000.

In December 2018, the pilot program scaled up to distribute $50,000 in placemaking grants to 12 different artists or groups, investing in projects throughout the City of New Bedford, which leveraged an additional $180,000. A few of those projects include Tracy Barbosa’s Guatemalan Kite Festival Workshops, Brook Baptiste’s Reggae on West Beach, New Bedford Fishing Heritage Center’s Big Boat, Little Boat celebration of fishing culture, Southcoast Lessons’ Open Season Series, and Community Economic Development Center’s Vacant Storefront Gallery.

The official first round of Wicked Cool Places will invest up to $80,000 in funds for city-wide placemaking projects beginning this Fall.
The deadline to submit an application is August 16, 2019. Grants will be announced in mid-October 2019. Once a project is approved, the applicant will receive a commitment letter from the New Bedford Economic Development Council. Grants will be distributed as a reimbursement in full once final approval from that office is granted.

Any project or program within the City of New Bedford is eligible. Individuals and organizations are both eligible. However, Wicked Cool Places cannot accept applications for work that has already been completed, and work for grant-funded tasks cannot begin until successful applicants are provided with written approval.

All applications will be evaluated by the selection committee of the New Bedford Creative Consortium and scored on the impact of the project based on these criteria: quality, originality and creativity, community benefit and partnership, planning and budget.
So, for those who have a wicked cool idea ready to unleash on the world in New Bedford, visit Wicked Cool Places at NewBedfordCreative.org and begin the journey.

About: Wicked Cool Places (WCP) is the city of New Bedford’s grant program for creative placemaking, uniting willing property/business owners, artistic/cultural groups, design/preservation specialists, and business/development experts to help transform New Bedford’s overlooked or undervalued places. Wicked Cool Places enhance community development, arts entrepreneurship, and ongoing investment in the rich arts and culture of the city, and is funded by the city of New Bedford’s Arts, Culture and Tourism Fund, with additional funding by Bristol County Savings Bank, Mass Cultural Council, and MassDevelopment.

New Bedford Arts, Culture and Tourism Fund was proposed by Mayor Jon Mitchell in the spring of 2016 and approved by the City Council in June 2016, and consists of revenue generated from the city’s lodging tax, capped at a total of $100,000. Creation of the fund also required the passage of a home rule petition by the state legislature and the petition’s passage, led by state Senator Mark Montigny and signed into law by Governor Baker in January 2017. The purpose of the fund is to create a dedicated revenue stream to provide for additional planning, programmatic, and administrative capacity to allow the City of New Bedford to take full advantage of its cultural and tourism assets, and to catalyze and manage the growth of the cultural and tourism sectors in the years ahead. The New Bedford Economic Development

Council (NBEDC) has a three-year agreement to manage the fund for the City. This work is lead by the NBEDC’s Creative Strategist. Additional funding is provided by Bristol County Savings Bank, Mass Cultural Council, and MassDevelopment.

New Bedford Creative Consortium New Bedford Creative Consortium is the leadership group whose purpose is overseeing the execution of the citywide strategic Arts and Culture Plan entitled New Bedford Creative: our art, our culture, our future. The Arts and Culture Plan is a huge step forward in building a thriving creative ecosystem in our city, and these are the people dedicated to implementing it. This volunteer group is facilitated by the Creative Strategist, meets quarterly, holds 1-3 year terms, and is divided into three task forces: Public Art and Facilities; Placemaking and Community; and Fundraising and Distribution.

Original post here.

Council approves $1.5 million for 17 Community Preservation Act projects

Posted May 12, 2019 at 5:10 PM
Updated at 9:39 AM

City Council voted to fund 17 Community Preservation Act projects last week, totaling $1.5 million.

The funding included $75,000 for the Sgt. Sean Gannon Memorial Playground at Campbell Elementary and $350,000 for the Capitol Theater restoration, which would help transform the 1920 theater into affordable artist-based housing with a community welfare center.

Two of the projects that were being funded were called into question by Councilor-at-Large Naomi Carney at Thursday’s meeting: $250,000 for the rehabilitation of the Butler Flats Light and $40,000 for a house at 29 Seventh St.

“Personally, I do have a problem when community preservation money goes to private individuals,” said Carney. “Not that their projects aren’t worthy.”

Carney asked the council to vote to cut the projects from the funding order.

Grants available for projects celebrating diverse communities in New Bedford, Fall River

Proposals should be reflective of the needs and interests of the populations the applicants wish to serve, according to a news release. A minimum of $100,000 will be available for projects that emphasize and celebrate the cultural expression of ethnically diverse communities in Fall River and New Bedford. Projects are to be completed or significantly underway by December and applicants must be a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit, municipality, or educational institution. Grant requests can be a maximum of $20,000.

“This is an especially exciting grant round for the Community Foundation, as through it, we seek to elevate and celebrate the richness of having so many cultures in Fall River and New Bedford. Inherent in our local and our American experience is the robust diversity that makes our communities vibrant and great places to live; and we are excited to support that through these grants,” said John Vasconcellos, President of the Community Foundation of Southeastern Massachusetts, in a statement.

Concerts, exhibits, festivals, performances, speakers/presentations, and visual arts are just some of the examples of projects they will accept for this Cultural Expression grant. The Creative Commonwealth welcomes artistic risk-taking and diversity of creative experiences and audiences.

Interested applicants can access the Letter of Interest at https://goo.gl/1UTHHP. Completed Letters of Interest are due by midnight April 5, and potential applicants should direct questions to Rayana Grace, Arts & Culture Program Manager, at 508-996-8253, ext. 203, or rgrace@cfsema.org. For a detailed timeline of this grants process and for more information regarding eligibility, visit https://www.cfsema.org/about-us/creative-commonwealth#G5.

New Bedford plan to ‘make the city a more vibrant place to live’

NEW BEDFORD — Laughter and head nods followed each descriptive noun used to describe those assembled within the walls of the Ashley Room at City Hall on Tuesday.

The group nearly spilled out into the hallways as dozens listened to Mayor Jon Mitchell announce the city’s new Arts and Culture Plan as well as 12 “Wicked Cool Places” grants awarded to community art programs.

“I mean this in the most affectionate way, this is a motley crew,” Mitchell said. “This is great. I can just feel the creative dynamism just in your presence.”

Tony Sapienza, president of the Economic Development Council, reminisced about 13 years ago when the idea to unite the arts and culture community emerged at an EDC meeting. The term used to describe the feat of collaboration was “herding cats.”

“So I can only say that to now be a motley crew, it is a big step up from herding cats,” Sapienza said.

The 200-page plan consisted of contributions by more than 10,000 individuals, according to Margo Saulnier, the city’s cultural coordinator.

The plan includes upward of 80 goals, which Saulnier is tasked with accomplishing. Not every goal coincides with the achievement of another, which drew the monikers at the press conference by Mitchell and Sapienza.

“We’re all in the same room, and there’s no way everybody’s going to agree with everything and that’s just as well,” Mitchell said. “Because that’s where the idea exchanges come from and the creativity comes from.”

Highlights of the plan include a sense of shared purpose for everyone to create cultural districts, more fundraising and more public art. Steps in accomplishing those goals included the $50,000 in grants announced on Tuesday.

The recipients included the 3rd Eye Youth Empowerment, SuperflatNB, Reggae on West Beach Series and Kite Festivals Workshops.

“In New Bedford, the creative community is an engaged and powerful partner inspiring social , economic and cultural growth,” Saulnier said. “In this authentic seaport city, each and every person enjoys an opportunity to experience a diversity of cultures. Art is everywhere. Encouraging fun, provoking thought and nurturing the soul.”

The Arts, Culture and Tourism fun, proposed by Mitchell in 2016, approved by the City Council last year and led at the state level by state Sen. Mark Montigny, provided the finances for the completion of the plan by Webb Management Services.

“This is really top notch stuff. This was not fly by night organization,” Mitchell said. “This is something that took a lot of work and a lot of planning.”

The timeline for the goals, which include creation of creative districts, collaboration with UMass Dartmouth and Bristol County Community College, range from a year to a decade.

Certainly new goals and ideas will be added with the city acting as a the beneficiary.

“This will make the city a more vibrant place to live,” Mitchell said.

Original story here.

Community Foundation awards nearly $700K in grants

By The Standard-Times
Posted Dec 17, 2018 at 2:09 PM
Updated Dec 17, 2018 at 5:58 PM

NEW BEDFORD — The Community Foundation of Southeastern Massachusetts announced Monday that 15 of its funds granted a total of $691,000 to dozens of local nonprofit organizations and public schools in a flurry of year-end awards.

Among the awardees were the Carlos Pacheco Elementary School and Irwin M. Jacobs Elementary School, which each received a grant of $48,000 to support enrichment and instructional resources from the Community Foundation’s Jacobs Family Donor Advised Fund, according to a news release.

Global Learning Charter Public School also received $80,000 to support curriculum development and technology needs. Awards also included $25,000 for the Buttonwood Park Zoo’s Nature Connection Education Center and the New Bedford Symphony Orchestra’s Learning In Concert program, which also received $25,000.

“The Community Foundation is proud to be the partner of choice for creating philanthropic impact in the SouthCoast region,” said Community Foundation President John Vasconcellos in a statement.

“From the support of deserving scholars in their pursuit of higher education to building the foundational elements of academic success for children at local elementary schools and youth-serving agencies, our work with engaged donors such as the Jacobs Family is bringing change to our community,” Vasconcellos said, “and these timely, year end grants also recognize the important work being done by several trusted and innovative nonprofit organizations in those areas that matter to the donor but also resonate for our community: arts and culture, the environment, economic opportunity, and health and human services.”

Joining the Jacobs Family Donor Advised Fund in making year-end grant awards from the Community Foundation was the Acushnet Foundation Fund, which granted over $85,000 to 10 SouthCoast nonprofits including $30,000 to public health initiatives, as well as the Henry H. Crapo Foundation Fund, which made over $90,000 in awards, including a $50,000 grant to the Buzzards Bay Coalition in support of their effort to help protect 150 acres of coastal farm land.

Other notable grants included an award of $10,000 to PACE Inc. from the Bank Five Foundation Fund to support the construction of a playground, and a total of $12,500 granted by the Lipsky-Whittaker Fund to Coastline Elderly Services Inc. and the Southcoast LGBTQ Network Inc. for programs that advance equality for, support and awareness of the LGBTQ community.

The MacLean Children’s Fund granted $12,000 to Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational Technical High School in support of its mentoring program, with yet other Community Foundation funds making grants to the Sippican Historical Society for a statue of Elizabeth Taber and to the Town of Marion to support property tax relief for residents in need, according to the release.

Original story here.