Whaling Museum’s big exhibition landing in South End arts space

In true “Greatest Showman” style, the imminent exhibition of the New Bedford Whaling Museum’s Grand Panorama of a Whaling Museum ’Round the World is being billed as “A Spectacle in Motion.”

It is certainly going to be that — and a whole lot more.

The Standard-Times was given exclusive media access to plans for the exhibition of the restored 19th century 1,275-foot work of art, Grand Panorama of a Whaling Museum ’Round the World last week at the museum.

From that meeting, we can now report that the legacy cultural event of the summer will take place in the city at none other than Kilburn Mills Studios on West Rodney French Boulevard in New Bedford’s South End.

It is there where the Whaling Museum found the space and proper historical ambiance to reveal the restored Grand Panorama to the world in a special off-site exhibit that will open on July 14 and remain on view through October 8, 2018.

“Kilburn Mills was built in 1903,” says Tina Malott, museum director of marketing and public relations, “The same year the Whaling Museum was founded.”

It’s not the only bit of serendipity behind this inspired choice.

The selection of Kilburn Mills as an exhibition site for the panorama comes as the building itself is undergoing a renewal — along with the entire “peninsula” section of the city.

As such, the Whaling Museum’s decision to show the panorama there reinforces the idea that arts and culture is not only a means in itself, but a means to an end. It has the power to reinvigorate a city and revitalize neighborhoods by its very exercise in often overlooked spaces.

Just as this unique panorama was once forgotten but given new life, “A Spectacle in Motion” brings national attention to all of the City of New Bedford’s cultural and emotional infrastructure.

The Grand Panorama of a Whaling Voyage ’Round the World

Without hyperbole, it’s accurate to write that The Grand Panorama of a Whaling Voyage ’Round the World is a national treasure.

It is a 1,275-foot-long painting on canvas that depicts a whaling voyage — originating in New Bedford, of course. Which is no surprise, since it was painted in 1848 by New Bedford artists Benjamin Russell and Caleb Purrington, when the city was secure in its position as the world’s top whaling port.

Museum materials state that it is a unique work of art because it is one of only a few surviving American moving panoramas — a popular art and entertainment form that reached its peak in the mid-19th century.

Panoramas were very much the movies of the time period.

In its entirety, and accompanied by narration, music and other special effects, this Grand Panorama ran a feature-length two hours.

All panoramas were “played” across a stage in a theatrical setting from spool to spool — much like early films ran from reel to reel.

According to Whaling Museum Chief Curator Christina Connett, panoramas can be placed squarely in the context of a rising middle class enjoying leisure time in the nascent industrial age. It is very much a part of the burgeoning popular entertainment forms of the day, like Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show; P. T. Barnum’s Greatest Show on Earth; and other amusements like World Fairs.

Indeed, over a century after its initial “theatrical” run, the Grand Panorama was exhibited at the 1964 World’s Fair in Corona, Queens. It’s next stop after that? A former furniture store on Pope’s Island, New Bedford in 1969!

But a showing way back in 1849 at the Boston Armory intrigues Christina Connett the most.

The historical record shows that Herman Melville was at his sister’s home a few blocks away from the armory at the time the Grand Panorama of a Whaling Voyage ’Round the World was on display — the adventure of which his own popular early novels, like “Typee” and “Oomo,” brought to life.

“It’s nice to imagine that he saw the ‘Panorama’ when he was there,” she says.

Restoring the Grand Panorama

It’s nice to imagine that anyone can see the Grand Panorama at all — let alone back in the city where it was created over 150 years ago.

Thanks to some more serendipity and a lot of hard work, imagination becomes reality — and digital reimagination — this summer at Kilburn and the Whaling Museum.

The museum chanced upon ownership of the work of art when it was donated to them in 1918 by Benjamin Cummings — who found it in a local attic. Some 300 feet were missing, so the voyage ’round the world ends at Fiji — but at 1,275 feet it’s still likely the longest painting in the United States. (A nice piece of promo material at the museum teases visitors with the fact that the painting is actually longer than the Empire State Building is tall.)

The Whaling Museum has exhibited sections of it at various times over the years, and as noted, it made its way to New York City and Pope’s Island in the 1960s, just about a century after its original tour of East Coast and Midwest cities like Cincinnati, Buffalo, St. Louis, Baltimore, New York and Boston from 1849 through 1870.

The restored Grand Panorama visitors will see at Kilburn is the first time it has been publicly shown since the 1970s, when only sections of it were on display at the Whaling Museum before being put in storage.

Christina Connett says that the goal of the restoration project wasn’t perfection, but stabilization so that it lasts another 100 years.

“We want people to see it for what it was back in the 19th century,” she explains, “So there are some small abrasions and the like which allows the authenticity to show.”

 As part of the conservation effort, the panorama was photographed in blocks — and those images will be put to good use in a new, permanent exhibit outside the Lagoda half-scale whaling ship replica in the museum’s Bourne Building.

The 15-minute running time digital display will mimic the original movement of the Grand Panorama — while the original will be displayed in its entirety at Kilburn mounted on static, brushed aluminum panels of 400 feet each.

Both the actual and digital exhibits will also feature new, original artwork commissioned by the museum, special performances at various times and other related ephemera of the period over the course of the summer exhibit. After that, elements of it will hit the road for another tour, just as it did in the 19th century.

The Grand Panorama at Kilburn

Which brings us up to the present day — and the exciting decision to display the restored Grand Panorama at Kilburn.

Kilburn Mills Studios — officially called Kilburn Mill at Clarks Cove — itself occupies a special place in the city’s emotional infrastructure.

Originally a textile mill, most city residents probably recall it as the former home of Madewell, the apparel company. Today, Kilburn Mills Studios is home to an eclectic range of businesses as it undergoes its own renovation.

A gym, a dancing studio, a silk screening company, a vast antiques store and other going concerns call it home. Significant improvements have recently been made to the building, including new windows, a new roof, refurbished staircases and more.

Importantly for this story and in the context of the creative destination New Bedford has become, a number of noted artists maintain studios in the building. Artists like Mark “Maki” Carvalho, Kelly Zelen, Will Wolf and others.

It also houses the gem-like Judith Klein Art Gallery & Studio, which in addition to beautiful works of art also boasts a stunning view of the new Cove Walk atop the Hurricane Barrier — and Clarks Cove itself in the rear of the building.

Further, the owner of Colo Colo Gallery, Luis Villanueva, has an outdoor sculpture garden on the drawing board for the property.

And all of this sits in the South End of New Bedford at the entrance to what is referred to as the “peninsula” area, which encompasses the city’s municipal beaches, Fort Rodman, Fort Taber, a companion Hurricane Barrier walk to the east, Harbor Walk, and too much more to mention.

The decision by the Whaling Museum to exhibit the Grand Panorama here and in this context is an amazing opportunity to thrust the entire peninsula and its many attractions into the spotlight when literally the eyes of the region and nation will be on the Grand Panorama.

This is arts and culture at work across the city — for the good of the entire city.

You could call it A Spectacle in Motion.

Steven Froias blogs for the coworking facility, Groundwork! at NewBedfordCoworking.com. Email: StevenFroias@gmail.com.

In GroundWork! exhibit Barbosa captures life through a fantastical filter

Posted May 17, 2018 at 3:01 AM

“Every dream has a name. And names tell a story. This song is your dream.”

— Talking Heads

“Duende” is the perfect name for the current exhibition of artwork by Tracy Barbosa.

The term refers to a moment of unrepeatable excitement that originated in dance and music, but has come to also define a rush of the soul that manifests itself even in static art.

The Spanish poet Francisco Garcia Lorca once described duende as “a sort of corkscrew that can get into the sensibility of the audience.” It is the dance between the muse and the goblin and Barbosa is the chaperone.

Curated by Jessica Bregoli at Groundwork, “Duende” is an intriguing showcase for Barbosa, who has created complex works that are densely layered, both literally (in her deft application of material) and conceptually (seemingly bouncing from one alternate reality to another.)

She glides seamlessly between glasswork, photography printmaking, painting, gold leafing and sculpture. It is often difficult to ascertain where one ends and the next begins, and that speaks to her mastery of her chosen media.

Thematically, she straddles a place between the mystical and the earthbound, the visceral and the cerebral, the private and the public, the familiar and the queer, and the natural and the manmade.

In the large scale acrylic painting (with brass and copper leaf, patina and toner) “Spring Snow,” Barbosa presents a marvelous fantasy landscape that draws from reality but becomes something entirely new and refreshing.

In the background, Northern California’s Bay Bridge spans a bay somehow connecting Texas to the New York City borough of Queens. Nearer to the viewer is a plump antlered deer in the wood, Canadian geese and starlings flit about, and the sky is both ominous and lovely.

But the most remarkable element is the dozen or so oversized doily-like snowflakes that become both a decorative element and a sign that winter has succumbed. It is clearly “unreal” but it resonates as though it were a bolder and better plane of existence.

“Derrick” is an homage to her cousin of the same name who died of an overdose of opiates in December 2017. There is something reverential in it, almost holy.

Bulbous, cartoon-like gold leaf clouds recall the Momoyama (Peach Hill) Period of the late 16th century in Japan, expressing an opulence that dangerously borders on decadence.

Barbosa zealfully embraces symbolism. A large bird carries a photographic device as if trying to record and understand the unfathomable. In the distance, gulls flock but they are in black silhouette and look like crows. Their number constitutes a murder, perhaps an unconscious reference to the opiate dealers. And in the distance, on a dead-still sea, is a derrick.

“16 Octaves Below Middle C” (which according to Barbosa is “the hum of the Earth”) is a ceramic print on glass, illuminated from behind, which gives it the feel of a church’s stained glass windows. But the iconography is not big-C Catholic. It is little-c catholic … it is universal. Heaven is a multi-hued sky, angels are the ever-present birds, the altar is a barren tree, and the shrine is an off-in-the-distance Chrysler Building.

Another work of note is “Ink and Wine” which features entangled octopuses as a metaphor for family, silver grails with all religious understanding locked in place, and a spattering of red. It is ink, it is wine, it is the blood of Christ and family bond.

Barboza’s work exists in a dreamstate that is both lucid and temporal. She knows the muse and the goblin. She lives with both.

“Duende: An Exhibition by Tracy Barbosa” is on display at Groundwork, 1213 Purchase Street, New Bedford through June 9. An opening reception will be held on Friday from 6 to 9 p.m.

Don Wilkinson is a painter and art critic who lives in New Bedford. Contact him at Don.Wilkinson@gmail.com. His columns run each week in Coastin’.

Original article here.

A whale of a heart: Life-size model of a blue whale heart arrives at New Bedford Whaling Museum

A life-size model of a blue whale heart arrived at the New Bedford Whaling Museum on Thursday, all the way from New Zealand.

Visitors are welcome to crawl inside the heart, which has four chambers and is the size of a Volkswagen Beetle.

“It’s pretty spectacular,” Chief Curator Christina Connett said.

The heart is the first major element in a complete redesign of the Jacobs Family Gallery and other spaces for an exhibit titled Whales Today, which focuses on ecology and conservation. Other elements to come include a model of a whale’s head with baleen, plus life-size silhouettes of whale flukes.

The museum staff had waited for days to hear that the heart had cleared customs. Finally it was ready, and it arrived at 8:05 a.m. in a shipping container trucked from Elizabeth, New Jersey.

Everyone kept their good humor as they unscrewed the two-by-fours holding the heart in place, fetched ramps, and gingerly unloaded the pieces using a pallet jack and dolly.

“How’s your heart today?” one employee quipped to an onlooker.

The first piece was too large to fit through the museum doors. A door had to be removed to create a larger opening.

The living heart of a blue whale — the largest animal ever known to have lived — weighs nearly 1,000 pounds. The fiberglass model weighs 660 pounds and was made by Human Dynamo Workshop, a fabrication company in New Zealand whose website says, “We Make Unusual Things.”

Once both halves were inside, movers arrived to get them into the gallery. By 1:15 p.m., Connett was placing lights in the heart and arranging the signage.

Museum volunteers did a double take as they arrived.

The living heart of a blue whale — the largest animal ever known to have lived — weighs nearly 1,000 pounds. The fiberglass model weighs 660 pounds and was made by Human Dynamo Workshop, a fabrication company in New Zealand whose website says, “We Make Unusual Things.”

Once both halves were inside, movers arrived to get them into the gallery. By 1:15 p.m., Connett was placing lights in the heart and arranging the signage.

Museum volunteers did a double take as they arrived.

“Oh, my!” volunteer Judith Giusti exclaimed. The retired New Bedford teacher said the heart will be a wonderful teaching tool.

“Oh, that’s going to be incredible,” she said. “It was well worth the wait.”

It’s one thing to tell people about whales and another thing to show them, said Robert Rocha, director of education and science programs.

“Every tool we can have to explain to people how magnificent and how amazing these whales are is a good thing,” he said.

Connett has wanted to bring a model heart to the museum since before she worked there. When she was interviewing for the job at the museum a few years ago, she saw a heart like this at a traveling exhibit in New York. She looked into borrowing the heart, but it was so popular, its owners wanted it back, she said.

The Whaling Museum’s blue whale heart is a permanent exhibit — the only one in the United States.

One the goals of Whales Today is to bring attention to the status of living whales, an especially timely topic given scientists’ recent warnings that the North Atlantic right whale could be on the edge of extinction, Connett said.

“They’re really in dire straits,” she said.

Blue whales, too, are endangered. According to the website of the Northeast Fisheries Science Center, the population stands at less than 10 percent of its historical level.

Follow Jennette Barnes on Twitter @jbarnesnews.

Bay State Wind signs agreements to build training center in New Bedford


Bay State Wind has signed agreements to develop a training center for future offshore wind workers in the city, the company announced Monday.

Bay State Wind is a partnership between Ørsted and Eversource for an offshore wind project 25 miles off Massachusetts and 15 miles off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard. Bay State Wind is one of three projects, along with Deepwater Wind and Vineyard Wind, competing in a state-led bidding process in which Massachusetts power companies will buy electricity from offshore wind. A 2016 state law requires power companies to buy long-term contracts for at least 1,600 megawatts of offshore wind power in the next decade.

Bay State Wind has signed agreements with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the Utility Workers Union of America and its Power for America initiative, and the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers, along with Bristol Community College and the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, according to a news release.

“We are very happy to be working with Bay State Wind, which is the only offshore wind developer that is committing to become a true Massachusetts company, by training and hiring local union labor,” said Mike Monahan, international vice president, second district, of the IBEW, in a statement.

The company said it expects to hire up to 1,000 workers during the construction phase and create 100 permanent jobs over the 25-year life of the turbines, with an operations and maintenance facility that also will be located in New Bedford.

If chosen by the state for the contract, Bay State Wind also has pledged $1 million to BCC, which will “endow a faculty position to help BCC, which would offer the only degree completion program in offshore wind … Bay State Wind will collaborate with BCC faculty and staff to train other teachers, to create an ambitious internship program and to build a new, national model for preparing the workforce for this growing industry and its supply chain,” BCC President Laura Douglas said in March.

“New Bedford has sent its people to sea for nearly 300 years, and in the process, became a global leader, first in whaling and then in commercial fishing,” said Mayor Jon Mitchell in a statement. “We see the establishment of an offshore wind training center here as an important step in staking our claim in the emerging offshore wind industry. We appreciate Bay State Wind’s commitment to preparing the industry’s workforce, and we look forward to working with our partners in higher education and organized labor to make the proposed center a reality.”

Bay State Wind already has signed an agreement with NEC Energy Solutions, headquartered in Westboro, to build a factory to manufacture storage batteries, according to the release. Last month, Bay State Wind reached an agreement with EEW, the international market leader in steel pipe manufacturing, to open and staff a plant to manufacture offshore wind components, in collaboration with Gulf Island Fabrication. EEW is considering a variety of sites, including locations on SouthCoast.

Original story here.

William Street Neighborhood Festival is growing

Posted May 17, 2018 at 3:01 AM

Spring is here and organizers are planning for this year’s 3rd annual William Street Neighborhood Festival.

Set for Sept. 15, the footprint of the festival will expand this year to include Eighth Street from William to Union. Organizers are also expanding festival hours with fun on tap from noon to 6 p.m.

The Festival is a celebration and collaboration between the three historic church buildings in the neighborhood — the First Unitarian Church, the First Baptist Church and The First Universalist Church (Gallery X).

“Although their past as houses of worship has dwindled, they are now active as centers for art, culture, community gathering,” a press release about the festival states. “Our goal is to show how vital these buildings can be and how much they all offer the Community.”

The second goal of the festival is to introduce area residents and visitors to local artists, performers and artisans. To achieve that goal, free booth space is available.

Original story here.

Aquaculture next objective of New Bedford officials

Mayor Jon Mitchell was taking his daily run atop the hurricane barrier late last year when he had a realization: There are a lot of things one cannot do amid the huge granite blocks on the barrier’s sides.

Development is out. Swimming, out. Boating, out. It defied the imagination. Then he thought of aquaculture. The barrier now was a sheltered spot where aquaculture might be practiced while annoying as few people as possible in places such as Clark’s Cove.

One thing led to another, until Tuesday when a lengthy survey report was made public, spelling out the advantages and disadvantages of shellfish farming on the SouthCoast shore of Buzzards Bay.

On the merits, the report, funded by Coastal Enterprises, Inc. of Portland, Maine and the Garfield Foundation, found that if the region plays its hand right, aquaculture could become a significant contributor to the local economy, dovetailing nicely with the fishing industry that, as of now, doesn’t fish in Buzzards Bay.

The CEI exists “to grow good jobs, environmentally sustainable enterprises and shared prosperity in Maine, and across the U.S. People of all income levels can fulfill their promise and reach their full potential,” said the report.

$300K coming to Whaling Museum, Zeiterion, The Strand

Three institutions in the city are getting a $300,000 boost from the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund, announced state Rep. Antonio F. D. Cabral on Friday.

The MassDevelopment’s Board of Directors approved the grants Thursday for three projects planned for the New Bedford Whaling Museum, Zeiterion Performing Arts Center and the Cape Verdean Association of New Bedford.

“We’re delighted to support these exciting New Bedford projects as part of our ongoing investment in the city’s burgeoning cultural economy,” said Anita Walker, Mass Cultural Council executive director, in a statement. “Thanks to Rep. Cabral, who as House Bonding Committee chair has been a steadfast supporter of the CFF alongside Sen. (Mark) Montigny and their colleagues in the New Bedford legislative delegation.”

WHALING MUSEUM

The New Bedford Whaling Museum is set to receive a $170,000 capital grant to construct an urban greenspace on the museum’s campus, which will facilitate an outdoor gallery and public programming, according to a news release.

The greenspace is the soon-to-be-expanded Capt. Paul Cuffe Park. The museum hosted a groundbreaking ceremony in late March, and construction is under way.

The new Capt. Paul Cuffe Park will elevate the current park facing Union Street to the level of the doorstep of the Johnnycake Hill building behind it, the Wattles Jacobs Education Center. The work will connect what are now the high and low sides of the parcel, enlarging the available space and making it easier to access.

Cuffe, whose story began in the late 18th century, had roles as sea captain, philanthropist, community leader, civil rights activist and abolitionist.

ZEITERION

The Zeiterion Performing Arts Center will receive a $100,000 capital grant to restore its marquee.

In 2015, the theater began renovations, including fixing leaks, repairing the white terracotta decorations and bricks on the building’s exterior. In later phases, doors and windows will be replaced, and the marquee above the entrance will hang once more.

THE STRAND

The Cape Verdean Association of New Bedford was awarded a $30,000 feasibility and technical assistance grant, to plan for the restoration of the Strand Theater in the gateway to the “International Marketplace” in New Bedford to house the Cape Verdean Cultural Center.

In WHALE’s first foray into the city’s North End, it has partnered with the Cape Verdean Association to restore and renovate the group’s home in an old vaudeville theater. The building, built in 1896, has had a lot of patchwork repairs and is used for small-scale music and cultural performances.

The building, with a scorched ceiling from a fire in the early 1990s, was bought by the group in 1992 as a place to promote and maintain Cape Verdean culture.

WHALE and the association plan to replace the Italianate facade of the theater, the blueprints for which have been stored all this time in New Bedford City Hall.

“New Bedford’s creative economy is attracting visitors and talent from across the country— these capital investments will further bolster our reputation as a hub of cultural activity,” said Cabral in a statement. “The New Bedford Whaling Museum is the anchor of our City’s downtown, while the Zeiterion has transformed itself into an entertainment destination. Thanks to the feasibility grant, the Strand Theater’s planned restoration will allow our Cape Verdean community to truly flourish.”

Original story here.

Sound off now on downtown New Bedford parking

SouthCoast Today: Our View
Posted Mar 1, 2018 at 8:20 PM

Find the survey at newbedford-ma.gov/ParkingSurvey.

Everyone has a gripe about parking.

There’s not enough of it. The meters run out too quickly and the fines are too high. Parking officers are mean. The garages are too far from my workplace. And on and on and on.

If you’ve been aching to sound off about parking issues in downtown New Bedford, now is the time to do it.

State and city planners want to hear your concerns, your user experiences and yes, your complaints. Think of it like this: If you don’t take advantage of the opportunity now, you might lose the high ground when you feel like complaining later.

The first way to make your thoughts known is by completing a survey. It’s sitting online right now, waiting to be filled out by visitors, workers, residents, business owners, students and anyone else with a reason to park, drive or do business in downtown New Bedford. Responses will be collected for three to four weeks.

The survey shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes to complete, and it’s filled with questions that get to the heart of the downtown parking issues:

• How long does it take you to find a parking space?

• Where do you park most frequently?

• Have you ever left downtown because you were unable to find parking?

• And this one — which might be everybody’s favorite: What else would you like to tell us about parking downtown?

But the survey is only one part of a comprehensive study. The second way to be heard is during two public workshops next Tuesday (March 6). The first is from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in a roving tent downtown. The second runs from 5-7:30 p.m. in the conference room of UMass Dartmouth’s Star Store campus at 715 Purchase St. in New Bedford.

Jim McKeag, a fellow with MassDevelopment’s Transformative Development Initiative, says the idea is to look at parking issues from different viewpoints and find smart solutions.

McKeag and others have heard concerns about parking from multiple sources in New Bedford — business owners, customers, public officials and more. And with the understanding that you can’t take a serious look at a problem in one small area unless you put it into the larger context, New Bedford’s parking study will gather information on both the city’s waterfront and its downtown area.

MassDevelopment, which manages State Pier; the Harbor Development Commission, which oversees harbor facilities; and the city are sharing the $75,000 price tag. Results will be collected and analyzed alongside additional research by Stantec Consulting Services.

The study area will include all of the downtown area, bounded by Kempton Street to the north, Walnut Street to the south, County Street to the west, and Route 18 to the east — plus the school administration building on County Street. Waterfront areas include the Whale’s Tooth parking lot, Pier 3, State Pier, Steamship Pier, Homer’s Wharf, Leonard’s Wharf, and available space at the Eversource site.

So what happens after the info is collected? Well, we’ve been assured that it’s not simply to write a report and file it away in some three-ring binder.

McKeag says the survey dives deep into parking behavior — how people use the existing parking and why they park in one place instead of another. So the responses might lead to sensible adjustments that bring big results.

The city might need different regulations for different users. Or officials might want to change the time limits on some meters. Maybe the price could be adjusted between parking garages and downtown meters. And maybe there simply needs to be more permanent spaces.

Planners intend to share their results with the public when Stantec completes its research.

It all sounds good to us, especially with the growing links between downtown and the city’s working waterfront — ferry service, restaurants, the hotel and a growing tourism industry.

We encourage everyone with an interest in parking to fill out the survey and attend Tuesday’s meeting. The effort could bring meaningful results. Plus, you’ll get the chance to gripe about parking with someone who is actually listening.

Original story here.

‘Lighting the Way’: Group sheds light on SouthCoast women

Posted Mar 5, 2018 at 2:19 PM

When it comes to SouthCoast history, you likely know the names Frederick Douglass, Herman Melville and Paul Cuffe. And while that’s important, a local group hopes you also know the names Marie Equi, Martha Bailey Briggs and Charlotte White.

“I hope when teachers in New Bedford are talking about Frederick Douglass, they’re also talking about Martha Bailey Briggs. That when they’re talking about Rockefeller, they’re also talking about Hetty Green.” — Committee Member Sarah Rose

When it comes to SouthCoast history, you likely know the names Frederick Douglass, Herman Melville and Paul Cuffe.

And while that’s important, a local group hopes you also know the names Marie Equi, Martha Bailey Briggs and Charlotte White.

That’s why they’ve started “Lighting the Way: Historic Women of the South Coast.”

The massive interactive history project is aimed at shedding light on women’s roles in history and “unearthing remarkable stories of women’s personal callings that required grit, tenacity and enduring commitment to their families, community and country,” project designer Christina Bascom said.

Spearheaded by the Whaling Museum, the alliance of organizations and individuals on the Lighting the Way Committee is working together in a prodigious years-long plan to educate SouthCoasters about the strong women who helped shape our history.

Aspects of the project will unfold over the next two years, organizers said.

Staring in July, you’ll be able to download an app to your phone, or grab a map, and embark on a historic walking trail throughout downtown New Bedford, stopping at some 34 landmarks highlighting compelling women’s stories.

Also in July, you’ll also be able to click through Lighting the Way’s website, currently under construction, to learn stories of some 90 educators and philanthropists, abolitionists and crusaders for social justice, investors and confectioners, and more.

The committee also plans to create a companion curriculum for local schools.

And, coming in 2020, on the 100th anniversary of women’s voting rights, they tentatively plan on unveil public art displays.

This project is not just for women, organizers were clear to point out.

“This is very inclusive and open to everybody,” said Bascom. “It’s a boon for historical societies and people who want to do research. We’re very careful to use words like ‘amplify history’ — this is not about creating a women’s history. This is about bringing balance to existing history. These women add so much color and dimension to the history of SouthCoast. It’s quite lopsided without them.”

Sarah Rose, a committee member and project leader, and Whaling Museum vice president of Education and Programs, had similar sentiments:

“We’re looking to bring life to women’s voices, to inspire generations. That’s why part of our mission is creating student curriculum — so students understand the contribution of women as significantly as they understand the contributions of men,” she said.

“I hope when teachers in New Bedford are talking about Frederick Douglass, they’re also talking about Martha Bailey Briggs. When they’re talking about Rockefeller, they’re also talking about Hetty Green,” Rose said.

“We’re really trying to stay away from criticizing history told to date— this isn’t women’s history, we’re just trying to fill in history,” Rose said. “We’re adding stories from the other fifty percent.”

There are some 90 women in total profiled as part of the project. Some lived in the 1700s; others died two years ago. Many came as submissions to the group.

If you’d like to nominate a woman of historical significance — one catch: they must be dead — contact Rose at the Whaling Museum.

Research into the women’s lives is being led by Whaling Museum research fellow Ann O’Leary, along with a team of some 10 researchers who assist her.

They have completed about 50 profiles, O’Leary said.

“All of the women rose up when they experienced or witnessed a need, and they pushed through obstacles and mobilized themselves and others,” said O’Leary, library media specialist at Bishop Stang High School and the Emily Bourne Fellow at the Whaling Museum.

Bourne is a woman of historical significance: Her gift to the Old Dartmouth Historical Society in 1915 funded construction of the world’s largest ship model, the Lagoda, and the building that houses it at the Whaling Museum, the Bourne Building.

THE ROOTS

Shedding light on women’s role in SouthCoast history was a long-held dream of Bascom’s.

The Standard-Times 2008 Marion Woman of the Year, Bascom has been involved in numerous SouthCoast community projects — from helping to found the Marion Institute, to helping found Our Sisters School in New Bedford, among many other initiatives.

“For a long time, I tried to get someone to write a book about the historic women of SouthCoast,” said Bascom.

She said in late 2016, over lunch with Rose and then Whaling Museum President James Russell, “I said, ‘This is an idea I have kicking around,’ …and this thing started rolling, and we realized we wanted something more interactive.”

The plans for a website, GPS smartphone app, walking trail, and school curriculum grew from there.

Bascom said the interactive walking trail phone app will hopefully leave a lasting impact on young SouthCoasters.

On the app, which will work with a phone’s GPS, you’ll be able to see an interactive map indicating nearby “Lighting the Way” landmarks and points of interest, while providing links to images and biographies of the associated historical figures at each address.

For those who prefer old-school paper, there will be a printed map, as well.

“There’s a quote from an article in TIME I read, ‘If you can’t see it, you can’t be it.’ And to have young girls, and boys, going around and being able to see the history — that will hopefully leave a lasting impact for future generations,” Bascom said.

Rose added, “A cornerstone of this project is using stories of historic women to inspire generations to come.”

To get involved, contact Rose at srose@whalingmuseum.org, 508-997-0046 x118.

Lauren Daley is a freelance writer. Contact her at ldaley33@gmail.com. Follow her at https://www.facebook.com/daley.writer. She tweets@laurendaley1.

Original story here:

‘Cultural Compact’ signifies collaboration between arts, New Bedford

Posted Mar 1, 2018 at 7:17 PM

With each signature scribbled onto the four documents within the Ashley Room at City Hall on Thursday night, the spotlight shining on New Bedford’s cultural scene grew brighter.

Mayor Jon Mitchell, Rick Kidder as the co-chair of the Executive Committee of the Seaport Cultural District, Anita Walker of Mass Cultural Council and Nicole Merusi of the New Bedford Cultural Council all signed a Cultural Compact, which is intended to increase and expand collaboration and partnership within the city’s art community.

“We are headlong into efforts to really activate one of New Bedford’s primary assets and that is the collection of artistic and cultural aspects that makes our city really unique,” Mitchell said.

Only six communities in the state were selected to pilot the program, which will develop a framework to spark creative partnerships between local government and cultural leaders within the community.

Walker said applications weren’t taken for the program, rather the Mass Cultural Council selected cities that offered the best opportunity for success.

The city and the Mass Cultural Council have a history of success, Walker said, from the creation of cultural district program to the cultural facilities fund.

“When we start something new, to be honest with you, we don’t want to make it harder than it has to be. We want to make it as easy as it possibly can be,” Walker said. “And the way you do that is you bring a partner that is a proven partner and that we have worked with successfully.”

With the program, Mass Cultural Council intends to provide technical assistance through webinars, podcasts, meetings, training and workshops.

The Cultural Council and Seaport Cultural District will provide programs aimed at increasing artist sustainability, updating the public art inventory, increasing the promotion of current art, music and culture programs as well as developing online resources.

“The Cultural Compact is really putting down on paper and institutionalizing a lot of the things that have been happening here already,” Walker said.

The city began its Arts Culture and Tourism Fund in 2016. State Sen. Mark Montigny led the required passage through the state legislature.

Last year, the relationship between the city and its cultural scene continued with the addition of Margo Saulnier, the city’s cultural coordinator.

Saulnier quoted English playwright Bernard Shaw as he compared his life to a torch that can burn bright for everyone to see.

“The individuals in the creative community and creative economy has already been carrying this splendid torch,” Saulnier said. “So the cultural compact that we’ll be signing and the arts and culture plan that we’re in the early stages of developing will make it bright as possible for the city’s future generations.”

Follow Michael Bonner on Twitter @MikeBBonnerSCT.

Original story here.