‘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.

A new generation of New Bedford artists has opened galleries, living, and work spaces

Posted Jan 6, 2018 at 9:31 PM

Almost 20 years ago, the UMass Dartmouth School of Visual and Performing Arts came to downtown New Bedford and with it the Whaling City’s quiet rebirth as a magnet for working artists.

That seeding has now borne larger fruit over the past few years as the city has experienced a flowering of new galleries, open studios and art spaces.

From the Hatch Street Studios in the North End to the studios at the former Kilburn Mills in the South End, the galleries up and down William Street in the downtown and over to Groundwork’s exhibit space on Purchase Street, the painters, sculptors, mixed-media artists are here. They’re literally creating a new chapter of the New Beford experience.

“The city is undergoing an arts transformation citywide,” said Dagny Ashley, New Bedford’s director of tourism.

The latest wave will reach a milestone next week with the opening of the new 10,000-square foot Co-Creative Center on Union Street.

It’s been a fairly steady build-up for about a decade. Among the landmarks: 123 Sawtooth, an artists’ lofts located in the former Ropeworks Building where Market Basket would soon be built at the former Fairhaven Mills site. Colo-Colo Gallery, a popular space in the upscale Historic District moved to a spacious former factory space in the South End. Two artists even opened a gallery, The Vault, in a former bank building just over the Dartmouth line.

A WHALE AND A NIVED

It was the Waterfront Historic Area League (WHALE) that went out and obtained the grants and purchased the historic downtown office buildings that became the Co-Creative Center.

“This is a major investment for downtown New Bedford,” says WHALE executive director Teri Bernert, “not only in bringing beautiful historic buildings back to life but also creating a dynamic footprint for the area’s creative minds to collaborate.”

In addition to 2,000 square feet of gear-filled, open maker space that will be open to community members, the center (which WHALE has been developing for nearly three years) will also offer education, gallery, and retail space, a locally-sourced juice bar, and apartments for artists. It will also house many area not-for-profit organizations, including the Women’s Fund of Southeast MA (www.womensfundsema.org).

“This has been a collaboration with a lot of different individuals in the creative economy and in the non-profit world,” Bernert explained. “It is an idea born out of the community.”

One of the city’s interesting new artists is Devin “Nived” McLaughlin, of Nived Art (http://nivedart.com).

“I’ve watched the New Bedford Art scene ebb and flow,” said McLaughlin, who received a fine art degree from Bristol Community College in 2012.

McLaughlin began his professional career showing his work at many of the city galleries he visited as a younger art lover and he now hosts and shares his wit and wisdom at popular Paint Nite events in the area. “I’ve seen galleries in the area hold their first grand opening exhibition and I’ve watched those places close their doors for the last time, but never without leaving a mark on the culture here,” he said.

Just as the waves on the coast do, McLaughlin suggested the waves of New Bedford culture “ebb and flow” though he sees the current wave building towards a “high tide.”

“Every time a new project starts,” he said, “it greets this city with a grander, more powerful influence, inspiring others to create, discuss and enjoy art more.”

And while New Bedford’s historic buildings and breathtaking water views may inspire many, McLaughlin said it is the people who make the city arts scene shine.

“We have a huge community of driven artists from all skill sets and backgrounds,” he said. “It’s these folks that are breathing life into this city.”

THE STAR STORE

The cultural center where much of the region’s initial creative energy percolated is the College of Visual and Performing Arts, which in 2011 moved into a $19 million reincarnation of what was once the dry goods mecca known as the Star Store.

“UMass…has been the catalyst with the downtown campus,” Ashley said.

“The UMass art department moving to the Star Store building had a big impact of the arts in downtown New Bedford,” agreed artist Judith Klein (www.judithkleinart.com), who opened her first gallery downtown nine years ago but has since moved to the South End complex.

“Art students from our program…end up staying in the area and establish a studio in the several mill buildings that have wonderful spaces for our work,” said long-time UMass fine arts professor Marc St. Pierre.

And local artists are not the only ones taking notice. In fact, 2011 was also the year that New Bedford was cited by urban studies scholar and “creative class” creator Richard Florida as the “seventh most artistic city in America,” based upon the population density of its artists.

“The critical mass of artists, performers, galleries, and cultural institutions that flourish in New Bedford have created the ambience of a vibrant coastal cultural center,” Ashley said.

Just six years later, the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) named New Bedford the “most creative community” in the commonwealth. The city has also been cited by Bustle as sixth on the list “Best Cities for Young Artists” (it was the only Massachusetts city listed and one of only two in New England. ) Matadornetwork’s called the “the ninth most artistic town in America” and Complex cited it as one of its “10 Cities That Creatives Should Move to That Aren’t NYC or LA.”

“New Bedford is the place to be, whether you are an artist or a patron,” McLaughlin said.

AHA! AT THE BEGINNING

While many individuals and efforts deserve thanks, the arts engine that was there even before the Star Store was the monthly art party known as AHA! (www.ahanewbedford.org). AHA!, short for Art, History, Architecture, is a city-wide cultural event during which artists and entertainers come out into the streets and public spaces on the second Thursday of the month.

“AHA! is a platform for community participation and collaboration,” explained director Lee Heald, “Our monthly celebration of the arts and culture scene, the diverse city population, fabulous food, performing arts, and feasts and festivals have attracted new development and business growth, populated the city center with residents and students, increased tourism and generated new enthusiasm in this vibrant community,”

When AHA! was created in 1999, New Bedford did not have what Heald refers to as “a gallery scene.” In fact, she admitted, the city then had what could only be described as “a deserted downtown” with perhaps more criminal than creative activity.

“New Bedford had become a place few would visit,” Heald said. ”[It] was a Gateway City…[but] a gateway to what, was the question.”

AHA!’s mission was to make New Bedford “a vibrant city again, to attract new creative potential and expand cultural activities.” At the first AHA!, a little over 250 people came to interact with just 14 artistic partners. Today, Heald said AHA! engages over 65 partners and enjoys a regular audience in the thousands.

“We have learned that partners and partnerships create the program,” she said, echoing Bernert’s comments that fostering collaboration and mutual trust have been the “core mission” of the downtown revival.

A HISTORY OF ARTISTS

While the latest developments are noteworthy, New Bedford’s cultural tide has been coming in for some time.

“New Bedford has always maintained a vibrant creative life,” Ashley said, even before the big revival of the last 15 years.

In the 19th century, artists like William Bradford, Albert Pinkham Ryder, Clifford Ashley, and Albert Bierstadt grew up in the city or started their careers here. The Swain School of Design (which merged with UMass Dartmouth in 1988) attracted other artists from further afield.

The New Bedford Free Public Library housed one of the region’s first serious art collections. More recently, restorations and expansion of the New Bedford Whaling Museum (www.whalingmuseum.org) and the Zeiterion Performing Arts Center (https://zeiterion.org) brought a higher focus on culture to town.

“At one point, New Bedford was the richest city in the world, and home to over 20 theaters,” explained Rosemary Gil, the Zeiterion’s executive director of programming. “Today, The Zeiterion is the only remaining operating theater.”

In the 1980s, community activism helped keep “the Z” from becoming the last word in New Bedford theater.

These days, the theater hosts scores of performances each year (including shows by such legends as Alan Cumming, Jay Leno, the late Joan Rivers, and locally-raised star Samantha Johnson). It provides more than15,000 students with curriculum-based school-time events. In addition to hosting performing arts organizations like the New Bedford Symphony Orchestra (www.nbsymphony.org) and New Bedford Festival Theater (www.nbfestivaltheatre.com), the Zeiterion (which Gill calls a “cultural beacon” in New Bedford) also helps host festivals that attract thousands to the area.

THE ART MUSEUM AND GALLERY X

According to former Mayor Frederick Kalisz Jr., the “critical mass ” of the arts resurgence in New Bedford came with the city’s acquisition of the Art Museum Building and the creation of a gallery on the first floor. The museum effort began under former Mayor Rosemary Tierney. Kalisz credits then City Councilor Ken Ferreira, who came to vote despite being ill at the time.

Another important development was the opening in 1990 of Gallery X, a collaborative artist space that drew on many graduates of the Swain School. It was a time, when co-founder Chuck Hauck said “there were no other contemporary galleries in New Bedford.”

Described on its Facebook page (www.facebook.com/pg/GalleryXNewBedford) as “a place, a collective, an art gallery, a performance space, a funhouse, a basement club, a party palace, a church, a meeting house, [and] a cornerstone to NB’s Creative/Art scene,” Gallery X has since been a place where “artists of all disciplines and persuasions can display or perform the fruits of their creative labors.”

As New Bedford is still a “cheap city to live in, with loft and studio space available cheap,” Hauck said attracting more artists has not been difficult, even in the early days. Even so, he admitted even he has been surprised by the rapid expansion in recent years.

Spotting the trend in the city, New Bedford native Margo Saulnier came home after years of work with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and other cultural organizations to serve as the city’s arts and culture strategist.

When asked about the key moments in the revival, Saulnier first mentioned 1996, the year that the New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park was recognized as a United States National Historical Park and also the founding that same year of the New Bedford Historical Society (www.nbhistoricalsociety.org), which has focused its efforts on documenting and celebrating the history and contemporary contributions of African Americans, Cape Verdeans, Native Americans, West Indians and other people of color in New Bedford.

“The diversity of views allows New Bedford to have a rich tapestry of stories to tell and attract new audiences,” Heald said, noting many residents can trace their heritage back to the Underground Railroad that once brought fugitive slaves to the city.

Saulnier also credited the creation of the Creative Economy Task Force in 2008 with encouraging cultural and other development.

“There is a need for new business due to the student influx,” Saulnier said, “and the large population of creative young people influence the revitalization.”

The MCC, has brought over $1 million a year to the city, she said. Its local arm – the New Bedford Local Cultural Council (www.mass-culture.org/New-Bedford) has distributed about $70,000 in grants to local artists and also helped bring local schoolchildren to many cultural centers and events in the region. “The Seaport Cultural District has branded downtown cultural assets within a walkable geographic area,” Ashley points out. “Understanding the future potential of this sector is vital to our strategy for economic development as well as to the quality of life of everyone living in and visiting our city.”

“The power of cultural enterprise, creativity and collaboration are essential keys to New Bedford’s unique and distinctive identity,” Heald said. “Around this core, New Bedford has built a sense of place, engaged residents, forged a new economy and demonstrated how a Gateway City can show the pathway to the future.”

“New Bedford’s renaissance, cultural and otherwise, is the sum of many, many parts,” Gill said. “From a mayor who gets the connection between a healthy arts community and the economy to dozens of hard-working non-profit organizations, to artists of many disciplines who have chosen to make this their home, and the hope and promise of a young generation of entrepreneurs creating an interesting retail landscape – New Bedford [continues to be] on the rise.”

“We are already seeing bigger and bigger waves,” McLaughlin said. “Who knows what well see in the future?”

Original story here.

New Bedford Regional Airport adds commercial flights to Florida

City’s art museum hires UMD grad as new executive director

Nov 6, 2017 at 9:12 PM

Ashley Occhino, a University of Massachusetts Dartmouth graduate, has been named as the new executive director of the New Bedford Art Museum/ArtWorks!, officials announced Monday.

“I’ve always found myself coming back to New Bedford again and again. There’s such a rich art community there,” said Occhino, who is in her mid 30s. She’s from Attleboro and lives in Taunton.

Occhino has served as the manager of studio class programs at the Worcester Art Museum since 2014.

Occhino is set to take the helm Nov. 27. Her leadership follows retirement of Noelle Foye who shepherded the merger between the New Bedford Art Museum and ArtWorks! which occurred in 2014 and directed the combined organization. Under Foye’s guidance, exhibitions and educational programs grew while collaborations with other institutions expanded, according to a news release from the museum.

“Noelle Foye’s leadership positioned the art museum to be central to the community and that strength has allowed us to attract such a new talented leader,” said Lee Heald, director of AHA! and a member of the museum’s board and search committee for a new executive director. “We expect that Ashley will continue our strong support of community expression in the arts as well as support for excellence and achievement in the local arts community.”

Heald also said Occhino has a lot of enthusiasm and will bring a fresh perspective to the city.

“New Bedford holds a very special place in my heart and it’s through my times at UMass Dartmouth that I really learned about the city,” Occhino said.

She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) from UMass Dartmouth College of Visual and Performing Arts and has an MFA from Savannah College of Art and Design. She was one of the first classes to experience the Star Store in New Bedford, part of her thesis involved displaying work at ArtWorks! and she’s also taught art classes there, she said.

At the Worcester Art Museum, Occhino said she was in charge of developing programming, managing staff and working with community partners. Also, an education wing with dedicated exhibition space fell under her purview. The museum has an intensive education program with more than 100 classes each season, Occhino said.

She’s previously held leadership positions at Danforth Art in Framingham and the Fuller Craft Museum in Brockton, each time serving in education departments.

“I really just want to embrace the idea of a community museum,” Occhino said. She praised Foye for being successful with the merger, adding “I’m really honored to be following in her footsteps.”

“We are excited the New Bedford Art Museum/Artworks! has hired Ashley Occhino as the museum’s new Executive Director. The NB Art Museum/Artworks! is ideal for arts travelers and invigorates the community. Ashley is familiar with the arts & culture landscape in New Bedford as well as her years of experience and passion for the arts, we look forward to working with her,” said Dagny Ashley, the city’s director of tourism and marketing, in a statement.

Jamie Uretsky, curator at NBAM/ArtWorks! said she looks forward to removing her hat as acting director.

“I’ve only heard good things about Ashley,” Uretsky said. “It’s going to be nice to have her energy in the space.”

Follow Aimee Chiavaroli on Twitter @AimeeC_SCT

Original Story Here

 

 

Refurbished Seamen’s Bethel and Mariners’ Home opens in New Bedford


By Steve Urbon

NEW BEDFORD — Visitors to the Whaling Museum had a pleasant surprise waiting for them when they bought their tickets Friday: Tickets may have gone up a dollar to $17, but that extra dollar bought them admission to the “soft” opening day of the refurbished Seamen’s Bethel and Mariners’ Home.

Fred Toomey, president of the Port Society of New Bedford, which owns the two buildings, showed up at 7:30 a.m. Friday to pick up where he and others left off in completing the building projects. “This has been my second home,” he said. “My wife never sees me.”

Whaling Museum curator Arthur Motta and senior historian Michael Dyer were among those installing antiques and images from the museum’s vast collection in the Mariners’ Home, which is open to the public for the first time in anyone’s memory. No longer will it be a haven for mariners but rather a museum with themed exhibits representing facets of New Bedford. The original kitchen is now an exhibit devoted to modern fishing, and the brick beehive oven has been exposed to admire but not actually use.

There is a room devoted to “Moby-Dick,” the book and especially the movie. There is the Rotch Room, so named for the family that built the Mariners’ Home in 1797.

A walk-through the Home and the Bethel makes it clear that this $2.9 million restoration and expansion project has given Toomey and the rest of the society and the docents a lot of new things to talk about.

In the new main entry, back behind the buildings, is a reception desk made entirely out of salvaged wood and planks.

The desk top, Toomey explains, “came from a plank that was 29 feet long and 30 inches wide and made up a part of the floor” of the Bethel’s basement meeting room, or salt box. “Imagine the size of the tree that came from,“e said.

Over in the Bethel, unlike the Mariners’ Home, everything looks as it has. But there are hidden improvements. “The building is air-conditioned for the first time,” Toomey said.

It is also structurally stable, as compared to the dire condition prior to the project that found the Bethel ready to collapse.

“There’s $89,000 worth of work underneath the floor” of the saltbox, Toomey said. Rotten support beams had taken their toll.

Another selling point: A large granite block, perhaps six feet square and 16 inches thick, is the new welcome mat, having been discovered when uncovering an old cistern.

The Bethel rests on ledge, which brought its own issues. Repairs to the floors had to be done in the Bethel by digging down to uneven ledge, then filling with packed sand, peastone gravel, concrete, two-by-four stringers, marine plywood and then the floorboard.

There is an elevator for the first time to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. It is big enough to handle a gurney, Toomey said. “We don’t say casket.” That is a reminder that the Bethel is a church and sometimes hosts funerals.

Most visitors won’t see the second and third floors of the Mariners’ Home. The second floor is already occupied by the Waterfront Historic Area League, and the Preservation Society will soon move in to the shared space.

The third floor will house the Port Society, a conference room and a kitchen/break room.

The project has raised much of what it needed to pay for it all, but Toomey said that “the capital campaign continues.”

At the Whaling Museum, which has filled the Mariners’ Home with dozens of objects and more to come, admission has risen a dollar to $17, and it is now a combined admission to the Whaling Museum and the Port Society’s properties.

Toohey said there will not be a paid ticket to get into the Bethel and Mariners’ Home directly because it is a church. Anyone who skips the museum will be admitted anyway with a polite request for a donation to defray expenses.

An official grand opening is set for May 19.

Follow Steve Urbon on Twitter @SteveUrbonSCT.

 

Original Story Here

National fiber art magazine’s inaugural exhibit lands in New Bedford

Contemporary fiber art is not your grandmother’s crocheted afghan.

Excellence in Fibers, an exhibition of selected works drawn from the second annual international juried print exhibition published by Fiber Art Now magazine, presents some of the most exciting and innovative work being done today in the world of contemporary fiber art.

The show, up at New Bedford Art Museum / ArtWorks! from Jan. 25 to March 19, is FAN’s first venture into presenting their print exhibition in a real-world venue.

Fiber Art Now received submissions from artists around the world in response to the call for entries. The prestigious panel of jurors were: Emily Zilber, Curator, MFA Boston; Gerhardt Knodel and Norma Minkowitz, both internationally recognized fiber artists and icons in the field of fiber; and Melissa Leventon, principal of Curatrix Group Museum Consultants and a former curator at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

Of the over 50 works in the print exhibition, 31 were selected for the show at NBAM/AW.

Excellence in Fibers runs the gamut from established artists to newcomers; from traditional age-old basket weaving techniques to digital manipulation and printing; from familiar sewing and quilt making to laser cutting techniques.

Within the broad category of fiber, the show includes weaving, sewing, applique, embroidery, basket making, sculpture, crochet, felting, screen printing, joomchi and knotting.

As part of the print exhibition, special awards were given and several of those are in this show.

Nicole Benner’s Comfort/Confine is a large work of crocheted copper wire that becomes a performance piece when donned by a wearer. Named as the Paul J. Smith Award for Excellence in Fiber winner, Benner’s work is a thought-provoking piece on the effects of chronic pain.

“In Comfort/Confine, I utilize the copper yarn as a reference to the nervous system: an aspect of my own chronic pain that can be debilitating. Here the body has defined mobility, only capable of reaching where the textile allows,” the artist stated in the exhibition issue of Fiber Art Now. Benner hails from Marshall, Missouri.

Joel Allen’s hand-wrapped, tied and knotted work Hooked on Svelte was named the winner in the installation category. A series of large mixed media pendants are suspended from the ceiling creating a fun, textured and colorful display 12 feet long by this Steamboat Springs, Colorado, artist.

At the other end of the size spectrum, at only 17 inches in height, is Massachusetts artist Lois Russel’s NZ, a little jewel of twined waxed linen thread – and winner in the Vessel Forms/Basketry category.

The Nigerian Riot Girl, by artist Jacky M. Puzey of the United Kingdom, is one of the international submissions. Employing a tour de force of fiber techniques, this winner of the Wearables Award is an intricate couture dress designed and constructed by the artist that dazzles with a complex mix of materials.

In the Wall/Floor Works category artist Heather Ujiie of Langhorne, Pennsylvania was named the winner for her textile mural consisting of five panels that together are 126 inches by 250 inches. Battle of the Sea Monsters was originally hand drawn in markers, pen and ink, then scanned at high resolution, digitally manipulated and printed on canvas. Vibrantly colored, the work is an intense mass of men, women and other creatures waging a ferocious battle on a lemon colored sea.

The complete list of artists also includes David Bacharach, Pat Hickman, Pat Burns-Wendland, Pat Busby, Anna Carlson, Deborah Corsini, Ania Gilmore, Anna Kristina Goransson, Meredith Grimsley, Henry Hallett, Patricia Kennedy-Zafred, Jean Koon, Mariko Kusumoto, Jeannet Leendertse, Dorothy McGuinness, Alicia Merrett, Elizabeth Odiorne, Kathryn Rousso, Chloe Sachs, Diane Savona, Deloss Webber and Wendy Weiss.

The opening reception for Excellence in Fibers will be held Sunday Jan. 29 from 2 to 5 p.m. Marcia Young, editor-in-chief of Fiber Art Now, along with a number of the artists, will be on hand. Workshops by well-known fiber artists Elin Noble and Jeanne Flanagan will be offered in New Bedford the preceding day.

Registrations and special hotel discounts are available through Fiber Art Now.

For further information contact the Museum at 508.961.3072 or visit www.NewBedfordArt.org.

New Bedford Art Museum/ArtWorks! is located at 608 Pleasant Street, New Bedford. Gallery hours are Wednesday through Sunday noon to 5 p.m.; open every Thursday until 9 p.m.

Original Story Here:

New festival offers opportunity to eat, drink and be merry in New Bedford

Posted Jan 12, 2017 at 2:59 PM
By

NEW BEDFORD – A Massachusetts-based event company is bringing a trendy new addition to New Bedford’s slate of summertime festivals.

The city will host a Food Truck and Craft Beer Festival on July 15 at Fort Taber.

The event, announced Thursday, will bring at least 20 food trucks from the surrounding region and more than a dozen local, regional and national breweries.

“We are delighted they chose us as one of their locations,” said Dagny Ashley, the city’s Director of Tourism and Marketing. “We were looking for new ways to attract new visitors and new demographics to New Bedford and we thought this would be a good way to doing that.”

Ashley reached out in the fall to Anne-Marie Aigner, president of Allston-based Aigner/Prensky Marketing Group and executive producer of Food Truck Festivals of America, about bringing a festival to the city.

“I’ll be honest with you, I’ve lived in Massachusetts for 35 years and I don’t know if I’ve ever been in New Bedford,” Aigner said. “But when I drove around with Dagny …; I was totally blown away.”

The festival, Aigner said, could help spread the word about all New Bedford has to offer.

“We’re using a trendy event …; to draw young people to the area for a reason other than, ‘Hey, come see New Bedford,'” she said. “Once they get there, I think they’ll have the same reaction I did – ‘Wow, I didn’t know this was here.'”

Ashley said that is precisely the goal.

“Let’s bring them in and show them everything we have to offer in the city,” she said.

The tour began in 2011 in the Pine Hills community in Plymouth. It has since grown to a national concern.

“At the first one in 2011 we had eight trucks. We now have a listing in New England alone of 550 food trucks,” Aigner said.

It has effectively seized upon the rise in food culture and the spike in popularity of craft beers.

“Food trucks and craft beer, it was a marriage made in heaven in our books,” she said.

Original Article Here:

 

 

Nantucket-New Bedford ferry has strong summer

By

NEW BEDFORD — The harbor was a much busier place than usual last summer, as a strong revival of Nantucket ferry service boosted Seastreak’s passenger numbers and ridership skyrocketed on launches to and from Pope’s Island, local moorings, City Pier and other spots, ferry and harbor leaders said Thursday.

“We definitely saw an incline (in passengers),” Seastreak general manager John Silvia said Thursday. “It was a good season, very good.”

Silvia, reached outside his office and without access to firm numbers, said Seastreak had about 45,000 passengers on the first season of revived ferry service to and from Nantucket, which ran from May 18 through Labor Day. Seastreak’s service to Martha’s Vineyard also began May 18, and ran through Columbus Day.

Total ridership for all Seastreak services over the summer was nearly 120,000, he said, well above the summer 2015 total of about 70,000.

Silvia said in May that Seastreak was expecting to increase ridership by about 37,000 passengers.

“I think the service outperformed what we were expecting,” said Ed Anthes-Washburn, port director for the city’s Harbor Development Commission (HDC). “I think it’s a great sign for New Bedford that in the first year, that (Nantucket) service was going like gangbusters. We look forward to getting as many of those people to stop in and learn about New Bedford as we can.”

Increases in ferry passengers can have ripple effects throughout the local economy. Anthes-Washburn said a difference in local foot and vehicle traffic was noticeable over the summer.

He said that over the Fourth of July weekend, for example, “we filled the Whale’s Tooth parking lot to capacity” for the first time in about 10 years.

“We definitely saw a big difference in parking revenue,” he said.

Silvia said the Nantucket ferry service “absolutely” will continue next year, in addition to other current destinations — and new destinations could be coming in future years.

Silvia said Seastreak is “building a new boat” that will be based in New York City and make runs to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, while docking in New Bedford over the summer weekends.

Once that boat is on the water, Silvia said, a Seastreak boat currently used in New York will come here. That 141-foot vessel has a capacity of 500 passengers, he said, and could increase spots for Vineyard service while also freeing up a smaller boat for potential runs to new destinations, possibly starting in 2018.

“Potentially Provincetown, maybe Block Island, we’re not sure,” Silvia said. “We’re excited to be growing the New Bedford end of things. There are a lot of new things coming up on the horizon in the next few years that will continue our growth and really put us on the map.”

Anthes-Washburn said recreational boating activity picked up on the harbor, as well. Ridership on the HDC’s launch service jumped from just over 1,000 last summer to more than 3,000 rides this summer, he said.

Much of the increase was seen in “transient moorings,” or people coming in on boats from outside the area, he said.

Anthes-Washburn said while the busiest route for launch rides was between moorings and the Pope’s Island marina, the second-busiest was between the island and City Pier — indicating summertime visitors were heading toward events on the pier or downtown.

“We’re showing people that New Bedford is a unique place to visit, and that seems to be resonating,” he said.

Original Story Here

New Bedford Harbor as a Sailing Destination & Adventure!

By LUCY ALEXANDER

Blue Hill, Eastern, Corinthian, Edgewood, Red Brook, Beverly, New Bedford; these are not just a string of names and places, but some of New England’s top yacht clubs. Add to that list – Cruising Club of America and the Catalina Owners Association. Now, can you guess what they all have in common? Answer: This summer they will all be setting sail for historic New Bedford Harbor.

Once considered strictly a commercial fishing harbor, through the efforts of the Harbor Development Commission (HDC) this well-protected, deep water harbor has been transformed into a Mecca for visiting boaters. The 2010 re-grid of the Pope’s Island mooring field at the north end of the harbor, newly installed ground tackle and the fact that the mooring field can now accommodate boats up to 55 LOA have played a big role in making this a popular destination for regional boat clubs and organizations. Both Pope’s Island Marina and the U.S. Coast Guard Park (located on the downtown waterfront) have been upgraded with new dinghy docks.

Pope’s Island has nothing to do with the Vatican but its location is divine. The small island is home to a big marina known for creating a welcoming community for seasonal and transient boaters alike. Operated by HDC, the marina sits prominently at the head of the harbor like a jewel in the city’s recreational boating crown. Additionally, the location offers easy access to downtown restaurants, museums, galleries and other attractions – including the Whaling National Park Historic District. Flanked by New Bedford on one side and Fairhaven on the other, the marina is also convenient to a ships chandlery, hardware store, engine repair/parts and canvas shop.

Top this all off with much to do within walking distance of the downtown waterfront and you have the perfect destination. Just a few blocks from the Visitors Center is the New Bedford Whaling Museum and Ocean Emporium. Art galleries are abundant, as well as an array of shopping opportunities and an eclectic selection of restaurants Ð from casual to fine dining; seafood to Italian, Portuguese and whatever your palette is craving!

In addition to being such an excellent cruising destination, New Bedford is a very nice gateway to Martha’s Vineyard. For all of you who love the water, would like to visit beautiful places and don’t want to drive or hop aboard their own boat Ð here is the answer to your summer vacation! If you live close to Atlantic Highlands, NJ or Manhattan, catch a ride on Seastreak! Seastreak leaves Chelsea Pier on Friday afternoons for Martha’s Vineyard. The ship gets onto the Island at about 10 pm and leaves Sunday afternoon – a perfect schedule for a weekend break or a 10-day island vacation.

For those who live closer to Eastern Connecticut, a two-hour drive will put you in New Bedford where you can either explore the city or board Seastreak. Seastreak arrives at Oak Bluffs on the Vineyard, where transportation to anywhere on the island be arranged. Rent a car, catch a cab or catch the island bus, which operates until the wee morning hours during the summer.

Even without a boat, the Vineyard offers so much to do! One of my favorite weekend past times is to buy a day pass on the bus. Pick up a route map at the bus ticket office, get on and off where you want. The island’s transit system will take you just about anyplace you want to go Ð including Morning Glory Farm, which is famous for its fresh produce and specialty products.

Of course, if the bus isn’t your thing, you can always tour the island in the luxury of a rental car. But scooters and bikes are an other option for those who want to feel the sun on their face and wind in their hair. With so many little delis and the local Stop & Shop, it’s easy to throw together a picnic lunch and head for your favorite corner of the island Ð be it a beach or an off-the-path hideaway. Whatever your sightseeing and relaxation needs may be, you are sure to find them on the Vineyard!

New Bedford Harbor no longer a secret, but New England’s new, must visit sailing destination and your gateway to the world beyond!

For more information visit windcheckmagazine.com – go to the third page of our cruising section and read Laurie Bullard’s Destination New Bedford story; visit newbedford-ma.gov or ahanewbedford.org Visit seastreakmv.com and mvy.com to plan your Martha’s Vineyard vacation.

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