Anita Walker, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Cultural Council, message about the superpower of art & culture

December 2018 looking ahead:

“We are on the front lines of a war on poverty. Not necessarily a shortage of material wealth, although its distribution in America is both a consequence and contributor to the current distress.

The poverty our field confronts every day is that which Robert Kennedy confronted while running for President in 1968. He contrasted the wealth represented in the nation’s gross national product with the wealth necessary to sustain a democracy and make life worth living. 

He said, “…the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country. It measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.”

We are currently in one of the best economies in a generation, but studies show record declines in our sense of well-being. Worse yet, life expectancy in the U.S. has declined for the third straight year. Major newspapers are sounding the alarm. In the Washington Post, George Will writes that loneliness, a major public health problem, is in “epidemic proportions” and that people are unhappier, more isolated and less fulfilled. David Brooks claims, in the New York Times, the biggest factor is the crisis of connection. We are “in a straight-up social catastrophe,” he writes. 
 
For nearly the last 20 years, those of us who advocate for the arts and culture have made the economy the centerpiece of our argument. We’ve collected economic impact data, counted the jobs we create and the taxes we generate, and touted our centrality to the tourism industry. We became the poster child of the creative economy. In an environment of it’s the economy stupid, these arguments won over state legislators and delivered budget increases to state arts agencies.

Five years ago, I wrote a column for a national arts blog suggesting that it was time to dial back the economic argument, even suggesting that there is something powerful about the intrinsic value of the arts. That the transforming power of culture is the power of creative expression, human engagement, and empathy. 

This is the poverty of our time. When Kennedy spoke of joy, beauty, intelligence, integrity, wit, wisdom, courage, compassion, and devotion he spoke of the ideals that are inherent in art and culture.

The arts and culture are the antidote to what ails us as a nation. In fact, they can both prevent and cure. Studies show that creative and cultural participation enhances human health and well-being leading to: reduced social isolation; opportunities for learning; calming experiences and decreased anxiety; more optimism, hope and enjoyment; increased self-esteem and sense of identity; increased inspiration and “meaning-making;” and better communication.

I can write about the studies and outcomes, but the heart is more articulate:
“It is a remarkable experience to witness a high school student watching a young adult with down’s syndrome or cerebral palsy offer a sonnet, and think to himself, ‘I want to do that. I want to have that kind of courage, that kind of conviction.’ Or to be a man or a woman of any age and watch someone you have typecast in your heart of hearts as somehow less than, stand in the center of a crowd and speak a truth about what it is like to dream of being seen for all of what you offer and know that a wall has just fallen…and through that kind of honest performance, know that you have been changed for the better,” writes Maria Sirois about Community Access to the Arts in Great Barrington, an organization that unleashes the arts in people with disabilities.

Music can help stroke victims regain their speech. You’re never too old to sing, or dance, or paint. Victims of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia find calm and clarity through the arts. Art is a universal language that bridges race, ethnicity, and culture – in a neighborhood, or across continents. The arts help explain the complexity of physics or climate change. Science and art are close cousins, sharing the bloodlines of creativity, risk taking, and problem solving.
 
Massachusetts cultural organizations are committed to serving everybody in the Commonwealth. They joined a new program this year to offer the benefits only the arts and culture can provide to people who have fallen on hard times and are receiving assistance through the state EBT card, a card that provides help to families living near the poverty level. Our organizations agreed to offer free or greatly reduced admission prices to EBT cardholders. In our first year, we tracked 220,000 EBT admissions. 

Nearly a quarter of a million doses of arts and culture to people in need. Again, the heart is in the stories. One concertgoer, who had not been able to attend a concert in years said, “It was nice to have a slice of my old life back.” Another said “It’s hard to describe the feeling of being able to do something ‘normal’ when everything else isn’t.”

The Mass Cultural Council is not an economic development agency, but when we do arts well, tourists visit and spend money, communities become destinations and better places to live, jobs are supported and created, innovators want to live here, and build new businesses.
 
The Mass Cultural Council is not an education agency, but when children have a quality experience participating in the arts, in school, and out of school, they exercise their creative minds, learn to think critically, are better observers and team players, and get a better education.

The Mass Cultural Council is not a human service agency, but when some of our most troubled youth participate in arts programs that give them a productive outlet for their fears and anger, provide a supportive community, build self-esteem and teach skills that will last a lifetime, these young people are saved from gangs, prison, drugs, even death.

In her book “Not for Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities,” philosopher Martha Nussbaum writes:

“Citizens cannot relate well to the complex world around them by factual knowledge and logic alone. The third ability of the citizen, closely related to the first two, is what we can call the narrative imagination. This means the ability to think what it might be like to be in the shoes of a person different from oneself, to be an intelligent reader of that person’s story, and to understand the emotions and wishes and desires that someone so placed might have.”

Martha Nussbaum is a close reader of Aristotle, who defined the good life as one that was authentically meaningfully rich: rich with relationships, ideas, emotion, health and vigor, recognition and contribution, passion and fulfillment, great accomplishment, and enduring achievement.

George Will writes of the crumbling of America’s social infrastructure and the need for new habits of mind and heart, new practices of neighborliness. David Brooks says, “It’s not jobs, jobs, jobs anymore. It’s relationships, relationships, relationships.” Real relationships, not virtual or transactional ones. True engagement of heart and mind.

The poverty we face is one we can defeat. Novelist Alice Walker once said, “The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.”
 
Story. Imagination. Empathy. This is our superpower: the power of culture.” – 
Anita Walker , Executive Director, Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) 

Visit the Mass Cultural Council website

Have a podcast listen – Creative Minds Out Loud:  podcast for art and Culture –  Informative and lively conversations with arts and cultural leaders. Creative Minds Out Loud is a project of the Mass Cultural Council, and is hosted by Executive Director Anita Walker. https://creativemindsoutloud.org

 

 

cultural districts across the state convened at Natick Center for the Arts MCC #powerofculture

Cape Ann participated in the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) statewide cultural district convening which was hosted by the Natick Center for the Arts. Statewide district gatherings occur once or twice a year: the last two were held in Cambridge, and Beverly. Representatives from Gloucester, Rockport and Essex cultural districts were in attendance. (Manchester and Ipswich do not not have a designation at this time. Gloucester could have seven.)

Massachusetts Cultural Council Director, Anita Walker, welcomed the crowd, and introduced officials from Natick and new additions to the MCC staff. Jill Cahill, Gloucester’s Director of Community Development, brought a gift from the Mayor and the City to add to a send-off  of thanks and well wishes for Meri Jenkins, longtime MCC leader who managed cities and towns through cultural facilities funding and district designations. Luis Edgardo Cotto and Justina Crawford will be taking over the MCC Community Initiative programs managed by Meri.

MERI JENKINS helped cities and towns statewide having served Massachusetts Cultural Council nearly 20+ years_©c ryan Oct 2018 MCC cultural district convening Natick MA venue.jpg

 

The MCC approved five year district renewals for both Rocky Neck and Rockport last year. District renewal for Gloucester’s downtown is underway. Essex received official citations for their renewal at this convening. Here’s a photo of Christopher Stepler, artist and Manager of Essex Shipbuilding Museum, and Lee Spence, former Director. One update they shared was that the successful historic exhibition The Women of Essex – Stories to Share displayed at Essex Town Hall in a renovated bright space on the top floor above the TOHP Burnham Public Library (thanks in part to Cultural Facilities funding) was selected to travel to the NPS regional Visitor Center in Salem.

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prior GMG post with MCC October news 

Massachusetts Cultural Council announces new cultural district funding: Gloucester eligible for $10,000

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Announcement from the Massachusetts Cultural Council:

“Some good news to share: As the Mass Cultural Council (MCC) allocation was increased this year we are able to provide financial support to all the designated cultural districts for Fiscal Year 2019. Each district is eligible to receive a grant of up to $5,000 based on the submission of a plan of action and budget outlining the use of funds. The use of funds must be in line with the goals of the cultural district initiative…(such as) fees for professional consultants; hiring staff to manage or coordinate district activities; marketing and promotion of district activities and events; and fees connected to new cultural programs. Grant funds cannot be used for capital improvement projects or non-arts related activities…We are very delighted to be able to offer this small investment to support your work.”

Gloucester is eligible to apply for up to $10,000 because the city features two cultural districts: Rocky Neck and downtown. The application will be LIVE this week, due October, and awarded December.

Listen for #GloucesterMA on the radio! Mass Cultural Council’s WCRB, WBUR, WICN and NEPR spots for Cultural Districts start next week 📻🎙️😊

Last year, the Mass Cultural Council purchased series of 10, 20, and 30 second spots on WCRB, WGBH, WBUR, WICN, and NEPR to promote each of the Massachusetts designated Cultural Districts,” Meri Jenkins explained. They’re doing it again for 2018. Beginning next week, you may hear radio commercials wishing Gloucester and its two cultural districts great success in 2018 (Downtown Cultural District and Rocky Neck cultural district). Email Mayor Romeo Theken’s arts hotline: sefatia4arts@gloucester-ma.gov (subject line MCC radio spots) with the day and time you heard “Gloucester”, where you were and what you think.

Some of the radio spots are scheduled during the following shows

  • Two (2) WFCR News spots rotating thru Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Marketplace – Monday thru Saturday
  • Two (2) WFCR Run of Station spots rotating thru Classical Music, Jazz and Entertainment programing – Monday thru Saturday
  • TWO (2) WNNZ News Network spots rotating Monday thru Saturday
  • TWO (2) WNNZ News Network BONUS spots rotating Monday thru Sunday

The MCC is also expanding outreach thru increased collaboration with the state’s office of Travel and Tourism. See Massachusetts excellent and popular travel site. 

The Gloucester page has not been edited, yet–it’s just a placeholder. We can edit and businesses can add in. The calendar is an exciting opportunity integrated with the interactive cultural districts map and information. I’m hoping the GMG and chamber calendars can just be synced up.

MCC new landing page on MOTT ma vacation

So this is March- Rocky Neck Now 2018 Annual Members Show & don’t forget Gallery 53 deadline

Photos and press releases shared with Good Morning Gloucester: two spring update releases from Patricia Conant with Rocky Neck news– save the date, deadlines, exhibition info, panels, celebrations and a poetry reading.

ROCKY NECK NOW 2018: The Annual Spring Members’ Show
Exhibition Dates: March 1 –April 8, 12-4 PM
Cultural Center at Rocky Neck 6 Wonson Street, Gloucester, MA
Galleries open: Thursday through Sunday, Noon-4 PM
Opening Reception:  Saturday, March 3, 2-5 PM
Panel Discussion with Artists: Sunday, March 11, 2018, at 2 PM.
(DEADLINE Gallery 53 application March 15, 2018 see below)
Poetry Reading: “Rising Spring” Three poets present, Sunday, March 25 at 3 PM.

The Rocky Neck Art Colony (RNAC) opens the season with the highly anticipated “Rocky Neck Now 2018: The Annual Spring Members’ Show” running for six weeks from Thursday, March 1 through Sunday, April 8, 2018.  The exhibition features recent work by more than 30 of the Rocky Neck Art Colony’s  artists.  This show, in both the upper and lower galleries of the Cultural Center includes a wide range of artistic interpretations with abstract, representational and expressive styles in all media, 2D and 3D. The galleries are open each Thursday through Sunday Noon-4 PM. The public is invited to meet the artists at the opening reception on Saturday, March 3, 2-5 PM. All are invited to receptions and events with refreshments, admission and nearby parking free of charge.

The Artists

Some of the more than 30 RNAC well-known, participating artists include Nubar Alexanian, Kathleen Gerdon Archer, John Bassett, Katherine Coakley, Mary Cole, Yhanna Coffin, Terry Del Percio, Robert Diebboll, Judith Goetemann, , Leslie Heffron, Richard Honan, Jane Keddy, Randolph Kelts, Otto Laske, Brenda Malloy, Ruth Mordecai, Ed Mowrey, Tom Nihan, Regina Piantedosi, David Piemonte, Mary Rhinelander, Martha Swanson, Marilyn Swift, Bonnie Twomey, Connie Vallis, Rokhaya Waring and Karen Watson among many others.

Special Events

The Art Colony presents two special events during the exhibition.  On Sunday, March 11, 2018, at 2 PM, the public is invited to a panel discussion featuring selected participating “Rocky Neck Now” artists.  Audience participation will be encouraged, and the discussion will cover a wide range of topics, many based on questions asked by audience members.

For a lovely afternoon of inspiring words and art, be sure to attend “Rising Spring,” a program of poetry readings by Nadine Boughton, Mary Cole, and Patrick Doud on Sunday, March 25 at 3 PM.

A Celebration

As this is the first exhibition since major renovations to the main gallery of the Cultural Center, “Rocky Neck Now 2018” serves as a grand re-opening celebration. Cultural Center renovations were funded in part by a generous grant from the Mass Cultural Council, a state agency that promotes excellence, inclusion, education, and diversity in the arts. The work that included the installation of updated lighting, the application of acoustic materials to improve sound quality in the hall, the addition of hangers to allow ceiling mounted installations are in place as are painting and repairs. More information on all Cultural Center events is available by visiting the website at www.rockyneckartcolony.org, by email at info@rockyneckartcolony.org or telephone 978 515-7004.

The Cultural Center at Rocky Neck, 6 Wonson Street, Gloucester, MA 01930, the official Welcome Center for Rocky Neck and home of the Art Colony, hosts exhibitions, workshops, meetings, lectures and cultural events of all kinds. The Center accommodates up to 100 people. For information about renting the facility for a meeting, theatrical or musical performance, a small wedding or anniversary, both private or for the community, please contact: director@rockyneckartcolony.org

Rocky Neck Art Colony Seeks New Members for Gallery 53 on Rocky Neck Application Deadline: March 15, 2018

The Rocky Neck Art Colony (RNAC) is seeking new members for Gallery 53 and is currently accepting membership applications for this cooperatively run gallery. Gallery 53 is ideally situated between the Rudder and Studio Restaurants on Rocky Neck Avenue in Gloucester, MA. Applications must be received by March 15, 2018. For more information see http://rockyneckartcolony.org/gallery-53-on-rocky-neck/ or call the RNAC office at 978-515-7004.

Massachusetts Cultural Council Power of Connection Tour in #GloucesterMA | Cultural Center @RockyNeckArt

The Cultural Center at Rocky Neck, 6 Wonson Street, Gloucester, MA, was one of the few cultural districts selected as a host venue for the MCC Power of Connection Tour launch. Today’s gathering includes city and state officials: Mayor Romeo Theken, Senator Bruce Tarr & Representative Ann-Margaret Ferrante of Gloucester.

Guests are just arriving for the welcome reception. I will post all we glean from MCC new grants and updates. Gloucester has two districts: Rocky Neck and downtown Harbortown. On the walls at Rocky Neck center–the holiday group show is installed upstairs and a John Nesta tribute downstairs. I am looking forward to the upcoming poetry night featuring Jay Featherstone, Suzanne and others.

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MCC Cultural Districts convened at IDEO Cambridge & coming to Gloucester!

httpsdocs.google.comdocumentd17jdHbhxrV6xCqagHss5iOUjyBoB6BUQfbfmGAubPpvMeditusp=sharing x
Click here to Read the Gloucester downtown cultural district November 2017 save the date and cultural district reports from the MCC

SAVE THE DATE

November 8, 2017  North of Boston Annual Meeting and Awards Ceremony will honor
Mayor Romeo Theken and Jeanne Hennessey, Beauport Hotel

November 11, 2017 2-6PM – Gloucester Meeting House Foundation Preservation & Architectural  Sustainability SYMPOSIUM  TownGreen|2025  Gloucester Unitarian Universalist Church 

Monday, Nov. 27, 10 am, JOIN MASSACHUSETTS CULTURAL COUNCIL POWER OF CONNECTION TOUR at Gloucester’s Rocky Neck Art Colony, 6 Wonson Street, Gloucester, MA 01930, with Mayor Romeo Theken, Senator Bruce Tarr & Representative Ann-Margaret Ferrante of Gloucester.  RSVP here.

November 29, 2017 Dogtown Public Presentation and Meeting- archaeological survey and pursuit of National Historic district designation  

December 17, 2017 Cape Ann Cinema & Stage Oscar winner Chris Cooper will personally host a screening of the role that won him the Gold for Best Supporting Actor…horticulturist John Laroche in Spike Jonze’s superb, darkly comic 2002 drama, “Adaptation.” The evening benefits The Jesse Cooper Foundation.

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Anita Walker, director of the Massachusetts Cultural Council, welcome address October 2017 MCC cultural district convening held at IDEO Cambridge headquarters.
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Congrtulations to the original cultural districts– all renewed designation

Message from Anita Walker the Power of Culture- MCC has a new logo for its 50th year

Anita Walker message fall 2017

 

 

MA senate votes on creative economy master plan

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One of Senator Tarr’s bills, the 4 cultural districts and a failed vote were reported by Kate Lannan in today’s Gloucester Daily Times.

The bill

SECTION 1. Notwithstanding any special or general law to the contrary, the secretary of housing and economic affairs, in consultation with the executive director of the Massachusetts cultural council, the executive director of travel and tourism and the secretary of labor and workforce development, shall develop and maintain a master plan for the development and advancement of the creative economy throughout the commonwealth, provided that such plan shall be reviewed and updated in increments of not less than three years.

For the purposes of this section the creative economy shall include but not be limited to elements that encompass the visual and performing arts, cultural interpretation and presentation, tourism and affiliated economic activities related to and dependent thereon.

In developing and maintaining said plan the secretary shall seek to ensure inclusion of necessary components to support and strengthen the creative economy of each region and sub region of the commonwealth, as their special circumstances may escalate, and shall seek to maximize and capture to the fullest extent possible the opportunities for job creation, workforce training and skills development, in such regions and sub regions.

The process of developing and maintaining such plan shall include, but not be limited to, at least one public hearing in each geographic region identified in the plan, provided further that the plan shall recognize and support cultural districts as critical resources in advancing its goals.

https://malegislature.gov/

S.202 SD.1688 By Mr. Tarr, a petition (accompanied by bill, Senate, No. 202) of Bruce E. Tarr for legislation to create a creative economy master plan. Economic Development and Emerging Technologies.

creative economy stats: of the 226,000 North Shore jobs, how many do you think are arts and culture related?    Tourism related doubles that count

Gloucester Downtown Harbortown Cultural District

Gloucester Rocky Neck Cultural District

Rockport Cultural District

Essex Cultural District

Gloucester downtown harbortown cultural district: Partner Updates | March 2017

Read dishy brief updates from downtown, marketing opportunities from MOTT, and trending topics from across the state. The arts scene in Gloucester and Cape Ann has so much going on and sets such a high, high bar for the state. We needed a calendar and GMG did it! Reminder: If organizations want to be featured on the essential GMG calendar and weekly arts round-up, they should email their listings to James Eves! Triple check the calendar before planning any major scheduling dates. 

Gloucester downtown harbortown cultural district march 2017 updates CR

What’s New March 2017 updates link (if embed doesn’t show)

*= Founding Partner    Yellow =  NEW partner March 2017      Bold blue= updates

More save the dates — creative placemaking, smart cities, sustainable cities, cultural districts, smartgrowth

Beverly hosts a regional Massachusetts Cultural Council cultural districts gathering at The Cabot

The City of Beverly and The Cabot hosted a Massachusetts Cultural Council north shore cultural district meeting today. The theater was getting ready for tonight’s sold out Celtic Sojourn with Brian O’Donovan and they still made time for the districts. Mayor Cahill welcomed the group. The current exhibition installed in this sunny space is a solo show by fine artist and commercial sign maker, Andrew Bablo.

Cultural districts and organizations coming together for this meeting included the following: Beverly Main Streets and the BAD district; Montserrat College of Art; Chris Sicuranza, Gloucester’s Director of Communications & Constituent Services,Office of the Mayor; the two Gloucester cultural districts, and local cultural council; Rockport’s cultural district; Essex Historic Society and Shipbuilding Museum  and district; Historic New England and Cogswell’s Grant; Lynn’s district; Haverhill’s; and Concord’s. Concord will be hosting their regional meeting tomorrow. Currently there are 35 cultural districts across Massachusetts with 40 possible by the end of June. Salem may come on next year.  Interactive MA cultural districts as Google map.

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OUR HOSTS photo L-R: Kevin Harutunian, Chief of Staff, Beverly; Aaron Clausen, City Planning Director, Community Development, City of Beverly; Gin Wallace, Director Beverly Main Streets; Meri Jenkins, MCC; J Casey Soward, The Cabot, Beverly; Steve Immerman Montserrat College of Art, Beverly; Annie Houston, MCC

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google map of MA Cultural Districts From Cat Ryan

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Hi Joey,

Here’s a google map of the towns in Massachusetts with cultural districts designated by the Massachusetts Cultural Council as of 2014. Besides Gloucester, Barnstable now has 2 cultural districts.

If you’re traveling in MA–or anywhere across the US that has cultural district designations–they’re a good place to investigate ahead of time for planning.

The summer Butterflies exhibit at the Berkshire Museum that includes Kim Smith’s work is nearby 5 western ma cultural districts and ideally situated for visiting Tanglewood or whatever Berkshire art and trail you envision.

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People start pollution people can stop it

Cat Ryan submits-

Hey Joey,

Whether you fall on the side of these commercials are a prime example of greenwashing, this is SUCH a landmark PSA, let’s make another parody, or hey wait a minute Iron Eyes Cody was Sicilian?—people of a certain age remember seeing the Ad Council’s Keep America Beautiful ads. Lassie and Lady Bird Johnson were helping the campaign, too. Wildflowers and THE dog.

I was a kid. This tv spot was memorable and effective.

And this one. William Conrad voice over.

The Rozalia Project lecture at Maritime Gloucester for the kick-off event of the first Harbor community clean up reminded me of these ads. In a positive way! Highways look better. Now on to our shoreline and ocean floors. There was a photo of a crab trying to maneuver past sunglasses and various beverage cans in Newport that specifically brought those commercials back to me. Oh, and check your toothpaste and skin polishers – no poly anything ingredient. Trust me.

The next day following that lecture, clean up happened all around the harbor, right at the water’s edge, different neighborhoods, and even by boat. Kudos to Maritime Gloucester for organizing and Harbortown and Rocky Neck Cultural Districts and other partners and volunteers.

At Maritime Gloucester, the Rozalia Project robot, Hector the Collector, went to work while Audie Tarr and others set out in boats for some surface retrieval. Gig Rowers in action, too.

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Imagine

imagine gallery

Brenda Malloy’s Imagine Gallery on Rocky Neck has a fresh, new look this season.  While you’ll still find the cool, funky jewelry, bags and clothing she carries, she is focusing her gallery more on the great new work she created this winter.  Don’t miss a chance to experience the ever positive, bubbly Brenda and her innovative work.

E.J. Lefavour