The Essex County Community Foundation held its second annual Essex County Arts & Culture Summit in Beverly on Sept. 27. The forum, held at the Cabot theater and Dane Street Church in Beverly, was part of its Creative County Initiative, which has funded 12 cultural projects intended to build community on the North Shore since last year’s summit. (NOTE: I was at the summit because I’ve been commissioned by the Essex County Community Foundation to help document/promote cultural projects from its Creative County Initiative, which is supported by Boston’s Barr Foundation.)
The news out of the event was Peabody Mayor Tom Bettencourt announcement that “Peabody is going to have a permanent children’s museum in our downtown.” His support was based on the results of Curious City, a pop-up children’s museum operated in the city this spring and summer by the Peabody Cultural Collaborative with grant funding from the Essex County Community Foundation.
The talks throughout the day were focused on ways to use the arts in creative placemaking. Here are some of the takeaways:
• Kara Elliott-Ortega, director of arts & culture for the city of Boston: “Boston is a majority-minority city but our narrative is Paul Revere and sports. And people really feel that acutely. They feel alienated by that.”
• David Howse, executive director of ArtsEmerson: “It wasn’t enough to talk about diversity and inclusion in front of the curtain if we hadn’t tackled the issues with our own team.”
• Jason Schupbach, director of Arizona State University’s Design School: “Beauty is a justice issue.”
• Kara Elliott-Ortega: Smaller arts organizations are “more likely focused on equity and social justice.”
• Schupbach: “You have to connect out of the arts world to do this work.”
• Tom Borrup, principal of Creative Community Builders, Minneapolis: Where to seek connections with communities? Places with “food, music and children.”
• Nate Robertson, community and economic development planner for the Merrimack Valley Planning Commission: Go out and participate in community events, don’t just invite people to come to your planning forums.
• John Andrews, founder of Creative Collective, Salem: “The only way we’re going to offset gentrification is by supporting local.”
• Elliott-Ortega: “We’re fighting a lot of risk aversion in the bureaucracy.”
• Elliott-Ortega: On developing live and work spaces for artists: “Artists really want a building full of artists.”
• Elliott-Ortega: “When we started this work, it felt like there was a space crisis. … And it still feels like there is a space crisis.”
• New Murals On Beverly’s Cabot Theatre Aim To Illuminate All The Creativity Going On Inside
• Photos: Opening Night Of Crossing Water Festival In Salem And Beverly
• A Century After They Built The Last Known Essex Clamming Skiff, Constructing A New One
• A Laser Show To Celebrate Local Immigrants’ Stories … And Confront Stigma
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