Eight New Bedford arts and culture organizations have a resolution for 2022: use creativity to create a healthier and more connected community. Already, members of the new Creating Connection cohort have held virtual workshops to collaborate and take action.
“I think that we speak a language through the arts,” says Peter Walker of 3rd EyE Youth Empowerment, and member of the group. “All voices are welcome. We’re not just creating a space for like minds… because we have to find a way to get back to that healthy form of public discourse.”
Developed by Arts Midwest and Metropolitan Group, Creating Connection is a research and messaging initiative that helps creative organizations connect their efforts to existing community values. The program’s broad goals are to make creative expression, arts, and culture a recognized, valued, and expected part of everyday life. Late in 2021, New Bedford was selected as a host city for the program’s first place-based pilot in the state.
“New Bedford individuals and organizations have built a strong practice of constructive interaction and partnering to get creative things done,” remarks David Prentiss of the New Bedford Symphony Orchestra, and another member of the cohort. “I also think we have a learning culture – learning from each other and from our own experiences.”
Organizations went through a competitive process to be among the eight finalists chosen to take part in the project. The eight accomplished nonprofit organizations representing New Bedford in the Creating Connection cohort are 3rd EyE Youth Empowerment, Buy Black New Bedford, New Bedford Art Museum/ArtWorks!, DATMA (Massachusetts Design Art & Technology Institute), New Bedford Historical Society, New Bedford Symphony Orchestra, Cape Verdean Association in New Bedford, and the Co-Creative Center.
Dena Haden of the Co-Creative Center believes Creating Connection within the group and with the city at large will provide the opportunity for New Bedford to move forward “allowing art to be a common thread and resource for our area and community.”
“The inspiring work of New Bedford artists and cultural trailblazers is being recognized by the Barr Foundation, and now Arts Midwest, for its ability to positively impact and transform the city,” says Margo Saulnier, strategist for New Bedford Creative, the lead partner for the project.
The Barr Foundation is funding Creating Connection as part of its investment in the city’s arts and culture sector. New Bedford Creative is funded by the city’s Arts, Culture and Tourism Fund, with additional support from Bristol County Savings Bank, Mass Cultural Council, and MassDevelopment’s “TDI Creative Cities Initiative.” It is housed at the New Bedford Economic Development Council (NBEDC).
“I think in New Bedford the arts are tangible and we have created a lot of human connection that overall creates a state of wellbeing,” said Lindsay Miś of DATMA. “For me, it reminds me of how you would interact with a family – and I always think of New Bedford as one big family – and I feel like the arts are our vehicle for human connection.”
Indeed, it is why Arts Midwest brought Creating Connection to New Bedford. They believe this city can use its creativity to create a healthier and more connected community.
New Bedford Creative will be sharing the cohort’s journey throughout the year. Follow NewBedfordCreative.org for all arts and culture updates.
Published by New Bedford Guide 02/02/2022