Thank you for reading the following group statement. Action steps for New Bedford residents are found after the listed names.
The City of New Bedford stands on the verge of an unprecedented opportunity to revitalize seven crucial sectors that have been struck hard by the pandemic. The city is eligible to receive over $80M in funds provided by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), once the City Council votes to accept this federal funding. As leaders and stakeholders in New Bedford’s arts and culture, tourism, hospitality, and business community, we ask our City Councilors to vote to receive the ARPA funds as proposed by the city administration. We also urge city residents to contact City Council members to ask that they vote to accept the funds.
Based on input received through several community meetings with residents and stakeholders, the city administration plan addresses seven important areas, ranging from neighborhoods and housing to water and sewer infrastructure to arts, culture, hospitality, and tourism. The $18M portion of the funds that will bolster the arts, culture, tourism, and hospitality sectors are central to the city’s economic development and recovery efforts. These capital investments will benefit the city for years to come. Moreover, the types of projects anticipated generate significant support from private philanthropy, foundations, state funds, and state and federal tax credit programs. That means that the $18M the city invests will produce tens of millions of additional, outside dollars that will all benefit the city. It is this kind of leveraging that brings the highest level of investment and benefit to the city, and it can only happen when the arts and culture community, business leaders, and government support each other.
A strong creative sector is also an economic engine for the whole city. The projects that can be funded through ARPA are located in every part of New Bedford; our organizations and businesses are located in the South End, West End, North End, and Downtown. These arts and culture organizations throughout the city infuse more than $29M annually into New Bedford. Our sectors employ hundreds of citizens, hire countless contractors, and attract hundreds of thousands of people to the city each year. Americans for the Arts tells us that for every $1 spent on arts and culture, $5 goes into local and regional economy, a powerful return on investment. Moreover, the quality of life fostered by a strong arts and culture sector is essential to attracting businesses that are considering locating in New Bedford, which is how more jobs are created for everyone.
In addition to all the economic benefits outlined above, the ARPA plan will help us grow and improve what we do best: contribute to a vibrant and enriching community that all city residents can enjoy. Our neighborhoods come alive whenever a concert, festival, exhibit, or other exciting program takes place. Our wide-ranging educational programs serve New Bedford children and support the work of New Bedford teachers. We are devoted to celebrating the city’s creativity and spirit, rich history, and diverse heritage. We not only gather people together; we strengthen their bond to the city we all love.
This is a critical and exciting moment for New Bedford. An infusion of $80M to the city will directly impact the city’s economic and cultural vitality now and for generations to come. The time is now to invest in our future. Please call or email City Councilors today and urge them to vote to accept the ARPA funds as proposed by city administration.
Lisa Maya Knauer
3rd EyE Youth Empowerment
Candace Lee Heald
President of the Board of Directors, Buttonwood Park Zoological Society
Darlene A Spencer
Board President, Cape Verdean Association in New Bedford
Dean, College of Visual and Performing Arts
University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth
President, Downtown New Bedford Inc
Business Owner, Calico
Owner, Kilburn Mill
Owner, Kilburn Mill
Executive Director, Massachusetts Design Art & Technology Institute, DATMA
Board Chair, New Bedford Art Museum/Artworks!
Interim Executive Director, New Bedford Art Museum/Artworks!
Executive Producer, New Bedford Festival Theatre
Founder/Executive Director, New Bedford Festival Theatre
Executive Director, New Bedford Fishing Heritage Center
President, New Bedford Historical Society
Member, Your Theatre/Steeple Playhouse
New Bedford Port Society: Seamen’s Bethel and Mariner’s Home
David M. Prentiss
President and CEO, New Bedford Symphony Orchestra
President & CEO, New Bedford Whaling Museum
Co-CEO of One SouthCoast Chamber &
Executive Director of Southeastern Massachusetts Visitors Bureau
Dawn E. Salerno
Executive Director, Rotch-Jones-Duff House & Garden Museum
Sarah W. Rose
Director of Engagement, SouthCoast Community Foundation
Executive Director, Waterfront Historic Area League
President, Your Theatre/Steeple Playhouse
Executive Director, Zeiterion Performing Arts Center
If you would like to do your own research, the following links and recorded City Council meeting are publicly available.
City Council Finance Committee Dec 13 2021 (start recording approx. min 40 into the meeting) where several Councilors expressed skepticism that the $18 million for our sector would have a positive impact on our community
Standard Times coverage of the Mayor’s Covid relief plans (December 2021)
New Bedford Light’s coverage on how NB may spend the funds (July 2021)
If you would like to help by taking action, below is a letter for you to copy and paste in an email to the New Bedford Counselors. You can find City Councilor email addresses here: https://www.newbedford-ma.
I am a New Bedford constituent and I urge you to vote to accept the ARPA funds as proposed by the City administration. I believe approving the entirety of the $18M proposed for arts, culture, tourism and hospitality – the sectors hardest hit by the pandemic – would be a great benefit to our city.
The creative economy and cultural tourism are central drivers to the City’s economic development and recovery efforts. New Bedford arts and culture organizations infuse the city with more than $29M annually – and for every $1 spent on arts and culture, $5 goes into local and regional economy. These sectors employ hundreds of citizens, hire countless contractors, and attract hundreds of thousands of people to the city each year.
Moreover, the types of projects anticipated will generate support from private donors, foundations, and state and federal funds. That means that the $18M the city invests will produce tens of millions of additional dollars, leveraging the highest level of investment and benefit to the city and its residents. This will only happen when the arts and culture community, business leaders, and government support each other.
What a powerful return on investment!
Please listen to New Bedford residents who spoke through the surveys, hearings and meetings that informed the proposal. We ask you to vote to accept the ARPA funds as proposed.
[Enter name here]