University of Massachusetts Dartmouth professors have received more than $100,000 to fund three projects to spur the creative economy on the SouthCoast.
The grants are part of more than $250,000 invested by the President's Creative Economy Initiatives Fund, under the supervision of UMass President Robert L. Caret, to support nine projects by UMass faculty members that promote the arts and culture in Massachusetts. The initiatives range from creating a digital platform that celebrates the Commonwealth's natural beauty and its central place in environmental thought to developing a business plan to boost the fledging New Bedford Museum of Glass.
"The creative economy makes life richer in the Commonwealth, affecting the quality of our lives, culturally and socially," President Caret said. "This fund allows the University to build partnerships with nonprofits and creative industries that spur economic development in the realm of the arts and culture, which are critically important to having a vibrant state.''
"I thank President Caret for his focus on creative ways UMass faculty members are driving the creative economy," added UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Divina Grossman, who officially began work on Monday. "I also want to congratulate our faculty members for their excellent work on these initiatives. Their success demonstrates the commitment of our campus to the communities we serve."
Working with the New Bedford Museum of Glass
Professor Michael Griffin and Dr. Matthew Roy
Amount awarded: $29,100.
UMass Dartmouth's Center for Civic Engagement and Charlton College of Business will strengthen and build the New Bedford Museum of Glass, a fledging local cultural institution with an impressive collection, internationally recognized curator, and historical connection to the city's glass industry (the Mt. Washington and Pairpoint glass companies which were major New Bedford-and American-enterprises in the 19th century.) This initiative will bring energy, talent and insight from UMass Dartmouth business students and faculty to bear on such challenges as development of a business plan, effective execution of museum marketing, outreach activities, and efficient and effective operations. The project will help the Museum increase its foot traffic, grow its membership, research and apply for grants, raise public awareness, and benchmark its business practices.
Growing greener and better gardens
Dr. Susan Jennings and Professor Tara Rajaniemi
Amount awarded: $45,000
Permaculture stresses that by utilizing natural principles for soil remediation and enrichment, low-risk and high-yield plant choices, and non-toxic pest control, even patches of land that seem less than ideal for supporting food and fuel-producing plants can be transformed into productive resources. UMass Amherst and UMass Dartmouth will support local permaculture by providing educational workshops, hosting visiting groups, and creating demonstration permaculture gardens within their local communities and will help community groups establish their own working gardens with soil sample and plant selection services, plus follow-up advice on mature growth and harvesting strategies. Also taking part is UMass Amherst Professor Ryan Harb.
Economic revitalization, the creative economy, and architecture in New Bedford
Amount awarded: $26,200.
Professors Thomas Stubblefield and Pamela Karimi
As a once thriving industrial center which has struggled to regain its position in the 21st Century economy, New Bedford is an example of what the independent think tank MassINC has termed a "Gateway City". Offering inexpensive commercial real estate, an available workforce and an existing infrastructure, the gateway cities of Massachusetts provide a unique potential for growth. Through a three-pronged approach, which integrates lectures, a public art exhibition, and a summary catalog, the project will illuminate the role of the creative sector in both the past glory and the future economic revitalization of Massachusetts gateway cities such as New Bedford.
More about the President's Creative Economy Initiatives Fund
The fund, created in 2007, provides seed funding for faculty research and scholarship activities in the arts, humanities, and social sciences - and underscores the University's commitment to enhancing the social and cultural fabric of Massachusetts.
Now in its sixth year, the fund has provided 54 awards totaling $1.6 million.
This year the Creative Economy Fund will dispense $259,300 in grants.