$500,000 FOR ART’S SAKE: City’s cultural community will share the wealth

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Lynn received a $500,000 grant for investment in arts from MassDevelopment. (Item file photo)

LYNN — A $500,000 grant from MassDevelopment to “build sustainable artistic and cultural infrastructure” will allow the city to continue to invest and develop its burgeoning art scene — and could serve as a major economic driver.

MassDevelopment chose Lynn as one of three “gateway” cities, along with Fitchburg and Springfield, to participate in a two-year program aimed at “building a sustainable artistic and cultural infrastructure within a city, as a mechanism for supporting economic growth,” the organization said in a statement. 

LaCrecia Thomson, the city’s arts and culture planner, said in an interview Tuesday afternoon that the funds will be used to assist the work of a number of different art organizations in the city including Lynn Museum/Lynn Arts, Raw Art Works, and Beyond Walls, among others.

“We have a number of really fantastic organizations here in Lynn, [and] we will work together to help support not only what we’re all doing in our own efforts and organizations, but also support efforts of other people in the community who are doing art space initiatives to enhance life in the city,” Thomson said. 

Lynn was selected to participate in the program because of its status as a graduated transformative development initiative district from work done to revitalize the city’s downtown district, Thomson said. Six cities were eligible for the grant, she said.

Thomson said the grant will allow the city to build upon the work that was done in the downtown district.

“It definitely allows us to continue the work that was done with the very first TDI district in Lynn  … we will be able to continue on that work and do things like broaden what organizations are able to do, to enhance what they’re able to do,” she said. “Things like placemaking and keeping and community engagement and leadership development so that those things can be broadened and presented to the community.”

“This opportunity will also help to enhance what other people are doing and giving them an opportunity to present to the city any ideas that they have for community engagement or programming or leadership development,” Thomson continued. 

Thomson said she believes that the continued expansion of Lynn’s art world can help bolster the city’s economy.

“It’s been shown that art and culture are very important economic drivers in different communities, and being able to help them to do what they do, help organizations to sustain themselves and to build programming to offer to communities — that all has a ripple effect,” she said. “People participate in arts events, activities, and then they do things like they go to restaurants and spend money, or they go shopping in the area.”

“Arts and culture is a really useful, important economic generator,” she continued.

In a statement, Mayor Jared Nicholson said arts and culture have been a key facet of the city’s development over the last decade.

“This partnership features some of the most experienced organizations in the city, unified in their efforts to assist small business recovery and equitable economic development. We are very grateful to MassDevelopment for this investment and the city’s Planning Department for their strong collaboration,” Nicholson said.

The grant was announced by MassDevelopment on April 26, and Thomson said the city is still in the process of figuring out how to distribute the money.

“We are just at the beginning processes of this. It’s a pretty big effort and lots of people [are] involved … we are very much in the beginnings of the planning stages,” Thomson said. “We’ve got this great group of folks who are ready to dig into this work and we will be embarking on it very soon.”

Charlie McKenna can be reached at charlie@itemlive.com.

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