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UMass President awards $250,000 to faculty for creative economy initiatives

BOSTON - President Robert L. Caret today announced more than $250,000 in grants from the President's Creative Economy Initiatives Fund 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 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.

``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.''

Now in its sixth year, the fund has provided 54 awards totaling $1.6 million. It has supported the preservation of the W.E.B Du Bois boyhood home in Great Barrington and established the Lowell Youth Orchestra and a permanent Jack Kerouac education and tourism site in Lowell. It has also generated major studies of the film and electronic gaming industries in Massachusetts, sponsored community dance and theatre performances, and supported the creation of a women artisans' cooperative in New Bedford.

This year the Creative Economy Fund will dispense $259,300 in grants to the following initiatives and faculty members:

Professor Paul Atwood - UMass Boston - Tamziq, an Arabic word, translates to "scattered and torn" and suggests the condition of the communities impacted by the war in Iraq as well as the tensions and stresses in the larger Middle East. The Tamziq Project seeks to bridge cultural divides and misperceptions through artistic expression - in painting, sculpture, literature, music and theater. Chief among the public events is an art exhibit scheduled for October 20 through November 30, 2012, at the Art@12 Gallery in Boston's Fort Point Arts District. A film series and a speaker series will supplement the art exhibit. Other participating groups will include the Center for Arabic Culture, the New England Institute of Art, the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard, and the Fort Point Artists Community. Amount awarded: $28,500.

Dean Philip DiSalvio - UMass Boston - During Chinese Culture Month, May 2013, UMB's University College will provide workshops in Chinese Calligraphy, Traditional Painting, Traditional Chinese Folk Dance, and the history of Boston's Chinatown for university students, Chinese language teachers, high school teachers and others. These events will culminate on Chinese Culture Day, June 1, 2013, when University College will partner with two schools in Boston's Chinatown to produce a day of performance, presentation, and cultural understanding. The programming will be abundant, with two auditorium stages on which numerous public, charter, and independent/heritage school groups will perform. Amount awarded: $16,500.

Professor Susan Gallagher - UMass Lowell - Drawing from Henry David Thoreau's writings on environmental history, politics, and philosophy, the Walden Climate-Change Collaborative (WCCC) will create a freely accessible digital platform that will provide location-based web pages on climate change that celebrate Massachusetts' natural beauty and its central place in environmental thought. These multimedia modules will be suitable for integration into an array of college courses and public enrichment programs at parks, nature centers, historic sites, museums, and other popular destinations. By producing informative pages on beloved landscapes, the Walden Climate Change Collaborative will advance public understanding of the ways in which climate change is affecting conservation areas, historic ecosystems, regional communities, and traditional modes of living across Massachusetts. Amount awarded: $28,000.

Professor Michael Griffin and Matthew Roy - UMass Dartmouth - UMD'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 UMD 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. Amount awarded: $29,100.

Ryan Harb - UMass Amherst; Professor Tara Rajaniemi - UMass Dartmouth - 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. UMA and UMD 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.                                Amount awarded: $45,000

Professor David Lustick - UMass Lowell - Creative Development of the Cool Science Learning Campaign. Informal science learning is any form of science learning that happens outside a formal K-16 setting. CSLC will use an Out of Home Multi-Media (OHMM) platform to create a learning opportunity for the communities along two bus lines within the Lowell Regional Transit Authority (LRTA). OHMM is defined as any type of communication that reaches consumers while they are out of the home, such as billboards, bus shelters, and transit advertising. The LRTA and Anastas Advertising Associates are donating over $13,000 in transit advertising space and discounts for this project. CSLC's aim is to engage K-16 students with climate change science and solicit their artwork (vetted by Prof. Robert Chen of UMB for scientific legitimacy) for a public education science campaign on bus routes within the LRTA. Amount awarded: $32,500.

Professor Nicholas McBride - UMass Amherst - This project will bring students from Commerce High School in Springfield, MA to the UMA Campus to learn reporting and writing from UMA journalism faculty. Prof. McBride, the PI, has worked in Commerce High School for the past eight semesters on team-based collaborative journalism projects and has developed exceptional relations with the Commerce High School principal, faculty, and staff. Among other goals of the project is to have Commerce HS students see journalism as a possible profession and career. Selected Commerce High School students who complete the program will also participate in a field trip to the celebrated Newseum in Washington, D.C. Amount awarded: $25,000.

Professors Thomas Stubblefield and Pamela Karimi - UMass Dartmouth - 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. Amount awarded: $26,200.

Professor John Wooding - UMass Lowell - Reinventing the City: Assessing Economic and Cultural Development Strategies in Lowell. To stem the loss of jobs and retain a vibrant urban life, cities such as Lowell have sought to replace older forms of industrial production and to take on new identities. Especially since 2000, with the re-launch of the city's cultural affairs office, Lowell has made a highly visible commitment to artistic, cultural, and heritage development. Establishing the direct effects and benefits of creative economy initiatives is, therefore, crucial knowledge for local leaders, policymakers, and legislators as they seek new ways to stimulate economic development and sustainability. To that end this project will document how policies to promote the arts and culture were developed in Lowell, what institutions and actors played key roles in the adoption of this revitalization strategy, and how the dynamic of critical initiatives played out in the city's community and governance. In particular, the investigation will focus on the rationale and success of promoting the city as a place for artists (traditional, contemporary, ethnic, etc.) and other "creative" enterprises. Amount awarded: $28,500.

Contact: Ann Scales, 617-287-4084; Robert P. Connolly, 617-287-7073


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Robert P. Connolly
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Ann Scales
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617.287.4084 (office)

JoAnn Conley
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Jan Brogen
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