News: Press Releases

July 23, 2013

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

  • The UMass System
Projects include creating a Massachusetts Native American Trail

July 23, 2013: President Robert L. Caret today announced more than $250,000 in grants from the President's Creative Economy Initiatives Fund to support 11 projects by UMass faculty members that promote the arts, culture, and other creative enterprises in Massachusetts. The initiatives include establishing a Massachusetts Native American Trail, producing a series of dramatic staged readings paying tribute to the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, and bringing to life the story of the new Cambodian refugee population in Lowell.

``The Creative Economy Initiatives Fund underscores the University's commitment to enhancing the social and cultural fabric of Massachusetts,'' said President Caret. ``These projects add to the quality of life in the Commonwealth and to its attractiveness as a place to live and work.''

The fund, created in 2007, provides seed funding for faculty research and scholarly activities in the arts, humanities, and social sciences as a way to strengthen and expand the creative and cultural resources of the Commonwealth. In its seven years of existence, the fund has made 65 awards totaling more than $1.8 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 also has supported the creation of a women artisans' cooperative in New Bedford and a workers upholstery coop in Springfield, and sponsored numerous dance and theatre performances in Boston and Amherst.

This year the Creative Economy Fund will dispense $259,900 in grants to the following initiatives and faculty members:

Flavia Montenegro-Menezes - UMass Amherst - Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning, "Participatory Asset Mapping:  Sustainable Planning and Development in Holyoke."   This project will develop a tested and transferable approach to integrating locally unique cultural assets into urban and regional planning.  Beyond the immediate benefits to Holyoke, the broader goal is to demonstrate how cultural asset mapping can enhance the planning process while better integrating community strengths and concerns.   Amount awarded:  $27,000

Jean Forward - UMass Amherst - Anthropology, "Native American Trail in Massachusetts."  Professor Forward intends to work with the Native American tribal communities of Massachusetts to establish a Massachusetts Native American Trail.  Importantly, the project will allow Native communities to present their history, heritage and contemporary culture largely in their own words.  Amount awarded: $24,000

Rajini Srikanth - UMass Boston - Honors Program, "Center for Creative and Social Entrepreneurship." This project plans to select and train teams of UMB honors students who will identify a local or regional organization within the creative industry that is facing specific challenges and then work with that organization to solve its individual problems.  This effort reflects UMB's desire to strengthen its honors program and promises to add to UMass Boston's already substantial record of service to its surrounding community. Amount awarded: $37,000

Paul Atwood - UMass Boston - William Joiner Center for the Study of War and Social Consequences, "Tamzig:  A Multi-Media Arts Project." During the past year, the Tamzig project at UMB has sponsored a film series, presented a well-received art exhibit at the Watertown Arsenal Center for the Arts, and helped produce the play, Waiting for Gilgamesh.  This year's award reflects that success and represents modest additional support to help further develop the drama component within the Tamzig Project while its leaders pursue on-going funding. Amount awarded: $10,000

Askold Melnyczuk - UMass Boston - English, "Instilling Hope in the Homeless through Reading and Writing." This proposal seeks to cultivate a student population among the homeless that has been previously overlooked due to public misconceptions and, in doing so, possibly to change outmoded patterns of public assistance.  An earlier modest pilot program at a different institution has demonstrated that anticipated improvements in self-perception and employment outlook for the target population are indeed feasible. Amount awarded: $10,000

Robert Lublin - UMass Boston - Chair, and Cliff Odle, Lecturer, Performing Arts Dept., "The Emancipated Century:  A Staged Reading Series." This project, which will produce a coordinated series of dramatic staged readings in theatres throughout Boston, will pay tribute to the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and, in doing so, will also grow new theater audiences and bring more resources to the middle segment of Boston's cultural pipeline. Amount awarded: $30,000

Clyde Barrow - UMass Dartmouth - Center for Policy Analysis, "Analysis of the Creative Industry in Somerville, Mass." The City of Somerville has identified the creative industry as an important component of its economic development strategy.  The Center for Policy Analysis at UMassDartmouth will work with the City of Somerville to measure the asset base of its creative industry in terms of employment, wages and tax base for comparison to the City's other major sectors.  By underscoring the financial viability of the creative industry, this project should make supportive planning and financing mechanisms more available to that industry.  Amount awarded: $12,000

Grant O'Rielly, et al, - UMass Dartmouth - Physics, "The Music of the Spheres." This project will use the May 2014 New Bedford Symphony Orchestra's performance of Gustav Holst's The Planets as a linchpin event around which to build a series of activities featuring community outreach and engagement at the intersection of science and the arts.   UMD Departments of Art Education, Music, and Physics will be involved as well as multiple community organizations including the Ocean Explorium, the Astronomical Association of Southern New England, and the New Bedford Symphony.  A particular highlight, to accompany and complement the Symphony Orchestra's Holst performance will be showings of the high definition multi-media presentation:  The Planets-an HG Odyssey, using images from NASA's planetary orbital and fly-by missions as well as computer simulations.  This promises to be a high visibility and memorable series of events for New Bedford. Amount awarded: $33,300

Andrea Klimt - UMass Dartmouth - Sociology, Anthropology, Crime and Justice, "Community Empowerment through Photography." This proposal will bring together students in photography at UMassDartmouth and M. C. Durfee High School in Fall River into teams to create a publicly accessible visual record of the ways of life and diverse neighborhood geographies of one of Massachusetts' most important Gateway Cities.  The project holds considerable promise to foster community pride in Fall River, develop a wider understanding of its diverse culture and history, and bring new insights into its many strengths. The link between UMD and Durfee is also welcome and will constitute a major community service in itself.  Amount awarded: $24,600

Robin Toof - UMass Lowell - Center for Community Research and Engagement, et al, "Best Practices in Board Diversity." This proposal will investigate the dynamics that enable culturally and ethnically diverse boards to be successful, to identify best practices in board diversification and to assess new training programs designed to increase board diversity.  It should prove of great value to groups and organizations throughout the Commonwealth by bringing into the Board process voices and perspectives that may otherwise be neglected or not heard. Amount awarded: $15,000

Pat Fontaine - UMass Lowell - Graduate School of Education, Lowell:  "A City of Refugees, a Community of Citizen." This proposal will support a multifaceted effort to tell the story of the new Cambodian refugee population in Lowell and to highlight the growing importance of Cambodia Town in the economic growth of Lowell as a whole.   The planned collaboration with the Lowell National Historical Park and the Tsongas Industrial History Center should provide valuable contributions and updating to those enterprises.   The proposed "healing garden" will be a welcome addition to Lowell's public spaces. Amount awarded: $37,000

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