CreateHereNow CT20+ Communities, CT
The past month has seen the creation and successful launch of seven new artist/innovator driven storefront projects in the historic Arcade on Main Street in downtown Bridgeport. This marks the completion of the CreateHereNow Phase One Pilot in Bridgeport. In the past 100 days, since the start of the Brideport Pilot, the following businesses have opened their doors.
• 80:Design- Repurposed furniture
• Marroquin Ruben Weaving- Weaving school
• Paradox Ink- Hand screened clothing design
• Magnacon 7- Community based public art and events production
• Made in Bridgeport- Jewelry design and workshop instructor
• Park City Desktop- Adobe Suite instruction for the local community
• The Revolving Pop-Up Center- Art supplies, clothing design, food samplings
The property managers of the long underutilized storefronts in this historic arcade are now partnering with CreateHereNow on new initiatives, which include public art, theater and radio. Programming will include live music events coordinated with Made in CT food tastings, featuring artisan foods, wines and micro brews presented in partnership with the CT Department of Agriculture.
On June 20th, Connecticut “makers” will join together at the Arcade for an Etsy Craft Party 2013, organized by all of the storefront businesses, offering over 20 workshops with proceeds going to local youth and women’s organizations. Made in Bridgeport has activated Etsy Street Teams from around the state to network and produce the event.
1. The Historic Arcade storefronts increase pedestrian traffic flow and participation in events by more than 80%, reducing the stigma of urban crime and bringing new populations into downtown Bridgeport.
2. Torrington, CT launches a creative co-working space, featuring art exhibitions, guerilla dining, pie socials, toaster oven gourmet competitions, folk music, story telling and community gatherings in a 100 year old, previously vacant hardware store.
3. New Britain formulates a plan by partnering their local university and art museum to reactivate their blighted downtown with an annual, temporary, community based, public art event, the First Annual New Britain SWAP (Strategic Wild Art Placements).
4. The “creative merchants association” emerges from the Bridgeport storefront program to develop cooperative marketing and activation from within.
5. The State Historic Preservation Office and the CT Office of the Arts work together with Bridgeport City officials and artist/innovators to activate an empty historic building.
• Identifying and mining untapped local built and talent resources yields an abundant crop of social innovations, income producing, creative routes to work and community cohesion.
• As a State Initiative, CreateHereNow has illuminated a tremendous hunger for interagency cooperation between previously siloed departments. The participation and creative inputs from our Department of Transportation, State Historic Preservation Office and the Department of Agriculture have led to improvements and expanded CreateHereNow opportunities.
Creative activity alleviates fear of the unknown and provides a platform for change as art projects are used as a bridge for all our populations to unite and reactivate their places.