State of Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development/CT Office of the Arts

Funding Received: 2013
Multiple, CT
Funding Period: 1 year and 5 months
August 1, 2013

From painting to pies, everyone lends a hand in CreateHereNow Torrington! Local artist Suzi Galloway baked homemade pies for the launch event of Morrison's Hardware Store

Five cities are now activated in the CreateHereNow (CHN) Alliance. They are Bridgeport, Torrington, New Britain, Milford and Hartford.

Since CHN started the Morrison’s Hardware Store hub in Torrington, CT, artists from around the surrounding area and communities are negotiating a lease with the owner, who is now interested in buying more buildings since his vacant, 100 year old hardware store will now be inhabited by a growing, focused arts community. That community currently includes dance, theatre, textiles, photography and entrepreneurial incubation, as well as a pioneering access programming for serious artists with diversities.

CHN reviewed and evaluated new projects in Waterbury, Brookfield, South Windsor, Putnam and Winsted. Each of these places is now working on a unique placemaking project. CHN will use its statewide network to help realize these projects, supplying proven techniques, expertise and, where necessary, fundraising assistance.

In Brookfield, CHN is working with artist activists to save a generations old craft school known nationally for teaching lost arts such as woodturning and blacksmithing. The community is rising to the occasion to protect its history and re-tool the center through community engagement. CHN will help with innovative fundraising strategies leveraged from unusual resources.

South Windsor, a developing community known for agriculture and art, lacks any visual indicators of where the town starts and stops. CHN is helping with iconic, artist designed signage and the arts activation of a 100-year-old farm that will be repurposed into an agricultural and arts learning center and cycling destination.

Waterbury wants to go green this holiday season with a makers market at its City Hall to bring citizens to see one of its most intriguing assets, its historic, Georgian Revival interior. This community gathering will serve to launch Night of the Welder, a festival of metal workers who will connect to the Brass City’s roots, providing new inspiration and the founding of an annual event in an underutilized, industrial space.

Winsted, home of the thriving Whiting Mills and an existing, vibrant arts community seeks to connect these artists to the CHN network and to utilize additional space for an International Artist Residency program.

Recent Wins
-- Ownership/Sustainability-The re-opening of the community icon Morrison’s Hardware in Torrington brought the town and the region where it resides together to address other vacant properties. The Local Arts Agency is engaged and has expressed interest in ownership of a permanent storefront program.

-- CHN is connecting talent to a statewide network this fall with State of Makers, a showcase in Hartford of handmade goods for the holiday season emphasizing buy local and our state’s Connecticut Still Revolutionary theme.

-- Hartford’s Envisionfest will feature CreateHereNow artists from participating communities and help expand their market opportunities, being followed closely by our holiday initiative, State of Makers.

-- Support- CHN is giving local businesses a chance to participate in placemaking through a grass roots funding campaign that connects and promotes their businesses, such as our “Drum up some Business” campaign featuring recycled olive oil drums converted into artist painted planters. These planters will feature each business’s logo and serve to beautify and “green up” the streetscape while giving businesses and artists a stake in the creative evolution of their community.

-- Local professionals, passing by Morrison’s Hardware (not to be confused with Morrison’s Hotel), have stepped up and volunteered to mentor new leaders in marketing practices and business planning.

--In New Britain, CHN partner Mutual Housing Association of Greater Hartford, Inc. was awarded a SHPO planning grant to begin planning for ADA compliant entrance, egress, and restrooms for the historic Anvil Place reactivation. Additional partners in this effort include Connecticut Central State University, the New Britain Museum of American Art and the City of New Britain with the goal of creating a vibrant arts center, community center and marketplace.

-- CHN is now allied with the fledgling Veteran’s Art Foundation to further the inclusion of our veteran population in all our creative placemaking activities.

Grassroots Regionalism/Creative Activists
CreateHereNow connects regional, creative placemaking activist’s efforts by harnessing the organic need to collaborate that is bubbling up everywhere, but not under some artificially designated, umbrella organization.

Artists, innovators and artisans are realizing that cooperation has actually been stymied by top down organizations. These creative activists will “roll up their sleeves” and work twice as hard as salaried bureaucrats to realize their vision for their places. These are the people we need to fund, the ones with a creative vision.

Doreen Breen, legendary Torrington arts activist, put it so well saying that “Artists and artisans are leaders in communities.  They bring a sense of community, collaboration and creativity to the areas where they settle.  The following information is taken from an article by John Maeda titled: "Why Business Leaders Should Act More like Artists" :

-- Artists constantly collaborate.

--  Artists are talented communicators. The whole point of a work of art is to communicate something- a thought, an idea, a feeling, a vision.

--  Artists learn how to learn together. Perhaps the reason why artists collaborate and socialize so well is that they learn in the studio model.

-- Artists often move others to follow them- into neighborhoods, into a new a social movement, or even just a dialogue.  Whether introverts or extroverts, through their art, artists are creative leaders in their boldness to often express a point of view as the naked truth.”