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
January 29, 2014

CreateHereNow continues to build on the momentum begun by our earliest projects, while still regularly shepherding those initiatives to sustainability as we plan for the second phase of activities around the state. The next 6 months will include a focus on young placemakers programming within the Uarts Program (Universal arts), which will launch in March. Uarts is a pilot program in partnership with other access programs to bring to light creative opportunities for populations which may not have access or funds to further their artistic interests or explore artistic routes to work due to economic disadvantage or physical and mental challenges.

CHN anticipates four new Alliance Communities coming online: New London; New Haven with LAMP and the largest open studios in New England, and Putnam and Middletown next month.

New London, CT illuminates how our placemaking model is emerging. This model pulls together a number of resources, local and regional creatives, the city’s PR and marketing team, the local foundations, banks, and all the local property owners and says, “Let’s do this together. Let’s institute these placemaking projects to give our community an inspiring identity.”

In partnership with New London Main Streets, we are designing a public art project that involves telling the history of the great architecture of its buildings and activating the vacant storefront windows with a design campaign bringing together CT’s design community. The aim of this convening is to build a design center that takes historical icons, stories, and local characters and broadcasts it out onto the main streets, injecting new vibrancy, pride and buzz while building interest in New London Designs, with places and spaces ready for a creative makeover.  Long term goals are that a storefront program for creative businesses will always be in place and New London will be known not only as a transportation hub with a music scene but a design enclave, a destination for inspiration and a place to explore living and working opportunities.

Recent Wins
-- Just published online is this story by a student writing for ArtScope magazine who reported on New London.

-- We are starting to see how our networks are becoming ever more effective at generating new opportunities for Connecticut’s artists and artisans.

-- After the success of “State of Makers,” our first holiday season convening of artisan makers from around the state in Waterbury, CT, we have begun planning future “State of Makers” events and marrying them to already existing events happening in our alliance communities. In New London, where “SailFest” is an established, annual, three-day event bringing some 300,000 people into New London each summer, we are planning a “State of Makers” event harnessing the pedestrian rich sidewalks in downtown as booths for our makers from around the state.

-- In Bridgeport’s Historic Arcade where we launched the Arcade Storefronts project bringing new retail energy into an underutilized building, we are now working with the Bridgeport DSSD to program the main floor area with activities. One of the first is the newly planned IMPACT project (Imagine Mixing Percussive Artforms CT), which will feature our partner Community Radio Station WPKN 98.5 that will be collaborating with Drum Circle Leader and Community Builder Billy Fischer from Bethany, CT. The event will assemble many of Connecticut’s preeminent percussionists to come together as an ensemble performing a “percussive symphony” comprised African drummers, Japanese taiko drummers, Caribbean drummers, Korean drummers, Latin American drummers, and ethnic drummers of every variety. With at least three other drum circles in New Britain, New London and Middletown, we hope to capture the largest possible number of Connecticut percussionists to perform. These local events will herald a culminating event, a mega drum circle/percussive symphony in Hartford’s Bushnell Park in September as the closing ceremony at the Envisionfest celebration.

-- LAMP (Light Artists Making Places) joined CreateHereNow and is expanding and planning on working with light artists in four alliance communities across the state. LAMP was founded by artists and businesses in New Haven’s 9th square and is now going into its 4th year. Through the vehicle of CreateHereNow, many other residents, artists and creatives will have a chance to participate in lighting up and celebrating their cities and towns, creating signature events that activate and stimulate the economy leading to additional investments by each community.

CHN is making a deliberate effort to reduce the number of peripheral meetings that we attend by utilizing online meeting technologies. These efficiencies are a pronounced time saver and free us up to make more time for the actual work of placemaking.

Our new local creative leaders are always invited to meetings at every level and are learning how to find and leverage funds, apply for grants and build sustainability plans for placemaking efforts.

Recent Radio interviews have proven a powerful source of gathering support:
-- Margaret Bodell on NPR

-- Rod Frantz on WILI

All of our various placemaking efforts convince the people of Connecticut that their places can have a different and better future.