The Mad River Industrial Art Park


Funding Received: 2013
Blue Lake, CA
Funding Period: 1 year and 5 months
September 3, 2013

Dell’Arte’s 35' x 80' blue and yellow striped tent is finding a home near the Mad River for the first annual "Blue Lake Harvest Days" celebration on October 18th and 19th, a community kick-off event that will highlight ‘The Mad River Industrial Art Park’ in action. Also supported by a grant from the California Arts Council, ‘Harvest Days’ will highlight Blue Lake artisans, businesses, local musicians, and arts-centered interactive activities. Combining community events already taking place and aligning them in one weekend to heighten visibility, such as the Great Mad River Grange Pumpkin Festival, ‘Harvest Days’ will link downtown Blue Lake to the Industrial park near the river with coordinated festivities. ‘Harvest Days’ will have a block party feel, but be open to the neighboring region, and will be the first in annual seasonal programming. Importantly, the aim is to reach out to as many Blue Lake residents as possible. As a town with a population of under 2,000, this is an exciting prospect.

October 18th is a full harvest moon and we are buzzing with action to make the event come together: booking artists, mapping spaces, jump-starting arts projects, arranging pumpkin delivery, plans, meetings, more plans, more meetings, budgets, and of course, lots of ideas and enthusiasm. We are working with an action team of local business and arts partners and many community volunteers and organizations.

A major part of this month has been identifying cross-sector partners about their specific roles and interests in the upcoming projects, utilizing community assets for long-range planning and marketing initiatives, and forming action teams that will move forward as decision making bodies within the overarching goal “ to boost the economy in Blue Lake through the arts.”

A community-wide meeting is planned for September 17th to explain the scope of the project to Blue Lake residents and to get their input and ideas, and give voice to the community We have had a planning, permit, and advisement meeting with the City of Blue Lake, who continues to be very supportive of the initiative.

Punctual Folly: Sep.t 14th marked a packed day of filming for Punctual Folly in collaboration with Humboldt State University’s Department of Theatre, Film, and Dance. Punctual Folly is an outdoor film instillation that will be projected on building walls in downtown Blue Lake during the summer Mad River Festival in June 2014. Inspired by the etching ‘Punctual Folly’ by artist Francisco Goya, the experimental film/ theatre hybrid is written and directed by resident Dell’Arte playwright Lauren Wilson, and stars Dell’Arte Company heavyweights Ronlin Foreman, Dell’Arte’s School Director, Michael Fields, Producing Artistic Director, and Joan Schirle, Founding Artistic Director of Dell’Arte.

Ten for Ten: We are in the development phase to roll out a mini-grant program for community arts-based civic projects in November. Our goal is to make ten mini-grants available to the community over a ten year period, with various civic and arts organizations, as well as private sponsors taking the lead for each year’s funding. The funds will be used for arts-based projects designed by community members to create their “Blue Lake Vision.”

Recent Wins
A great win for Dell’Arte this month was receiving the tent and seeing it put to great inaugural use in the Creamery District Festival in Arcata. Our own plans are to use the tent as a way of extending the reach of our Harvest Days Festival into the Art Park area.

Our larger community is on fire!

Humboldt-Made, a large-scale marketing initiative for Humboldt products, had a packed house at the Eureka Theatre on Sept. 7 for the premiere of their video campaign. We are excited this re-branding of Humboldt County that is happening in our neck of the woods. Check out more at .

Hat's Off Creamery District! Great crowds and great arts programming for the three-day Creamery District Festival this August, a creative place-making initiative supported by NEA for Arcata- based Playhouse Arts and partners. Pictures speak a thousand words, so check out the slideshow in the Eureka Times-Standard.

In terms of Arts programming, we understand that because we are an arts org, it would seem logical to our partner organizations we would be the ones providing all the arts programming for the Art Park, but a lot of our time has/will be taken up in the planning for these events, and facilitating a larger idea of " the arts" that are happening all around Blue Lake-- highlighting all the businesses, and artisans, those already doing work here...and to re-envision what art means in a larger sense, to boost long-term longevity in the area and highlight all of our current programs. The "artisinal level of excellence from the businesses in the park" is something to highlight more in how we conceive of events.

Also, arts, especially the performing arts, take rehearsal, thought, and most of all, time—a good lesson to remember about the pace of any initiative, especially ours as it takes time to build. Patience. Practice. Vision. Failure, and risk taking.

We are also working on our end to figure out what this means, how we can facilitate AND participate in the process, and how to make sure our event are not TOO big because we want to be sensitive to the balance of creating a sustainable practice -- so that our work in this grant cycle will be repeatable and so that our partners outside of Dell’Arte Lake will feel agency in the continuation of the initiatives that have been given a start by Artplace America funding.

After much brainstorming, we have been returning to basics, in the sense that we are looking back to our initial goals, to the main purpose of our grant, and to what that really means in terms of the most community impact for the most community inclusion, while at the same time making sure our own organization continues to benefit and grow, as opposed to feel strained to uphold more programming. This is a result of really listening to our partners’ dreams and visions, and getting a clearer sense of what will serve the whole.

If our goal is to boost the economy through the arts, we should have ways to measure this—what is our measurement and what are the best practices for measuring this in through our partners?