The Mad River Industrial Art Park


Funding Received: 2013
Blue Lake, CA
Funding Period: 1 year and 5 months
April 14, 2014


Two Dell’Arte representatives attended the ArtPlace Grantee Summit on March 3-5 in Los Angeles. It was great to meet other ArtPlace grantees, network with grantees and funders, and connect over triumphs, frustrations, and questions about our creative placemaking project as we move forward.

As an arts organization run by artists, our mission is sometimes both to generate the project and manage the project. We were grateful to be in the room with city planners, government officials, community organizers, and those of very different disciplines than our own. The varied perspectives helped us to expand our own views of our project, see potential partnerships in our community we had not considered before, and understand in a larger way the momentum of creative placemaking throughout the nation—how we are part of the timeline and spectrum. How do we recognize our roots and collectively activate a future that is inclusive, self-aware, and has the power to revitalize our communities?

We were also pleased by the amount of rural representation—we were able to feel heard at the table, and also have direct access to other projects similar to our own, in order to ask specific questions from funding models to permitting questions, to specifically rural challenges that differ greatly from urban ones.

In news on the home font, our new partnership with Humboldt Made is heating up in a great way! They are planning a BIG BUYER TOUR at the end of April in Blue Lake in which larger manufacturers and buyers (e.g. Whole Foods Market) are invited to Blue Lake to see the artisanal products produced in this community and in the larger county. There is an opportunity to work together with our arts expertise and ArtPlace funding to make this event truly spectacular and unforgettable in the minds of the visiting buyers. This is exactly the kind of potential economic development we hope to see for our small, local businesses.

Jacqueline Debets (HUMCo economic development/Headwaters, a local foundation) asked us to be on her Tuesday night Talk radio program on April 10 to talk about ArtPlace and the economic impact of the Arts in this region. She asked who else we should ask to be on the show with us. After the convening in L.A. and finding ArtPlace staff receptive and ready to lend their individual voice to our individual projects, we recommended that we invite Jamie Bennett, ArtPlace’s Executive Director. He agreed and we think this is great!

As a result of the ArtPlace grant and increased amount of creative placemaking funds available, we are jointly writing a grant proposal to the California Arts Council with two other regional flagship arts and creative placemaking organizations: The Ink People from Eureka, CA and Playhouse Arts from Arcata, CA. As a rural area with less access to local funding, we have decided cooperation is a key ingredient to furthering all of our goals in our highly artistic county. As one of the members of the cohort said when we sat down to discuss the particulars, “We are making history, guys!” Through the collective recognition of our unique contributions to the arts in our towns, we can hopefully bring more awareness to all of the work emanating from our region. As a direct result of the ArtPlace initiative, we are coming together as arts organizations to share resources, efforts, and time to develop a better outlook for Performing Arts in Humboldt County.

Dell’Arte’s MFA students and partner organizations initiated three Community-Based Arts projects in the community over the past five weeks. One of Dell’Arte International’s deepest values is engendering the relationship between art and place and artists in their community. We practice this value in our company work, and we teach this value in our school. 2014 marks our 11th consecutive year of engaging in Community Based Arts initiatives headed by Dell’Arte’s third-year MFA classes. This year, with support from ArtPlace America, two of the projects focused on specific partnerships in the Blue Lake community.

The Riverside Fish Fair
Saturday, March 15th at 2 p.m. next to the Mad River Brewery tasting room in Blue Lake, the Blue Lake School 6th grade class presented the first-ever “Riverside Fish Fair.” It was a FREE event celebrating the source of life that connects us all—the beautiful Mad River, in partnership with the Mad River Alliance and their river education programs. More than 125 people from the community and the parents of the 6th graders attended. The kids performed original theatre filled with fish, facts, and old-fashioned fun. Games, crafts, and guest speakers surrounded the event. The kids did an awesome job and visibly got a lot out of performing in front of an audience of their peers and family and supportive community.

Blue Lake: A Last Resort, An Evening of Storytelling
Saturday March 15th, at 6 p.m. in the Carlo Theatre at Dell’Arte International, members of Dell’Arte’s third year ensemble in partnership with the Blue Lake Museum invited one and all to relive stories from the town’s colorful past and present. From railroad to resort town, Blue Lake offers a history like no other. Community members told stories about their relationship with the Dell’arte Building (an Oddfellows Hall before a theatre) and the crowd was multigenerational, some who had not been in the building since its transition over thirty years ago. The museum reported they got more than ever before in new membership, donations, and pre-sales of their new book “Where is the Lake?,” written a local resident. The night felt like a real homegrown event, full of community spirit and sharing. As one viewer commented, “It was so important to have the event in the Dell’Arte Building. It gave residents a feeling of ownership of the SPACE that they had not had in a long time.”

BLM exhibit BL Mus Story Box

How We Encounter the World; Our Stories, Our Selves
Dell’Arte International’s 3rd year MFA students Lucy Shelby and Ariel Lauryn partnered with Troop 70526 of the Girl Scouts of Northern California, to advance the Girl Scout mission; “Girl scouting builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place.” Through a Workshop series titled “How We Encounter Our World; an exploration of awareness, ourselves (particularly as females), and the world we inhabit” the Dell’Arte students used the medium of theatre to collaborate with the girls to create a Live Magazine performance event at Synapsis in Eureka. This event was intended for invited guests only, and all of the parents and invited guest got a glimpse in to the process that the girls experience during the workshop.

GirlScouts of America session

Recent Wins
Talks are moving forward for the Blue Lake Nature Park, a project of a local ad-hoc organization “the Old Crows,” a group of concerned citizens mobilizing to create civic improvement projects in Blue Lake. This project includes creating a new public use trail with educational signage about the history of Blue Lake, native vegetation, fish and wildlife with opportunities for picnicking, sightseeing, bird watching, and exercise; a large community garden with an educational component to help people learn to grow and take pride in growing healthy food. Garden volunteers will benefit by taking extra produce home; a large pond for migrating waterfowl to utilize and a renewed connection to Powers Creek, providing significant off-channel over-winter (and over-summer) rearing opportunities for juvenile Coho salmon and steelhead. Benefits of the project will be a new public appreciation for the history of Blue Lake and an increased sense of community; an increase in out-of-town users for the trail system, thereby also increasing interest for a wider system of trails, such as the Annie & Mary Rail Trail; an increase in healthy home-grown food and a more educated community for healthy gardening.

Local Chanel Three filmed a special on the Blue Lake Rising Grants

A reposting of a story presented at “Blue Lake: A Last Resort” by Blue Lake Resident Kim.

We need to be more proactive, learn from those that have come before us and not be afraid to ask for help from other ArtPlace grantees, our government officials, and the amazing ArtPlace staff. We need to learn from others how to best collate the information in our project in quantitative and qualitative ways.

BLM postshow