The Mad River Industrial Art Park


Funding Received: 2013
Blue Lake, CA
Funding Period: 1 year and 5 months
July 7, 2013


Receiving the Artplace America award was one of the pleasantest, shockingest, thrillingest pieces of funding news we have ever received. This first month has largely been about letting the impact of that award announcement sink in and laying the groundwork for the implementation of the project.

Our first steps have involved all things communication. Announcements were made to our staff, our board of directors, our circle of advisors - people we call our “famiglia.” We made direct phone calls to all of our project partners to let them know the good news. We carefully crafted our press release and submitted it to all of our local, regional and industry-specific media sources. Once the information had been made public, we sent out emails and made phone calls to every community constituency we could think of – we wanted to make sure that community members and organizations who would potentially be impacted by the project or participate in it had a chance to hear about the scope and the ideals from us before reading about it in a newspaper. And although our city government was in on the project proposal from the earliest stages, we appeared before our city council and our city planning commission to formally announce the award and the statement of intent as listed above to give city council members, city planners and the public at large a chance to ask questions and express any concerns about the project from the get-go.

Tonight we open our 2013 Mad River Festival. As we launch this year’s festival, we have already started to set the stage for next year’s community expansion. We have begun conversations with Humboldt Folklife Festival about expanding the music programming for next year, possibly also adding a blues component to the festival. We have started conversations with local and industry funders about the possibilities for creating three mobile stages to expand our programming reach into the community; a tent stage, a wagon stage, and a floating stage for the Mad River. We have reached out to another creative placemaking project in our county, The Creamery Arts District, to gain insights, exchange information, and to coordinate the sharing of resources when possible.

Our immediate next steps will include a meeting with all of the named partners in the ArtPark project, including all of the current business tenants. We will also set a community-wide open meeting in August and before that takes place we plan to research and engage the services of an arts/community facilitator.

Recent Wins

We received the following coverage on our local TV news station:

We received the following coverage in our local newspaper:

Maritime and instructional book publisher and binder, Paradise Cay, moved into the Blue Lake Industrial Park.

As a result of the ArtPlace America initiative, a new relationship has been formed with Sjaaks Chocolate, a long-time manufacturer in the industrial park. Dell'Arte is now selling their chocolate at the Mad River Festival concessions bar.

The 2013 Mad River Festival opens today! This marks the festival’s 23r year. Next year’s festival will help commemorate Dell’Arte’s 40th anniversary.


One question that comes up for us is how and to what extent the wealth of information that exists on creative placemaking will translate to our specific, rural community and proposed project. While we have a lot to learn from those who have already engaged in creative placemaking projects of this scope with successful outcomes, and while we do not wish to reinvent the wheel at every turn (!), we also are quickly recognizing that this is not a one-size-fits-all venture. At the early stages of our project we are feeling the press to gain as much insight, knowledge and research as possible in terms of best practices, but at the same time we want to enter the project with an open mind as to what is possible and to what the collective vision of the community will bring forward. While research and availability are not mutually exclusive, they do sometimes work at cross-purposes and we are trying to find the best path forward with that in mind.