The Mad River Industrial Art Park


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

"Blue Lake used to be known as a place where you just came to get by. Now it is known as a place to thrive."
Quote from community participant in 1st meeting of stakeholders


The key update for this month is that we held our first meeting of the key stakeholders and partners of the Mad River Industrial Art Park. In the meeting, we outlined the ideals and goals behind Creative Placemaking in general, and behind the Artplace America Funding in particular. We then went into the parameters of our project, laying out the givens of timeframe, budget, locations, and management. Finally we went into a discussion of ideal outcomes, and gains that could be made through this project and also a discussion of concerns and possible negative impacts. Joined in the conversation were members from 13 different organizations in our community, including members of our staff and board of directors, city management and city planning dept., chamber of commerce, Mad River Alliance, Humboldt Folklife Festival, Blue Lake Museum Society, Humboldt Area Foundation, and the current business tenants at the industrial park. We outlined immediate next steps which include setting a series of meetings open to the public at large in early fall, creating four committees to move forward on the project (Visual Identifiers, Marketing & Publicity, Programming & Events, Sustainability), the hiring of a project coordinator, and the planning of a kick-off event.

In the meantime, we have been immersed in the production of the 2013 Mad River Festival (June 20- July 20th), now moving into its final week. This year’s festival has allowed us to pilot-test a few of our expansion ideas for next year on a small scale – adding a few additional evenings of performance, experimenting with late-night showings, and adding another outdoor show. We also created an audience survey to begin to get feedback from our current patrons about the type of programming they like and the types of new programming they might be interested in. One of our goals for this year’s festival is to take as much information as we can now to start planning for next year’s expanded festival into and around the Mad River Industrial Art Park.

Recent Wins

The 2013 Mad River Festival has garnered enthusiastic audiences, great reviews and fantastic weather. We have reached over 3,000 audience members of all ages with late-night acrobatic-theatre (sold out houses all four nights), adult Cabaret (sold out houses for both nights), a backyard matinee for kids (kids from town could get in for $1) and our 2013 festival headliner, Shakespeare's "The Comedy of Errors," presented in our outdoor Amphitheatre.

“high-spirited, physically witty..." -The North Coast Journal

"It would be a mistake to miss Dell’Arte’s The Comedy of Errors." -The Arcata Eye

"Schirle is outstanding as the red-headed Antiphola twins. " -The North Coast Journal

"Their special, Dell'Arte Co.-brand of physical comedy...suits the Bard's rude Elizabethan humor like a wickedly witty glove." - Tri-City Weekly

Next week we close the Mad River Festival in partnership with Artplace partner The Humboldt Folklife Society with the Humboldt Folklife Festival. Dell'Arte, the City of Blue Lake, and the Mad River Brewery provide the venues: the DAI main building, Blue Lake’s Main St., and the Mad River Tasting Room. The Folklife Society will provide 8 days of programming, including an all- day free music festival on July 20th. Workshops in instrument making, dance, and a Beatles sing-a-long are just some of the planned activities.

Here is a link to Folk Life’s video of the 2012 Festival, edited by Chuck Johnson
July 14th is Blue Lake's Annie and Mary Day- hosted by Artplace Partner, the Blue Lake Chamber of Commerce. Music at the park, Blue Lake Museum tours, a parade through town, and a performance at Dell'Arte are just some of the day's events. This event brings thousands into Blue Lake. More info here.

On Monday July 15th, our partner Mad River Alliance will begin their Summer Steelhead Survey on the Mad River. From previous river clean-ups this season, they report they have pulled close to three dumpster’s full of trash from the Mad River Corridor.


As we delve deeper in with our partners and extend that web further out into the community, as we start to fashion the projects, the events, the "happenings" at the center of the project, as we set this in motion, we are struck with how much and how far we need to see beyond this 18 month period. We don't want to build a one-year wonder. We want to put in motion something that stays in motion. And that question has started to inform both our planning and our design. We know that we cannot predict what will happen. We know that we must expect the surprise and the happy accident. But as we weave this project we seek to instill a momentum to it that will continue to engender a movement. This beginning is a time of tremendous excitement and possibility. We are looking to keep that spirit throughout the project and beyond the 18-month timeline.