Holyoke awarded $30K for Creative Economy

The Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) this week announced new grants to support artist work and live spaces across the Commonwealth through their ArtistLink grant program. The MCC awarded the City of Holyoke $20,000 and an additional $10,000 to the Canal Gallery onDwight Street.

“These funds will allow us to plan for the expansion of the creative economy in Holyoke. At the same time we’ll be able to provide direct assistance to property owners so that they can transform their spaces for arts, entertainment and restaurant venues, and the kind of amenities that make a downtown vibrant and attractive,” said Mayor Alex Morse.

The City will take a two-pronged approach to encourage affordable artist space in downtown through this grant. First, a market demand assessment for artist space will be completed, creating a quantifiable document that can assist the City, property owners and developers to encourage work and live spaces for artists in compliance with the City’s Master Plan, Center City Vision Plan and Urban Renewal Plan. Second, part of the grant will provide assistance to property owners who are transforming the use of their spaces for arts, entertainment or other creative sector businesses. “Creating more spaces for artists to work and live is critical to grow the creative economy. This money will allow us to both identify the market for art space and stimulate more private investment to provide it” said Jeff Bianchine, Holyoke’s new Creative Economy Coordinator, who will oversee the projects tied to these funds.

Municipal grants were awarded to cities and towns that demonstrated a commitment to advance and integrate artist space planning into community-wide economic development plans and strategies. The grants help ensure that artists have access to stable and affordable work and live/work spaces.  “When we applied for this grant we pointed to all the projects going on in the downtown and the initiative to have a Creative Economy Coordinator funded by the City. I think when people see this they understand our commitment towards revitalization and the creative sector, and want to be part of supporting that” said Marcos A. Marrero, Director of Planning and Economic Development for the City of Holyoke.

For its part, the Canal Gallery will be able to use its grant to properly plan for the maintenance and replacement of the utility systems used by the building. The Systems Replacement & Maintenance Planning Grant provides owners of artist buildings with tools to prioritize their capital maintenance needs, acquire information and analysis needed to address the cycles of replacement and maintenance, and introduce energy efficiency and accessibility/universal design opportunities for the facility.

“Sustainable, affordable spaces for artists to work and live are a crucial element of a successful creative economy,” said MCC Executive Director Anita Walker. “Since its inception, ArtistLink has helped create more than 700,000 square feet of artist workspace, community arts spaces, galleries, and other creative spaces. This new round of grants continues this vital work.”

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