Better Together: The Case for Cultural Affairs Office and Springfield Central Cultural District Partnership
“Cultural activity draws new residents into communities, reducing poverty, and increasing population. Cultural participation builds bridges across neighborhood, ethnic, and class divides in ways that other forms of civic engagement do not...”Culture Builds Community:Power of Arts and Culture in Community Building, Social Impact of the Arts Project, 2001.
Broad support for the creation of Cultural Affairs Offices across the Commonwealth has been a key to successfully leveraging the collective impact of arts and culture in those cities. No single member of the Springfield Central Cultural District has the organizational bandwidth and mission to address these broader priorities of improving public safety, expanding educational opportunities, and bringing all of the City’s cultural assets to their full economic potential. Establishing a citywide office of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the Springfield Central Cultural District and the many other existing arts and cultural organizations and activities throughout the City, build a vibrant arts and cultural coalition, and a sustainable economic driver for Springfield, through a coordinated effort within city government.
“A thriving creative sector is one of our Commonwealth's most powerful economic development assets. In support of this, the MCC’s Cultural Districts Initiative was authorized by an act of the Massachusetts State legislature in 2010.” --Massachusetts Cultural Council
The Springfield Central Cultural District (SCCD), working in partnership with the City of Springfield would bring together disparate parts of all of Springfield’s cultural and arts’ related offerings in a coordinated powerful force for achieving these goals of improving public safety, creating jobs, improving and expanding educational opportunities for young people, and improving Springfield’s overall image in our region and beyond.
The Springfield Central Cultural District 22 Member organizations:
★ Engage 2.5 million visitors annually among Central Cultural District member organizations
★ Contribute total annual revenues among Central Cultural District members in excess of $37 million
★ Represent 340 Board members from broad segment of Greater Springfield community leadership
Improving Public Safety
★ Creation of a Cultural Affairs Office within the city will provide an inclusive voice for all Arts and Cultural stakeholders throughout the City; it will increase visibility for arts and cultural programming, help to build civic infrastructure and improve Springfield’s ability to solve problems, set goals, and enhance the health and economic outcomes for its residents. The Cultural Affairs Office would coordinate regular meetings with city department leaders to set goals of enhanced safety at public events and expanded community engagement.
★ Springfield’s many public arts and culture projects and events are leading the way in activating public spaces and thereby increasing public safety. Research shows that community arts venues play an important role as civic spaces, allowing for social interaction and fostering dialogue across generations, ethnicities, race, and gender;
★ Springfield is a walkable city: Springfield has an exceptionally walkable downtown, as evidenced by the recent designation of Springfield Central Cultural District by the Mass Cultural Council. Springfield is uniquely positioned to leverage walkability of the downtown with arts and cultural organizations through various wayfinding and other creative initiatives underway;
★ Springfield’s nationally recognized cultural assets improve the overall quality of life for residents and visitors, partner with schools to improve educational outcomes, and provide a positive social environment, making neighborhoods safer, more welcoming, and help to and shift negative perceptions;
Creating and Supporting Economic & Workforce Development Initiatives
★ Nonprofit arts and cultural organizations across Massachusetts support more than 45,000 jobs, spend $2.1 billion annually and generate another $2.5 billion of economic activity. Locally the Springfield Arts and Culture organizations foster a vibrant ecosystem which supports the creative community and industry that attract artists, cultural enterprises, encourage business and job growth, preserve and re- use historic buildings, enhance property values and fosters local cultural development
★ Recent investment in Springfield, including the newly renovated $81M Union Station Intermodal Transportation Center with incoming commuter rail between New Haven-Hartford-Springfield, the redevelopment and $15 million investment of SilverBrick Lofts into residential and artist live/work space, the relocation of New England Public Radio’s headquarters to Bridge and Main streets, and MGM’s proposed casino resort, increase the critical role that the Arts & Culture sector plays in enhancing Springfield’s creative economy
★ Springfield’s Jazz & Roots Festival, Spirit of Springfield’s Holiday Concert, Springfield’s Dr. King Day Celebration at the MassMutual Center are just a few examples of high impact programming and the collective impact of arts/culture working together with civic leaders toward shared goals and outcomes.
Expanding Educational Opportunities for Springfield Youth
★ Springfield’s arts/culture/ education organizations are leaders in creating groundbreaking programs for creative youth development, with nationally recognized partnerships that strengthen school communities and provide critical mentorship and programming for vulnerable children;
★ We have a concentration of higher education institutions in our community (13 institutions of higher learning) with significant potential for partnerships and joint programming;
★ Given the the world class public/private organizations in our city at the intersection of art, science and technology, coordinated programs and events among arts and culture organizations would raise the profile of Springfield and unlock the potential of cross sector partnerships and programs.