Monday, January 19, 2009

The Television Debut of Pawtucket Rising

Pawtucket Rising, the documentary by Fall River's own Jason Caminiti, will air twice this week on Rhode Island PBS, WSBE.

Back in September I had the chance to watch and review Pawtucket Rising, Jason Caminiti's first effort in filmmaking. I was impressed. Pawtucket Rising is a documentary with a fascinating look at the revitalization of a New England Mill City.

Caminiti who has described himself as the talent in front of the camera is not seen or heard, instead he tells the story through the interview of others. The story moves along, almost like reading a book, each new section highlighted like a new chapter.

The story, of course is about the revitalization of Pawtucket, Rhode Island. It's a story about artist and developers seeing a community that provided affordable possibilities. It's about local government seizing the chance for economic growth. And yet, Pawtucket Rising makes it clear that these things didn't just happen, nothing just fell into place. Pawtucket Rising is a documentary about a shared vision and about the team work that takes place to make that vision a reality.

Pawtucket Rising not only serves as a documentary of what has taken place in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, it is also serves as a lesson that can be learned by other communities facing the same problems and struggles.

The making of Pawtucket Rising is just as fascinating as the story the documentary tells. Caminiti has no intention of making a film the first time he stepped in Pawtucket. Instead he went to learn about what was going on in Pawtucket and to see how those efforts could be used here in Fall River. The filmed interviews were to be used for his local access cable show, The Fall River Show.

After doing some of the initial interviews Jason began to realize that there was a story here that should be told, a story that a few interviews were not going to give justice to. With an amazing amount of cooperation from the city of Pawtucket, Caminiti embarked on the making of a documentary.

The fact that he had never made a film before and didn't have a budget didn't deter him. Caminiti did most of the filming himself with his trusty handheld camcorder. For almost a year, starting in November of 2007, Caminiti would juggle trips to Pawtucket and long nights of editing material with his full time job as Director of Information Technology. He was able to secure the efforts of composer Francisco J. Rodríguez, to score the film but was still editing in late August of 2008 with screenings in Fall River and Pawtucket just weeks away.

The film that was made for the cost of gasoline and tapes for his camera was shown to an enthusiastic audience on September 10, 2008 in Fall River, less than two weeks later Pawtucket Rising was part of the 9th Annual Pawtucket Film Festival. Caminiti's film has received reviews, write ups or mentions in the Providence Journal, the Fall River Herald News, the Standard Times, the Newport Daily News, Providence Phoenix, the Fall River Spirit, the Pawtucket Times, and this blog!

Pawtucket Rising can be seen January 22nd at 10 p.m. and January 24th at 7 p.m. on Rhode Island PBS, Channel 36. It can also be seen in Fall River, Freetown, Somerset and Swansea on cable Channel 19. It can be seen in Westport on cable Channel 9 and on cable Channel 8 in Rhode Island.

118 comments:

Tom Paine said...

It is people like Jason that the city leaders have shunnned. Jason did a great job, but as I watched his film I said to myself: We have no one currently on the 6th floor who has the energy, the foresight, and the will to go forward.

I am not saying we can duplicate what Pawtucket did, but we lack true planning.

For example, I am not in favor of doing anything with the Durfee Street property until the city's master plan comes out so we all have the chance to take a look and tweak it.

After that I think the city should create a "Vision Plan". What do we, the citizens, really want to do with our waterfront etc?

But in reality we all know who controls the 6th floor and what voices are being heard. Sad.

Anonymous said...

Pawtucket has a higher unemployment rate than Fall River, 11%, the highest in Rhgode Island. The Renaissance there is a joke.

Anonymous said...

Hey Lefty what is it with you and artist. You continue to espouse there cause to no end. Artist have been feeding at the public trough for many years. 1% of every public construction budget goes to the arts. Fall River is a lower middle class working city. It needs revitalization that will create REAL jobs bring in REAL tax revenue. Get off your high horse and come back down to earth

Tom Paine said...

It does not matter if you think we should go in the direction of the arts, or whatever, but we need a direction, a plan. Sure, we might not want to duplicate what Pawtucket is doing, but I think we are missing the meaning here, and that is we must start looking at Fall River and decide what niche can we fill.

Lefty said...

I couldn't agree with you more Tom.

I think the arts certainly could be a part of a revitalized Fall River and what anon doesn't realize is that part of the revitalization is developing a Fall River that people want to visit, develop, and invest in.

I would ask what anon thinks would be a good revitaliztion project?

And while Pawtucket may be suffering with higher unemployment now, we have to take into account that Rhode Island has been especially hard hit by the recent economic crisis. Before we can belittle Pawtucket's revitaliztion, we would have to see where what sectors the job loss is coming from.

I found Pawtucket Rising to be eye opening, not because Pawtucket embraced the arts, but because of the way the city cooperated with private interests and team work in reaching shared goals. It's something I have not seen here in Fall River. Others might disagree with me. I'd say watch it and decide for yourself.

Tom Paine said...

Throughout history, the greatest civilizations knew that the arts and sciences were an integral part of their culture and well being. Wihtout the support of the government and other institutions we would not know of da vinci, Beethoven, Jacque Cousteau, Columbus, Mozart, just to name a few.

When you turn away from art, science etc, which Fall River has neglected for years, society degenerates and declines.

Many in this city seem to feel that it is alright to ignore culture and they pass this down to their children.

Well, damn it, it is not alright! You are missing out on so much. The wonder of life, the simple pleasure of being able to sit with another human to discuss about the universe and our place in it. By brining in art and science and culture you open up a world that a young mind want to grab and understand.

There are people in this community who want to make this a better place but too many are quick to ridicule and knock down.

If you are happy to have a mayor without vision and intelligence, if you are happy to watch 10 hours of TV, if you are happy to sit on a bar stool all day; I say fine, have it your way. But, think of your children for a second and realize that things must change here and soon. Please open your mind.

Anonymous said...

Art if fine - BUT IT IS NOT AN ECONOMIC STIMULUS TOOL - The city needs real revenue

RadioFree said...

"Art if fine - BUT IT IS NOT AN ECONOMIC STIMULUS TOOL - The city needs real revenue"

What a completely ignorant comment. If you knew anything about city planning and economic redevelopment, you'd know the exact opposite is true in gateway cities and old industrial centers across the country.

Fail.

Anonymous said...

Wrong Radio Free

The arts would never work in Fall River

There is no other reason to come to the city except Battleship Cove. It is the same arguement that was used for the Childrens Museum. The build it and they will come just dosen't work all the time. FR Bloggers need to get off there HIGH Horse and understand that they need REAL TAX REVENUE

Lefty said...

Anon,

Please get off YOUR high-horse and tell us what REAL TAX REVENUE is?

The Arts, as a economic catalyst, has worked in other communities. If you know of something better that will help promote long term growth by all means tell us.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure developing more hud housing will bring people into the city in droves and put a strain on the school system, police and fire and other services. Perhaps self sufficient attractions would be more of a draw to get visitors. Look at new bedford.

Anonymous said...

REAL TAX REVENUE = Anything that makes a significant PROFIT.

You are looking for a free lunch with your elitist artist colony.

Come back to earth and realize that Fall River is a lower middle class city that needs basic job and revenue creating development

Tom Paine said...

Real tax revenue? From what exactly? Manufacturing? Lack of space there, not a modern facility.

Anonymous said...

And a profit can be realized by the influx of visitors to the restaurants and attractions to the city. = profit. Hud money only goes to the developer.

Tom Paine said...

Folks, think about this. By posting this blog Lefty is creating discussion on this incredible topic. Creative juices are flowing. There are some who believe in the arts, others who are against the arts, people like me want to see more information and believe it can be a combination of things. But the important thing is this:

We are currently doing more in our little discussions on these blogs than FROED, RA, and the politicians have done for years, and that is to think!

Lefty said...

Thanks Tom, and thanks to everyone for being part of the converstation.

Is embracing the arts the secret to Fall River's turnaround? It certainly can play a role. It's a tool that has been used in many other communities with success. It's not about Fall River being a lower middle class city. It's about developing reasons for people with disposal incomes to come and visit and spend in our shops, our restaurants and our attractions. It's about enhancing our city and adding culture that will entice people to move here. These people will be lured by the low prices of our real estate, by our waterviews, by the things that we add, and the excitment that comes from a city's revitalization.

These may lead to the industry that we do have in Massachusetts to take a second look at investing in Fall River. "The city's not downtrodden, it's on its way up!" and if these companies were to move here so would the people who want those jobs.

It really is about enhancing our city, and repackaging ourselves. And I think a big lesson from Pawtucket Rising is that it's about the city finding a common goal and then working with community partners to realize that goal. That is something that just has not happened here.

Maybe bringing in artists, with galleries and shops, maybe bringing in jewelery makers and glass blowers is not going to help Joe and Mary who worked at Quaker for 30 years and are now out of a job, but it may help thier son or daughter, who after leaving BCC or UMD might find that there are jobs here waiting for them.

We have got to find ways to build the foundation for our city's future. If the arts can't play a role then what will?

Anonymous said...

You really have to take a look at some of the other cities and towns that have been revitalized and how. You need a mix, look at providence, new bedford, south boston.

What changed those cities? Was it hud properties or elderly housing? No it was restaurants, arts, attractions and proximity to other cities, ie newport, boston.

Anonymous said...

" It's about developing reasons for people with disposal incomes to come and visit and spend in our shops, our restaurants and our attractions "

THEY WILL NOT COME JUST TO SEE ART

There is no such thing as a free lunch. Fall River IS a lower middle class city. The good times are over you.

The country is broke
The state is broke
The city is broke

Rather that worry about bringing in NEW people, you need to create REAL jobs that pay REAL wages

Lefty you are too hung up on this elitist artist colony get back to reality

Anonymous said...

This is a wonderful discussion ... and, in a way, THIS is art. Above all else, art is statement, dialogue, stimulation of interaction among thinking people.

I think you're all correct, in different ways. I hear those of you who say that FR is a lower middle class city and what it needs is a quick shot in the arm (i.e. jobs & tax revenue) ... and I also hear those of you who point to Pawtucket and other rising industrial cities as examples of how art can lead the way. And I don't think Lefty's saying that art is the be-all and end-all.

What it is, is a catalyst. As several folks have pointed out, it's a way to draw people into the city ... people who will bring disposable income and new energy. I would also suggest that art has the potential to add that indefinable human element that will help the city rise up ... the kind of wit and beauty and sense of creativity that will, organically, help people feel better about themselves.

Artists are problem-solvers. They're doers. By example, they will model the kind of behavior and approach that can bring FR back.

And Pawtucket is not unique. Look at Pittsburgh. Look at Brooklyn. Look at Austin.

All that said, the key point is that art is a CATALYST. On its own, it can't jump-start FR. It needs to be part of an alchemy of activity that includes great restaurants, other cultural assets, a demonstrably safe community, etc. If art draws new folks into FR, they need to have something else to do once they get here ... and they need to feel safe enough to spend time here.

We're ahead of the game. We have beautiful architecture, a great strategic regional location, terrific performing arts groups (Spindle City Ballet, etc) and lots of empty space for galleries, studios, etc.

[I agree with those who say that more housing is not necessarily the best use of all that space.]

The core question here is: how can all of the different very valid viewpoints expressed on this blog (each of which represents a piece of the puzzle) be synthesized to create the whole package that FR needs????? It would be great to harness all this energy in a coordinated, strategic, intentional way.

Anonymous said...

Ok Anon,

How do YOU suggest we do that???? The FROED and Chamber have been saying that for 25 years now. HOW DO YOU SUGGEST WE DO IT????

Anonymous said...

I hear the frustration in your post, and unfortunately, I don't have a quick answer. I don't know enough about the politics and the brass-tacks mechanics of getting it done ... wish I could be more helpful. I'm from FR (hence my interest in the discussion) but I don't live there anymore. I know I'm a bit of an interloper even commenting, but I thought maybe some outside ideas would be helpful.

The short answer (which I know is inadequate, and I apologize) is to do it yourselves if FROED and the Chamber seem unable to do it. All great innovation comes from the people and the private sector ... good government either facilitates or just doesn't stand in the way.

It just seems to me that you have a great, spirited, smart, creative group of people on this blog ... each of whom, from what I've observed, have good ideas and valid points of view. And I'd love to see you turn all that energy in the same direction rather than arguing among yourselves. You all have the same goal. And this is not a problem that has a monolithic answer.

So ... is there a way to use this virtual tool to do some real-world, hands-on work???

The other thing to remember (and I know this is also hard to hear) is that this kind of change doesn't happen overnight ... and the way to eat an apple is one bite at a time. Today's Providence has been 30 years in the making. Pawtucket's been at it for at least a decade. So ... rather than focusing on grand, long term plans, I think you just need to start.

The first thing I would do is get all of the key constituencies together (some of you, visual and performing artists, restaurateurs, cultural institutions like the library, BCC, historical society, etc.) and create a package and market the living daylights out of it.

Use what you've already got, and keep building. Do a Saturday program. Do a Wednesday night program. Light up the city and give people a road map re: things they can do. It's a small start, but it would create energy and buzz and get something on the 6PM news other than crime. (Don't forget, your target audience ... regional folks with disposable income ... have a somewhat skewed view of FR.) And then keep doing it. Restaurants will come. Artists will come. Tourists will come. And, while you're working on it, everyone who wants to feel better about the city, will.

Sorry I don't have a more direct suggestion. But maybe more conversation will yield a concrete action plan.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your input, you have at least given some suggestions and hopefully something will be done ! I believe that is what the arts people are attempting.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for being so welcoming.

I'm delighted to hear that the arts community is mobilizing along the lines we've discussed. I would reiterate, however, that you really need the whole enchilada ... the broader cultural and educational communities, the public safety leadership, restaurants, transportation and parking, etc. ... all of them need to be involved, and the work has to be coordinated and the process needs to be inclusive. None of the cities that have seen success through a vibrant arts scene have based the work solely on the arts. You need all of the other quality of life elements ... (i.e. housing, safety, varied cultural offerings, diversity, history, etc.) ... to make it work.

If you're serious about making change, and want to transition these great blog-based discussions into real-time action, I suggest that you might want to consider setting up some kind of on-line interactive work tool (like a wiki or even a yahoo group)organized along the lines of the various dimensions of civic life that would create a more dynamic FR, and invite folks to join on-line work groups to explore ideas and plans. If you decide to do that, I for one would be willing to pitch in and try to move the work forward with you. I'm sure many others would as well.

The other thought I'd like to leave you with is that, ultimately, somebody needs to own this kind of initiative ... not an individual, but probably a private-sector organization. Again, I apologize for coming up short on local knowledge ... but is there some kind of multi-platform organization (i.e. not specifically an arts organization) that can honcho this? Or should you create one?

Good luck!

ThirdMate said...

I'd like to suggest The Rise of the Creative Class by Richard Florida, which is on city planners' reading lists all over the country. Check with the Chamber and see if they know about it. My guess is, "No."

"The Arts" are just a piece of a significant part of their economy. Florida's book describes the real creative economy (there's a site) that sustains itself, which differentiates it from what some of the Anonymi call "The Arts," which I guess they think is paintings of seagulls on ashtrays.

The "creative class" is filmmakers, graphic artists, designers, writers, musicians, advertising, jewelry manfacturing, and any number of businesses that generate tax revenue for a city, and elevate its standard of living. They do not need "artist lofts" or "artist colonies" or "arts overlay districts." But they will need retail shops, restaurants, and bars. There's your Renaissance. Pretty simple.

Anonymous said...

ThirdMate ... YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Absolutely ... Richard's work is ALL about the confluence of ingredients that drive creative economies. FR has a lot of the raw material he cites as factors ... diverse population, etc., authenticity, etc.

But other key assets are needed to achieve a critical mass of creative people (in a variety of fields, as you point out, not just "artists" in the old sense of the word) who thrive on the energy of interaction with each other and need a fun, intellectually-stimulating place to live. (Hence the need for restaurants, etc.)

In general, it's important to remember that a core characteristic of the "creative class" (and, actually, of cuspers, Gen X, Gen Y, and Millennials) is integration of work and non-work life ... so the character of the place where they live plays a big role in where they choose to live. So ... culture is important. Coffee shops and bars are important. Music is important. Celebration of diverse ethnic cultures are important. Safe, beautiful outdoor areas are important. Etc.

The conventional discussion of the "arts" in the sense of an arts overlay district, etc. is of value in terms of tourism and feeding the broader "creative class" resident population.

ThirdMate, you're 100% on target re: the need for an integrated effort to create a fertile environment for this kind of growth.

And there WILL be room for growth. The advent of the Internet and a generally more mobile society make it feasible for creative professionals to live just about anywhere they want. And FR's location between NYC, Boston, and PVD make it a natural for creating a creative cluster.

I would highly recommend WHO'S YOUR CITY?, Richard F's latest book, as well. Should be required reading for any city on a recovery mission.

Anonymous said...

PS ... ThirdMate ... "paintings of seagulls on ashtrays" ... LOL!!! Good one!!! :)

ThirdMate said...

That's a lot of punctuation. Gotta be worth something. Thanks for the tip on Who's Your City? I'm still getting through Cities and the Creative Class, where he continues to talk about amenities (of which Fall River can have plenty) and tolerance (of which Fall River has ... some).

See? The creative economy has books and examples from other cities. Fall River doesn't have to reinvent the wheel!

Where's "Leadership SouthCoast" on the creative economy? Although I have friends who have been through those classes, they read Florida on their own. Isn't that group supposed to be cultivating future Captains of Industry?

Good thing we mere deckhands can go to local blogs to discuss the creative economy. Thanks, Lefty! ONCE AGAIN!

Anonymous said...

I believe New Bedford has referenced
Creative Economy.

Anonymous said...

LOL, ThirdMate ... yes, I have been known to go a little overboard with the exclamation points in moments of enthusiasm ;)

I apologize once again for my lack of local knowledge (hence have no opinion re: Leadership Southcoast) but I can tell you that the "Leadership" franchise is not particularly catalytic in the work of most of the cities that have been successful with this. Those groups tend to be more networking-focused than anything else ... but, again, I have no specific knowledge re: Leadership Southcoast.

A key component of this kind of change/growth in a lot of cities is the involvement of one or more local universities. Think Pittsburgh & Carnegie Mellon (Richard F's old stomping ground), Austin & the U of Texas etc.

Again, once this kind of movement gets rolling, it's pretty organic ... at some point momentum takes hold. The hardest part is starting ... and getting the word out.

New Bedford HAS done some good work in this area. You might also want to check out the work of the Worcester Cultural Coalition.

It seems to me that a few of YOU (ThirdMate? Lefty? and I'm sure you've got a few creative friends?) seem well-positioned to get this moving. I'd be happy to keep chatting with you, if you find this helpful.

Anonymous said...

I well acquainted with the upcoming arts scene in Fall River as well as the fact that every boob with a loud voice and no clue in Fall River keeps spouting off with some variant of "the arts won't bring real jobs to Fall River."

There's a MAJOR point that you're missing and like always a lack of explanation or understanding will hold this city back. New Bedford and Pawtucket are just two examples of what can be STARTED by an investment in the arts.

It has to do with making Fall River somewhere people WANT to spend their money. People in this city need to realize that the days of big business-mill employment is OVER and in order to make small businesses, restaurants, shops, galleries, markets THRIVE, Fall River has to be a place people WANT to come to.

New Bedford's downtown reinvested in the arts. Yes, that city still has problems with drugs and crime and poverty and unemployment. EVERY city has those problems. But New Bedford IS working towards a reinvested future, something Fall River NEEDS to be doing instead of waiting for Quaker to magically reclaim the glory it once had as much as New Bedford needed to let go of both the whaling industry and then the fishing industry to a large extent. (The mighty fishermen are not once what they were thanks to over-regulation.)

Have any of you been to downtown NB for one of their aHA! Nights? It DOESN'T just draw locals, it draws from ALL OVER. Those businesses ALL reap the economic benefits of an arts-related event. It's like having a local festival once a month. Don't tell me that the businesses on Main Street wouldn't want to reap the benefits of a monthly arts night that flooded the downtown with people ready and willing to spend money.

Saying that the arts WON'T bring economic benefits to the area is ridiculous and short-sighted.

Bring the artists into Fall River to take up the empty spaces in these old unused mills and storefronts. The artists make Fall River a place people want to come and small businesses will begin to thrive. More small business will come. More jobs. More money. More people. More tax money. More money, better roads and public facilities, more cops and firemen, less crime, better schools and on and on and on.

Anonymous said...

ANON you must be an artist looking for a free meal

No one wants to go to Fall River to look at art.

Instead of trying for a government handout Fall River needs to use this space to generate REAL revenue

Anonymous said...

How? Think those jobs are coming back from China? Keep waiting and doing nothing. That's a much better solution.

Anonymous said...

I think it's unproductive to continue to treat "art vs. commerce" as a zero-sum game. They're not mutually exclusive.

It's true that art isn't the whole cure for what ails FR. It's also true that manufacturing is not coming back. Most importantly, it's true that "art" is a pretty broad category, as ThirdMate pointed out a couple of days ago. Giving FR some standing as a cultural center will attract graphic and industrial designers and other professionals (Richard Florida's "creative class") as well as fine artists.

Here's the thing: FR needs a short-term fix (to bring in some revenue and improve the image of the city) while it addresses its long-term challenges.

As an outsider, it looks like this debate over an "arts district" is making the process more complicated than it needs to be. I don't see anything wrong with creating low-cost opportunities for artists to locate in some of the empty space (storefronts, mills etc) and show and sell their work to both locals and tourists. HOWEVER ... you can't open up one or two galleries and wait for it to happen. You need clusters of studios, galleries, performance spaces, etc ... and some great restaurants ... and eventually, probably, a hotel or two. No one is going to come to FR to go to one gallery.

If you do it right, and promote it right, a buzz will develop about FR as a cultural center. And tourists will start to come. And eventually professionals ... the kind who start companies, who are plugged into the larger (outside FR) economy, etc. will start to think "Oh, this might be a cool place to live."

Which brings us to the long-term issues.

Innovative, smart people who start companies and contribute to the economy want a good educational system ... for their own kids and for the people they hire. Long-term challenge #1. If you don't fix this, you can pursue the tourism angle ... but that's as far as you'll go.

Both residents and tourists want to feel safe. Whoever said a couple of days ago that NB has focused on the arts but still has drugs & crime, is correct. But EVERY city still has those things. What the successful cities have is a level of activity that does NOT involve drugs & crime, so that ... for instance ... you can feel OK in Times Square. (Yes, theoretically you can still have your wallet lifted ... but you're not walking alone down a dark street wondering if you'll be mugged.)

Finally, they want to feel good about where they live or spend their weekends. FR has a major image problem ... in my opinion, somewhat undeserved, actually ... and both tourists and new residents will only go there if that changes.

So ... bottom line, do some short term work in terms of building a small cluster of galleries, restaurants, etc. Market that. Grow it. And in the meantime, work on the long-term challenges that will impact people's decisions to visit or live there.

Again ... you all want the same thing. Work together, rather than fighting each other. The "art vs. commerce" dichotomy is a red herring.

ThirdMate said...

New York still has drugs and crime. Miami has drugs and crime. We also have UMass Dartmouth pumping art and "arts" degreed graduates by the hundreds. Give them a reason to stay, and they will bring you your "clusters." Right now, they're staying in New Bedford because, well, we like it here.

I know a woman who paid for her house by working at a ceramics studio in Dartmouth that employs a dozen people. (The owners have a really nice house themselves.) The owners of a graphic design firm that employs folks in New Bedford. The lady who runs an advertising firm that employs 50 or so in sales, management, and development. The executive directors and CEOs of the New Bedford Art Museum and NB Whaling Museum. All these people are real and they consider themselves part of the creative economy.

None of them gets any handouts from the gubmint. None is "looking for a free meal." They all pay taxes and manage businesses and pay employees. They aren't going to China and they're working harder than ever.

"Waiting and doing nothing." Indeed.

Anonymous said...

Way to go, ThirdMate!!! Once again, you have made my point more succinctly than I.

In addition to providing valuable continuing education re: the character of the "creative class", the heart of your post is your statement re: being in NB because "we like it here." That's it, in a nutshell. FR needs to turn itself into the kind of place where people want to be ... whether they're tourists or residents.

Hey ... here's an idea ... how about starting a "southcoast creative economy" blog where people can share ideas, talk about their work, etc? Might be fun for people who post, and also would model what the creative economy IS for people who aren't in it.

Faye Musselman said...

One of the "anon"s said that "no one's going to come to FR to go to one gallery." That may not true - depending upon the gallery. Towns and cities across America draw tourists with one singular attraction.

For decades and decades people have come to FR for one purpose and on purpose only: Lizzie Borden. They traveled far and near just to see the trial evidence housed at the FR Historical Society, where she's buried and "Maplecroft. The FRHS is a non-profit, and there are no "tickets to the attraction" sold for gawking on French Street or passing through the beautiful arched entrance to Oak Grove on Prospect Avenue. But people go to those 3 places (and, since 1996, to tour inside the B&B at 92 Second Street). Then they go on their merry way off to the New Bedford Whaling Museum or Newport Mansions or whatever the phuck. Oh, maybe they'll take in Battleship Cove, but I'm really talking about those folks who come to FR SOLELY because of their interest in Lizzie Borden.

So if FR had a really spectacular or unique arts exhibit or arts center or artsy-phartsy cultural center that was a compelling bang-for-your-buck kind of attraction...people would come. One gallery, depending upon its content, COULD and WOULD draw people.

But here's what I like toying with on getting Fall River on its revenue streaming pheet: Obama bail-out $$ for renovation and operation of some of the abandoned mills for energy related manufacturing - be it "green" automobiles or wind vanes or whateverthephuck. Fall River is ideal for these businesses - it has amble facilities (with parking), it's a port town, and it has a suitable workforce at the ready. I envision on-going business here - not just a one-time fix-up on a bridge.

It may not be arts related but hey - let the local artists do art work on the exterior of those mills and get paid for it.

Toyota. General Motors. Obama. Are you listening?

Anonymous said...

Hi Faye ... I'm the "anon" who made the "one gallery" comment. (I'm beginning to feel like a semi-regular poster and should probably stop being "anon" ... but I digress.)

OK ... I hear you re: the folks who make the pilgrimage to the Borden house and the Historical Society ... but that's a very specific affinity group.

My point (and it was a minor one in the context of my overall argument) was that ... given FR's image beyond its borders, the lack of coordination in promoting FR's cultural assets, and the relative absence of other amenities (i.e. restaurants etc)... people would be unlikely to choose FR (either as a weekend or permanent destination) with one lone gallery or studio. If MOMA or MassMoca or even the RISD Museum moved to FR, that would be different ... but without major star power, you need a cluster of venues (and a certain activity level) to make it happen. And, certainly, if you want to get creative economy folks to LIVE in FR, amenities are critical. No one-off effort will do it.

I say this not to be a downer, but ... on the contrary ... to help head off false starts. I actually don't think it would be hard to do ... it would just take coordination and will. Two or three new studios or galleries on Main Street, a coffee house, maybe a new restaurant or two, maybe some public performance art, and link it all with the Narrows and Spindle City Ballet and BCC and the Little Theatre ... and VOILA. You could grow from there.

I like your green ideas ... certainly, some industrial repurposing of the mill space would be great, and the next wave is certainly alternative energy solutions. I would like to point out, again, however, that innovators like to live in innovative, active places. So the places that become green energy incubators will be the places that up the ante on lifestyle value.

Anonymous said...

Hi folks ...

check this out:

www.prospectneworleans.org

Very interesting. (FYI: they have a $3.5 million budget.)

Faye Musselman said...

Thanks, "anon" for responding. I do indeed get your point and concur. However, I hear so much nay-saying about FR from "anons" (not you) and little trumpeting about what ARE it's assets. Assets that the City has failed repeatedly to adequately market and promote. Some of that blame goes to other entities beyond the Civic leaders and Council.

Fall River has much to attract tourism if it was promoted properly. But they don't. Fall River has much to attract manufacturing. But they don't. Part of the "attraction" of Fall River lies within its history - the history that still spills forth in all its neighborhoods.

The Narrows is one of the coolest places to go in Fall River and yet its a vitual secret to incoming visitors. The wonderful views from the windows of Battleship Cove and the waterfront; the impressive church pews, the little artsy resident galleries and crafts, and of course the entertainment. But I always get a kick walking around inside and up and down those stairs of any of the old mill buildings.

Fall River should have made a City museum out of one of those long ago. The Boot Museum in Lowel is just a smidgeon of what FR could be.

The recent blog talk here of getting an artist conclave is all well meaning, but moot if you can't combine forces with all other needed entities. The Chamber, the Council, the print media, radio/tv, civic clubs and organizations, schools, etc.

If the Beast is a general malaise you first have to wake up the Beast, hit it over the head and then buy it a dress. ;)

Anonymous said...

Artist's conclave more or less ... already happening in Tiverton, R.I. gave them $15 million more for a farm-based artist community that will run on solar and wind-power. 50 residences I believe, but I only read it quickly.

It's on projo.com.

Anonymous said...

Faye ... you are too much!!! I'm with you 100% ... and I love you for bringing some humor to the party.

You're so right about the malaise ... let's not just buy it a dress, but also a boa and some great shoes and finally A REALLY BIG DRINK :)

Seriously ... there is ABSOLUTELY an underlying sense of malaise/depression/low self-esteem holding FR back. You're so right about some of its best assets being its best-kept secrets.

And some of this is so easily fixed ... absent a kick-a** marketing campaign for FR's cultural assets, one of the reasons the Narrows doesn't get the props it deserves is because if you're not from FR you CAN'T FIND IT. The signage down by the waterfront is awful. (An opportunity maybe???)

Love your observations and ideas re: heritage, aesthetics, etc. and pooling resources to shake things up.

So ... what's next??? How does FR make this happen??? I kinda think "one small step" ... followed by some success ... would get things rolling.

Faye Musselman said...

With all this bailout talk and cities and countries yelping for moola to make parks, fix basketball courts, build aquarians, buy profilactics (sp), yadda yadda yadda...why isnt (or are they?) Fall River council and county reps asking for something? I mean, gee whilikers, like I said, the empty mills with vast parking lots, the ready work force, the waterways - come on...get a clue...NOW IS THE TIME TO PUT YOUR HAND OUT FALL RIVER....Ya wouldn't have to manufacture cars or wind vanes...how about PARTS for those enterprises or others? Sustained employment being my point. Talk about infrastructure for manufacturing facilities...hell, Fall River shines....oh yea, would take $$$ to renovate, rewire, re-plumb, HVAC, safety standards, handicap access, all that stuff...but sheesh.

Stagnant. Fall River's been stagnant in so many ways for so long. Time to move.

How about one of those mills being a University for the Arts...where you not only teach, come to learn, but MAKE THINGS THAT CAN BE SOLD INTERNATIONALLY. Hell. Start with signage. One floor could be dedicated as very low cost child care.

Just do something, Fall River. Do something.
Is ANYBODY writing on behalf of the city for ANY bailout money????

Anonymous said...

Faye, all good advice ... and great audacious ideas.

But is applying for stimulus funds etc. a government function? Is there a way that the private sector or grassroots community can make some of this happen?

My impression is that there's a lot of energy and intelligence on this blog and that people feel a bit frustrated by lack of activity by city leadership.

Should the folks on this blog create an action plan? Or is that anti-blog? I'm conscious that Lefty is our host ... don't know what his vision is.

But I agree ... going Nike (i.e. "just do it") seems to be the way to boot the malaise.

Anonymous said...

A few comments back exactly what the problem is was mentioned: marketing.

Every single aspect of this city that is underutilized suffers from a massive lack of marketing, from the city itself, right on down to the Battleship, Lizzie and the Narrows.

In addition to its arts districting, it's fighting for professional or semi-professional sports teams to play in the city. Again, $$$.

But undoubtedly someone will pipe up with well Fall River's not filled with athletes or ...there's no money in semi-pro sports. NO, but it isn't the athletes who are pushing the economy it's the people who come to see them and stop at a Fall River gas station for gas, a Fall River restaurant for dinner after the game and a Fall River bar for drinks after that.

The top complaint I hear from people outside this area is they can't find anything. So ... make a map. Feature all of the arts-related, restaurant-related, entertainment/recreation-related venues with little different colored dots. NB does it for aHa! nights, the Narrows had it for that open studios event they had. Pass the out to EVERY business included.

Anonymous said...

"But undoubtedly someone will pipe up with well Fall River's not filled with athletes or ...there's no money in semi-pro sports. NO, but it isn't the athletes who are pushing the economy it's the people who come to see them and stop at a Fall River gas station for gas, a Fall River restaurant for dinner after the game and a Fall River bar for drinks after that."

THIS IS WHAT I MEAN BE REAL REVENUE>

The Lowell Spinners are sold out every game. A city like Fall River would be able to bring in REAL $$$ with a minor league team.


NO ART ----- BASEBALL IS THE ANSWER

Anonymous said...

I think there's room in FR for both art and baseball ;)

Seriously ... the secondary gain to FR gas stations, etc. that you so wisely mention happens WHATEVER the reason people come into the city.

First rule of business is always go after the low-hanging fruit first, right? So ... my advice would be to maximize what you already have and grow from there.

I think there's already a rich reservoir of arts & culture & history-related amenities in FR, which ... if marketed in an intentional, cohesive way ... would bring in people and revenue and create a positive buzz about the city. That activity, in turn, would strengthen the city's chances of going after baseball and other possibilities.

Again ... arts programming isn't THE answer. It's ONE answer.

Don't fight over ever-smaller slices of the pie. Grow the pie big enough to feed everyone.

Great discussion, folks. Feels like we're moving the ball down the field.

ThirdMate said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ThirdMate said...

Thank you, Lefty, for letting the cognoscenti (and not-so-scenti) hash this out here. Thanks to Faye and "Anonymous." This is a brilliant forum. Sure beats sniping about PM drive hosts. Hop aboard any time.

Given this region's tradition of relying solely upon one industry, watching that industry collapse, and then dealing ineffectively with the poverty, I agree with the previous commenters' skepticism of going with one gallery or one mill or one single "economic engine." But economics has obviously grown far past the current city administration's comprehension. Leave the gubmint out of it. Say "Thanks for the zoning, now go away." The private sector will always be smarter.

As for baseball: Let's see how the New Bedford Bay Sox do. I'll bet if they stick with it, be patient, it'll be a great addition to the rest of the economy. As long as there is a "rest of the economy."

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Faye Musselman said...

Speaking of sports:

GO CARDINALS!!!! KICK ASS! YAY!!!!!

I just had to get that in - living in Arizona and all. :) :) :)

I moved here from Portland, Oregon right after the Diamonbacks won the Series and holy crap...you'da thought it was the second coming of Jesus Christ. The hype now is overwhelming. It's all they talk about in this podunk town, 80 miles north of Phoenix in the Rim Country (think mini grand canyon.)

So, instead of reading, 'puting, or puttering around the property....I'll be glued to the set.

GO CARDINALS!!!!!

(Calm down, faye. You're waking the dogs.)

P.S. I sent an email to Doug Tweedy at WSAR about how cool it was to sit here at my desk 3,000 miles away and listen to the radio. And gee, I think the Hurricane sounds just fine. LOL!

Faye Musselman said...

ThirdMate: Just read your blog (wonderful writing btw) and your above post of 1/23 re Leadership Southcoast which led me to reading up on that (hey I'm a corporate executive, I'm PAID to waste time....lol) anyway...LSC sounds like a rip off to me. Let me qualify that by saying that my definition of a rip off is anything that does not subsequently provide in-kind value for the cost of its service or product. So I say: Wherever they may be hiding, it may be best not to seek them out. If the people who run that gig were worth their salt - they'da surfaced by now.

Back in the day a handful of founding families ran City Hall, the police, the mills, banks, transportation systems, and had clout with at least one of it's 3 dailies.

Now it's the descendents of the mill workers and carpetbaggers that hold the key positions. But the power lies elsewhere. It sure as hell isn't with the People. Too many hand puppets running Fall River.

But I'm digitalizing to the choir, to phracture a metaphor.

Scout said...

Thank YOU, ThirdMate. And Faye. And of course Lefty, for giving us a place to chat!!!

Now that I've been THANKED (and as I'll no doubt visit with you again :) I guess I should stop being "Anonymous." So ... call me Scout. (As in Jean Louise Finch, for you fellow To Kill a Mockingbird fans.)

This HAS been a great conversation. Hope it continues. Looking forward to our continued discussion ... and, hopefully at some point, action!!! (I agree with ThirdMate re: the role of "gubmint", as I believe I've opined at some point. The spark lies in the private sector; the government's role, in every place where real innovation has taken hold, is facilitation.)

Go Cardinals ;)

Lefty said...

There is so much that has been said here that I agree with. Fall River must start by promoting the strengths it has. People DO come to Fall River. They come to visit Battleship Cove. They come to learn about Lizzie Borden. They come to listen to live music at the Narrows, a location that is now repeatedly mentioned at a best kept secret!

Fall River should look at what the Arts have done for other communities and play a role in making that happen here. But we shouldn’t turn a blind eye to other possibilities. Thirdmate mentions New Bedford’s new baseball team. This is something that both I and FRC suggested months ago as something Fall River should have looked to bring to our city. New Bedford’s gain doesn’t have to be our loss though. There are tremendous promotional tie-ins with the New Bedford Bay Sox and Fall River’s Nokona Bat Factory!

In order for Fall River to realize its potential we MUST believe in that potential!

This has been a gratifying discussion, the type that I hope this blog will continue to promote. I want to thank Scout and Thirdmate, and Faye for what they added to the discussion and say that I hope the discussion continues.

vision said...

fall river was featured on the travel channel on monday night..for its true tourism find, it's portuguese food and culture.
hello mr mirror
do you see your face
are you hiding in perverse disgrace?
or will you understand your place?

Faye Musselman said...

Oregon Representative Frank DeFazio was appearing on C-SPAN on the Congressional hearings on the stimulus package and he says:

"Every town mayor and governor should be submitting their ideas for good use of this money."

God love ya Frankie. HEAR *THAT* FALL RIVER?!!!!

SCOUT said...

Faye, point well taken. (At least by me ;) That and a bag of chips will get you ... I don't know what.

Seriously ... participating in the stimulus might have long-term benefits, as well as the immediate shot in the arm. Incentive is a good thing; money has a way of jump-starting innovation.

Does FR have a comprehensive economic development plan? Presumably ideas re: uses for stimulus funding (i.e. infrastructure, education, community development, arts district, etc.) would come from that.

Also ... it would appear that it would make sense for city leadership to work with the congressional delegation on this. Does that happen?

Please forgive my unfamiliarity with the local landscape ... trying to get up to speed so I can participate intelligently in the discussion.

If the answers to the above questions are "no" ... it would appear that some private sector group (maybe folks on this blog?) should step up with ideas/plans. Of course, city government would still need to pick up the ball and run with it, in terms of official requests and (to some degree) execution of projects.

Anonymous said...

It still appears that the people of Fall River want a free lunch.

You need to get private dollars not public

Give up your Art Colony pipe dream

Anonymous said...

Well, the stimulus $$$ that Faye's talking about wouldn't be about an "art colony." It would be for other things, like education and infrastructure and community development.

And she's right. Every municipality in the country is going after those dollars.

And calling an investment in culture an "art colony" is a little simplistic. It would be about fostering the creative economy in FR, not building some kind of tie-dyed commune which is what your term suggests.

And that kind of investment would bring in private funds (in the form of new visitors and tax-paying new residents and businesses) which are as you say far preferable to continuing dependence on federal and state subsidies.

Anonymous said...

By the way, Anonymous, as you seem opposed to the idea of an "artists colony", what's your proposal? We know what you're against, but not what you're for.

Anonymous said...

Why don't you morons wander INTO an art gallery around here $500 paintings AREN'T free. And the only ones charging that LITTLE are students. The show at the Narrows right now is between $3K and $5K for the paintings. No those artists working in Fall River WON'T be making money for you, they'll be making money for THEMSELVES. Want money? Pick up a brush and learn how to paint.

Seriously this whole city needs a clue.

Starving artists AREN'T starving. GD/sculpture/painting/printmaking/fashion ... EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THOSE PROFESSIONS MAKES MONEY. More money than waiting for mills and industry that WON'T come to Fall River to all of a sudden populate our shores.

I know what will save this city. ...high school basketball. Oh wait ... THAT DOESN'T BRING IN ANY MONEY TO THIS CITY.

Anonymous said...

Looks like the Herald started featuring local artists who work in the city today on one of the covers...it doesn't quite look like that furniture maker is selling his shit for free.

But keep thinking art doesn't equal money.

You know what doesn't equal money, but what Fall River seems to think is the solution?

Big business like Wal-Mart. Good ole Wal-Mart economy in Fall River these days. Everyone shops there all the business in the city close because no one's shopping elsewhere. Then the only place to shop and work is Wal-Mart. No money to shop elsewhere now because you're working for $9 an hour and more businesses disappear ... and so on and so on ... until the city is ...well ... the way it is now.

Anonymous said...

The city does not need SAVING. You people keep looking for the free lunch. This type of development is short term with no lasting benefits. It appears that someone floated this idea and since then everyone is incapable or to lazy to think up something new. They "WILL NOT" come to Fall River for art priced at $3.00 never mind $3,000. You are an old mill town understand that fact and come up with rational ideas

Jason said...

I wonder who Anon 2:38 is. Why do you think they won't come to Fall River for art priced at $3000? I happen to know art goes for that in Pawtucket all the time. They are an old milltown too. In fact, that is one of their positive aspects.

If you want to tell me who you are, I will send you a copy of Pawtucket Rising so you can see for yourself. Just let me know who you are and where to send it.

Jason@FallRiverShow.com

SCOUT said...

The "old mill town" argument is getting really, really old. Every city that's reinvented itself was an old SOMETHING ... and it's successful because it's not that anymore.

* FR was a mill town ... until textiles moved south. (Forty years ago, I might add. Can we all agree to put away the widow's weeds?)
* Newport was a Navy town ... until the fleet pulled out.
* Nantucket was a whaling village ... until the whales were gone.
* Pittsburgh was an old industrial city. Now it's home to tons of productive, creative people who got priced out of Manhattan, then priced out of Brooklyn.

I could go on. But you get the point.

What do the cities that survive have in common? Resiliency. They adapted. And vision and focus. They chose a future and they went after it.

Darwin said that survival of the fittest isn't about who's stronger, it's about who's MORE ADAPTABLE.

Or to paraphrase the old adage:
If you continue to be defined by your past, you are condemned to repeat it.

Or ... to borrow a principle from business: Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.

This war of words choosing between "art" and "non-art" is unproductive and, ultimately, disingenuous.

First, defining art in terms of fine art (i.e. painters) is too narrow a definition. (As ThirdMate said last week, the goal should be getting a piece of the creative economy ... meaning the large community of applied artists who make money, pay taxes, and create companies ... should be the ultimate goal.)

But putting that aside for a moment and focusing just on fine art ... yes. If you offer an interesting, safe, fairly navigable city (with SIGNAGE) and do some marketing, people will OF COURSE come to buy art in FR. But it's ultimately not really about the $3,000 painting. It's about people coming together to create and buy (or not buy) the $3,000 painting.

People will come to FR to make art. And perform. And hang out and have interesting conversations. And the people who come to look, but don't buy ... as well as those who do ... will stop and have lunch and buy gas and maybe do something else while they're in FR, if there's something for them to do.

And then, as the city comes alive, graphic designers and writers and other creative people (who, by the way, make money and pay taxes and contribute to civic life) will come. And eventually, maybe, you will have a software designer who will launch a startup that becomes The Next Big Thing.

It's a process.

People come to cities (either as visitors or as residents) because there's something to do or see, or because they have a sense of belonging. Art (along with education and restaurants and sports, etc.) creates ENVIRONMENT. That's what this is all about.

There's no silver bullet. But art is a catalyst. It's time to stop arguing about it and just do it. (Or, if art isn't your thing, do something else.) Just do something. As the President said last week about the economy, there is no time to waste.

Anonymous said...

I need to go point by point here, because apparently you're really completely deluded anon. 2:38.

"The city does not need SAVING." No jobs, empty storefronts, failing businesses, faulty politicians, faltering schools, growing poverty, worsening drug problems, gangs running amok ... are YOU paying attention?

"You people keep looking for the free lunch."
Who's looking for a FREE LUNCH? I'm not even looking for reduced lunch and neither are the people of this city OR the artists filling these spaces. This is about creating a SUSTAINABLE economy that will enable the city to pay for the schools, roads and sewer pipes in Fall River. It isn't about JUST art. It's about SMALL BUSINESS. Art's just the gateway, but you seem to just keep ignoring the successes of this initiative in countless other cities. It doesn't reap REAL money? Tell that to the shops, restaurants and bars that ALL reap the profits of similar arts communities in Massachusetts and across the country.


"This type of development is short term with no lasting benefits."
10 years. It took a skateboard shop, a few restaurants and a bunch of artists 10 years and downtown New Bedford is reaping the winfall from a monthly arts night and a burgeoning arts scene. There are more than 50 business downtown that are THRIVING despite a terrible economy, but somehow this is fleeting. Somehow THAT money doesn't count. Or are you just saying that somehow New Bedford and Pawtucket are superior to Fall River? Not at all. Except that THEY got to the idea first and have made it work. Art has been around for THOUSANDS of years, but your narrow interpretation of what IS art and complete and utter ignorance of the business of art itself is EXACTLY what hinders this city from being what it should be.

"It appears that someone floated this idea and since then everyone is incapable or to lazy to think up something new." This is a PROVEN economic stimulant. And more importantly since you've got that pious soapbox from which you feel it's productive to call the people trying to make Fall River a better place to live lazy and stupid ... do YOU have a better idea big mouth?

"They "WILL NOT" come to Fall River for art priced at $3.00 never mind $3,000." Funny they're ALREADY coming to the Narrows and Grimshaw-Gudewicz Gallery and Cherry and Webb to buy art. That's a FACT. So either you honestly are just to blindly stubborn or stupid to accept that or you are completely out of touch. Either way, you're not just wrong, you're crowing is actually detrimental to a good thing that Fall River could have. You even contradict yourself. It doesn't need saving but no one's going to come here? Which is it? Either it's a pit no one wants to come to buy even the finest art for $3.00 or it's a fine city that doesn't need saving. Or did that high school basketball quip hit a nerve? I guess they make what $5 a head for those that pay.

"You are an old mill town understand that fact and come up with rational ideas" And rational ideas for a CITY that doesn't need saving would be? So say for a second it does need something, which you seem to believe ... why not try something that's worked in COUNTLESS mill cities and towns across the COUNTRY? You say no. Instead come up with something else? In the meantime we do nothing and the city and its people continue to suffer. It's worked in Kentucky, Virginia, North Carolina, Califonia and Washington State, as well as New York, New Jersey and EVERY SINGLE STATE IN NEW ENGLAND. We have SIX major art schools within an hour of here (RISD, UMassDartmouth, MassArt, Museum School, AIB and New England Arts Institute) accounting for more than 10,000 students. Why not retain them with JOBS. With more than 500 FULL-TIME WORKING artists in Fall River, Somerset, Swansea, Westport, Warren, Bristol, Dartmouth and New Bedford already you're just thumbing you're nose at the industry like it's illegit and it's NOT. Why not FILL those mills with artists and shops and business? WHY is that a bad idea? Why not make Fall River's downtown/main street arts district into a place people WANT to come to walk and shop. Like Newport, like downtown Providence, like Pawtucket... now at this point, I'm convinced you can't be this deluded, so you must think I'm making up the successes. ...Lying for some liberal agenda I have. So here's some proof of where it's worked.

Pawtucket
(http://www.pawtucketri.com/arts/plan/)
New Bedford (http://www.ahanewbedford.org/partners.html),Lowell (http://www.cultureiscool.org/cultural-scene-overview)

Paducah, Kentucky
http://www3.courierpress.com/news/2007/Aug/5/paducah-in-midst-of-creative-revival/
**********BE SURE TO READ THAT ONE************
The artists have brought $21 MILLION into the town. No profit eh?

Bellows Falls, Vermont. (http://www.boston.com/travel/explorene/vermont/articles/2008/04/16/the_way_it_was/)

I could link to 20 other cities and towns across the country where this HAS worked. But I've spent enough time on your ignorance.

Thankfully the majority of people in this city aren't like you. It's already STARTING to work in Fall River, but it's people like you anon. 2:38, that will undoubtedly ALWAYS hold this city back.

Anonymous said...

BASEBALL IS THE ANSWER?

Someone can you please tell whoever it was that said that ... that Pawtucket also has a baseball team and has for quite some time. They're They're called the Paw Sox maybe you've heard of them? They're a legit AAA team well above any single A team this town could pull and somehow the city still needed the arts when all the mills closed. Huh? That couldn't be right. Baseball is the answer. Wow that's weird.


There isn't one answer here. There are many. Baseball, football, soccer, basketball, music, bars, shops, theaters, museums, galleries and restaurants.

Maybe it's the use of the word art. It's entertainment in all it's forms.

SCOUT said...

Anon 8:42: WOW. That's all I can say. WOW. Great stuff.

And Anon 9:10: More great stuff! And I like the inclusiveness of your post.

I do think there's room for other things besides the arts, for people whose passions lie elsewhere. (Like ... for instance ... people who want sports teams could look into development of open space, bike paths in the north end of the city, etc. Equally important amenities for attracting creative class folks.)

I think a fundamental problem here is that, for people who aren't artists or in the creative fields, or aren't in economic development, "the arts" means "fine arts" or "arts & crafts." (Both of which are economic engines ... but, as I think we agree, are also of relevance to FR as catalysts to a broader quality of place goal, which would in turn attract a broader class of creative professionals who will contribute to or create the next generation of industry.) Fine arts and artists are not part of everyone's everyday experience ... and are therefore, perhaps, suspect ...?

So ... may I make a suggestion? Can we (for the purposes of our discussion) refer to "culture and entertainment" and "creative economy" ... instead of "the arts"? It seems that "the arts" is a misunderstood term and somewhat of a hot button for some folks.

There's also a phenomenon where a term gets "tired" when it's overused but underdefined ... or becomes mired in inertia and ennui ... and, unfortunately, I think that's happened in FR with "the arts."

So ... can we start a new dialogue, using new, more precise language?

Anonymous said...

MAN ARE YOU GUYS LAZY

I am sick and tired of the artist utopia that Fall River is trying to create. Stop feeding at the trough of public money. I have never seen a city whine more because the FREE money has not come their way.

THE COUNTRY IS BROKE
THE STATE IS BROKE
YOUR CITY IS BROKE

If you can fund your utopia with 100% private money then go ahead if not then get your hand out of my back pocket and come up with real revenue ideas

Anonymous said...

What about you, Anon 11:47?

What's in YOUR head? Do you have an idea, or do you just object to the arts solution?

And BTW ... yes, a lot of this can in fact be done through private investment, maybe with a minimal investment of public funds and minimal interference from government.

That's how private enterprise (galleries, restaurants, and all the other elements of this kind of community) works. You get out of its way and let it grow.

So, have at it, Anon 11:47. Tell us your idea. Maybe we'll help you think it through and make it happen.

Anonymous said...

Somehow either you think that $21 MILLION dollars in revenue ISN'T real revenue or, which is more likely, you can't read ...
http://www3.courierpress.com/news/2007/Aug/5/paducah-in-midst-of-creative-revival/



I know if you're so dead set against real revenue being created in this city. Then get out and go pay taxes somewhere else.

Somehow you think that bars, restaurants and viable small businesses aren't viable sources of revenue?

Where do you actually think revenue comes from? Or do you think those empty storefronts are a good thing for Fall River?


If you ever want to really know the PROBLEM with Fall River ... look in a mirror.

Anonymous said...

If you can't offer a solution you are part of the problem. Where do you suggest we look for revenue?? Manufacturing???

Anonymous said...

I know ... whaling, maybe cotton gins, typewriter repair shops?

Clearly a multi-faceted approach that includes developing the city as a cultural destination for consumers IS a great way for Fall River to move forward.

Anonymous said...

OK, so how much effort would it really take to get a website up for the AOD that could be very simply flyered for the cost of the copies at the six art schools in the area? I'm sure there are plenty of people willing to do it for free or very low cost. You could go to the BCC Graphic Design department and have them give the site as a real world assignment for their web designers.

Additionally, would it be incredibly difficult to organize a monthly art event in the city with the Narrows, Cherry and Webb, the artists working in the city, the restaurants/bars like Cafe Arpeggio, Waterstreet, Sky, Trio, St. James, the other shops, businesses and beauty salons/spas downtown, asked if they want to be included? Have some kind of fire on the water thing during the nicer weather like in Providence, do it near the Battleship. Have street performers down on the boardwalk. It's all simple and relatively cheap, it just needs to be planned and executed.

I think all it would take is the OK from the city to do it, advertising for the event and the businesses to participate. That's not an insurmountable amount of work. And MANY cities, including New Bedford have been able to do this completely through private sponsorship. And of those sponsors, Bank of America, Domino's Pizza, Lees Market,
Southcoast Hospitals and Sovereign Bank would also undoubtedly sponsor any event in Fall River. There are others that would just have to be asked. And we're not talking a huge amount of sponsorship anyway, something I'm sure they'd trade for the extra advertising. Then just send the event to all of the newspapers and websites that cover the mass and ri arts scenes.

Anonymous said...

"What's in YOUR head? Do you have an idea, or do you just object to the arts solution?"

I never claimed to have an answer I only know that a publicly funded waste of my tax money artist colony will NEVER work.


"a lot of this can in fact be done through private investment, maybe with a minimal investment of public funds"

Rember I said 100% private. DO NOT SPEND MY TAX DOLLARS ON SOMETHING THAT WILL NOT WORK

People of Fall River remeber the big dig that was suppposed to work too. The ceiling will come down on your artist colony too. You needs A-B-C before X-Y-Z. Fall River is not a A list city start small with selfsustaining projects before you steal other people's TAX MONEY

Anonymous said...

You're a douchebag. I wish you would pull up stakes and get the hell out of Fall River. It is people like you who make this city into a piece of shit. This city has so much potential, what it has that is keeping it back, is people like you.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 9:48, if you don't want other people to decide what to do with your tax money you better come up with your own proposals.

Something's going to happen, whether it's an arts district or not, and if you do nothing but stand on the sidelines and criticize I guarantee you'll be unhappy with whatever it is. And if nothing happens, and the city continues on its current path, more and more of your tax dollars will be "stolen" (your word) to pay for city services that can't be sustained with a shrinking tax base.

Addressing your concern (which seems to be that such an effort would be a giant sinkhole where your tax dollars would disappear)let me tell you that this kind of effort has worked in scores of cities across the US. Several posters have given concrete examples. And it's been done, for the most part, with private funds. When I referenced "minimal investment" I meant pretty much in-kind contributions from the city, like tax credits and help securing federal grants. I don't think anyone is suggesting that Fall River pour public funds into it.

Finally, this is a pretty small-scale effort. Comparing what's being discussed on this blog to the Big Dig is crazy.

SCOUT said...

Bravo to the person who suggested the integrated promo effort ... you're right, it's eminently doable and would no doubt show some results.

I would just offer a few recommendations:

1) Some back-end coordination is needed among the venues to pull it off seamlessly ... not just promo on the front end. That's where a lot of the work will be.

2) I'd be careful about replicating Providence (or any other city) too closely. You don't want to be painted as a "Providence wannabe" ... otherwise, why would people choose to come to FR instead of Providence? FR has lots of unique attributes ... use them to differentiate. (BTW ... WaterFire is actually a proprietary art installation owned by the artist who invented it, and supported by a nonprofit organization ... so it actually CAN'T be legally replicated. And it's surprisingly complex, in a logistical sense, so it would be hard to replicate.)

3) In addition to coordinating among the venues, some work needs to be done with signage, maps, etc. around the city to help people get around. FR can be hard to navigate for non-natives.

Good thinking! Hope it continues!

Anonymous said...

i know of a group of people working with the city to create a fire museum in an old fire station on n.main st. the idea was to display the fire history of fall river, offer public safety classes to children and adults and to memorialize fall river firefighters who have died in the line of duty. this project will include the complete restoration of the building back to its 1876 look. it will also include a gift shop and snack shack. one idea for the gift shop was to include locally made arts and crafts as well as fire trinkets etc. to me, when i heard of this plan it seems to fit the profile of " a small cog in a big wheel " or part of the big picture of rebuilding fall river.

SCOUT said...

Fantastic!

Think about all the different constituencies the fire museum would attract ... kids, adults with a taste for history, people who are interested in firefighting, etc. (You could also take the opportunity to talk about living conditions for people at different stages of the city's past ... making history come alive.)

The fire museum would ABSOLUTELY be part of a larger culture and entertainment plan for FR ... along with galleries, restaurants, and the amenities that are commonly considered part of an "arts district." I encourage you to think of this effort as including anything that makes people think, feel, or experience ... i.e. art, theater, history, sports, etc.

FR's heritage (from historic experiences like the fire museum, to the textile mills, to the stories of the various ethnic groups, to Lizzie Borden in the context of the broader Victorian experience) is its most powerful asset.

I also think that, subliminally, celebrating the historic greatness of FR would help create a sense of pride and self-determinism in FR, which would in turn build confidence and generate the kind of innovation that will fuel future growth.

Faye Musselman said...

Scout - you said: "FR's heritage (from historic experiences like the fire museum, to the textile mills, to the stories of the various ethnic groups, to Lizzie Borden in the context of the broader Victorian experience) is its most powerful asset.

I also think that, subliminally, celebrating the historic greatness of FR would help create a sense of pride and self-determinism in FR, which would in turn build confidence and generate the kind of innovation that will fuel future growth."

You are so dead on. However, FR keeps neglecting all that - the heart of it's historic appeal, which translates to tourism dollars.

A good example is the new Superior courthouse directly across the street from the Lizzie Borden B&B. (See http://www.faainc.com/Portfolio/AllType/tabid/329/Fall%20River%20District%20and%20Superior%20Courthouse/tabid/235/Default.aspx)

An architectural design accepted by the city with zero regard to the historic location on which it sits. Already running 6 months off schedule for completion and costing twice what was originally estimated in its cost, this structure COULD HAVE been a functional monument to Fall River's downtown history.

Fall River just seems to repeat its errors when it comes to new buildings (i.e., city hall). But I have an idea.

Convince the Chief Justice for Administration & Management Robert A. Mulligan, Commissioner David Perini and his team at the Division of Capital Asset Management, District Court Judge Gregory Flynn, Special Advisor for Capital Projects, Finegold Alexander & Associates, Dimeo Construction, the Court Capital Projects team and the city of Fall River to let local artists paint the exterior with scenes of Fall River history.

I find it amusing that while the Bristol County Superior Court will be marking its 150th anniversary with re-enactments of historic cases, its stays relatively silent on the design of their edifice.

Nonetheless, I see an opportunity for local artists to make a contribution to the exterior "look and feel" of this structure rather than the citizens settle for just another grey concrete and glass box.

SCOUT said...

That's a cool idea, Faye!

Also, I don't know what the landscaping around the building will look like, but maybe there's something that can be done in the way of sculpture to create an evocative and uplifting environment.

[This is really half-baked ... but I keep thinking that there's something deliciously ironic about the courthouse being located so close to the scene of The Crime of the 19th Century. Surely there's a tie-in somewhere!]

I love the fact that you're looking for solutions, rather than throwing your hands up in despair. (The definition of resilience!)

While I'm with you 100% re: the imperative to reflect heritage in new architecture, I do think that unfortunate circumstances such as this can serve to highlight the antiquities in our midst. Most cities have their fair share of ugly buildings ;) and, in my experience, one of the most fun things about exploring a new city is finding the little hidden gems that have somehow survived.

As you know, this is an area where the private sector can have significant impact. Nationwide, preservation efforts are championed by activist citizenry who advocate successfully with municipal governments. It would be great if a critical mass of folks with political sway and significant resources, as well as an interest in preservation, could move heritage up a few notches on FR's public agenda.

In the meantime, I think initiatives like the fire museum and the arts district will move the ball down the field in the right direction.

Speaking of moving the ball ... sorry about your Cardinals :( But how about Bruce at halftime??? :)

Faye Musselman said...

Scout - I doubt there was any citizen involvement/input as to the architectural design of the new courthouse. If there was, shame on them.

What I envision is a series of individual murals, collages, by various local artists depicting the history of Fall River with images of founding family icons, the Quequechan River, the mills, mill workers, relevant newspaper headlines with partial articles, how main street looked in the 1870's, 1950's, etc. - all on the front side of the building. The back side could include how the Borden house looked in 1892, the street itself at the turn of the century....all murals signed by artists and a plague in front with their names. This could be iconic to Fall River, another tourist drawer -- something different, dramatic and relevant, something to be proud of.

It's not a unqiue idea....hundreds of structures across the country have allowed artists to paint murals on its buildings....the City of Long Beach (CA) Convention & Entertainment Center (Arena) comes to mind. Google it.

And this would NO COST to Fall River. Artists reward in lieu of compensation would be having their names forever on the building associated with their work. It could start a buzz in the region and draw people to the city just to take a look.

You know, another one of Fall River's secrets are the Kuss Middle School murals painted by John Mann around 1936 as a WPA project depicting Fall River's history from the Indian era to the era of the cotton mill. So wonderful and so out of public view.

What I envision is similar to what Mann did.

SCOUT said...

I think your mural idea is fabulous, Faye!

You're right ... it's a tactic that's growing in popularity across the US. It's almost becoming a genre.

LOVE the Long Beach one. Pittsburgh's done some cool stuff too, with these awesome huge murals painted on the "back ends" of rowhouses that are left when the "connecting" building is demolished. The particulars are escaping me, but I think there's an artist there who involves kids in the work ... it's a great art and community pride project, and also a youth enrichment opportunity and an alternative to tagging. (May be relevant here ... because you KNOW there's already a spray paint can somewhere that's hearing the call of all that virgin concrete.)

[BTW ... apologies for being unclear ... I didn't mean to imply that citizenry had a voice in the new courthouse ... just saying it would be great to have a powerful, activist preservation group in place to respond to future construction projects.]

So ... what does everyone else think of Faye's mural idea? Is there a way to make it happen?

Anonymous said...

The waterfire thing ... it can be replicated. It just can't be called waterfire and can't be replicated exactly. To quote Tim Gunn ... we'd need to make it our own.
Some other city/town in R.I. just fought this battle and were told to stop calling it waterfire. The result being Barnaby Evans owns the name of "Waterfire" and the specifics of how it's done in Providence. He doesn't however own the rights to water-based bonfires. We could call it something like Burning on the Boardwalk or River Blaze at the Battleship.

My point was not to copy what's being done in other cities, just that ... there are more than SIX local gallery nights around here, Newport, Bristol, NB, Providence, etc. we should be doing SOMETHING other than just talking about it. Nothing happens without actions. Aha! Night is particularly useful as an example of what we need to be doing in Fall River, because while there ARE established galleries, there are other non-art businesses who a reaping benefit. By no means do I think Fall River should be pushing out copy cutter events. It should expand upon what works for the city itself and its resources.

For example ... why not get together with the Lizzie folks, sites in the city and correlate between them, the arts and the businesses downtown and have a Lizzie Borden fest. That could be the first event.

Anonymous said...

Didn't mean to rain on your parade, Anonymous 1:08. Def agree that Fall River needs to coordinate its arts and culture activities, and the gallery night model is a good one.

Speaking to your point about so many gallery nights and other events going on: that's why I think it's important for Fall River to be original and creative in its approach. In order to bring in non-Fall Riverites, you need to be able to give them a good reason to come to Fall River (instead of, say, Newport or Providence.)

My points re: replicating WaterFire were three-fold.

First, there is the trademark issue with Barnaby Evans. Not sure you can (or should try to) get around it by doing a similar event and just calling something else. There's something distasteful about Fall River positioning itself as an arts center by copying the work of artists.

Second, WaterFire in its current form is indeed quite a logistical undertaking, involving braziers permanently installed in the rivers, scores of volunteers feeding the fires, speakers installed under the bridges to pipe in music, etc. It costs about $10K for a full lighting.

Third, and most important: it's been done already. Fall River needs to offer new, different experiences, not copy other cities' events.

Maybe your Lizzie Borden theme is a good one to explore. It's certainly uniquely Fall River.

Faye Musselman said...

To Anon 1:57 and Scout: I don't know anything about Waterfire, but I agree that a copycat event is counter-productive to showcasing FR's uniqueness. Event planning, execution and management entails common elements and contact entities. The event "concept" and manner in which its executed is what gives its originality.

I used to work for the City of Portland in the Bureau of General Services, Facility Services. All city-owned buildings
were our responsibility for maintenance, security and to some extent, operations. This included the Police Bureau and its 7 precincts, common areas of two shopping malls with its multi-level parking garages and elevators, 14 city office buildings including the Portland Building and City Hall.

Between 1995 and 1998, we did a $35 million restoration on the historic City Hall, built in 1895. It was an incredible transformation with "birdcage" style elevators, a huge atrium, an incredible council chamber, lots of public meeting space. I came up with the idea to rent out the facility to citizens for private parties, receptions, weddings, etc. You know, "it's YOUR City Hall - use it." Even with very low rental fees, we took in enough money the first 6 months pay for the $150,000 state of the art multi-purpose screen in back of where the Mayor and Council sit. The usage was such a success we even passed an ordinance that allowed for consumption of alcoholic beverages on the premises for these "special events". Soon we were booking local businesses with Christmas parties, i.e., casino nights. In City Hall. Yes. City Hall. The money rolled in. Even did some high school senior proms. It wasn't a hard sell to (at the time) Mayor Katz because she was taking a lot of flak for that $35M expenditure so the pitch of "It's YOUR City Hall - Use it" along with the prototype marketing material sold her the idea and subsequently brought dividends beyond our imagination.

Now Fall River may not have a suitable City Hall and I'm not relating this for comparisons of like facilities - rather to evoke thinking of "event concept". So many viable ideas have been floated here lately but no one's outlined a preliminary "plan". You all seem to know the basic elements and contacts...seems to me the type of event, scope and duration should be nailed down. A one or two day affair? A weeklong affair? An ongoing annual event? For what purpose? What would be the goals and objectives?


I suggest a general outline be started.














































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































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Anonymous said...

I think we're partially getting hung up on the linguistics of events.

Why not do submersible lighting in the water along the boardwalk or some other grandiose interactive sculptural attractions (the scale of waterfire, not the specifics.) I say like waterfire, not to further the argument started by anon 1:08 above, but only in that it's an event on the water or along the water and Fall River not only has a useable waterfront, but also two three major attractions right down on the water with the battleship, the carousel and the Narrows at the heart of it all.

So applying Faye's post to this idea...

1. One night event monthly May to November. (The other months would be weather-problematic.) With gallery nights in Newport and New Bedford the 2nd Thursday, and the 3rd Thursday in Providence, why not do the first Thursday of every month.Fridays and Saturdays have too much competition.)
I'd say 5 p.m. start is a must so that we can catch people as they leave work and travel through Fall River. Finish at 9?
2. Purpose
To bring people down to the waterfront for a monthly integrated arts event that will help to develop Fall River's standing as an arts friendly community.
a. To bring people into nearby businesses.
b. To create a standing economic draw for the city's businesses.
c. To enhance a partnership between existing businesses and artists in the city.
d. To draw new businesses into the now vacant storefronts in downtown Fall River.
e. To attract artists and art-related businesses into the arts district.


3. Goals
a. Make Fall River an arts destination for people and businesses.
b. Make this event a top draw on it's own.

4. Objectives
a. Define the area this event is going to include. Just the waterfront/narrows to start or all of downtown?
b. Make a list of all the current businesses in the participating area.
c. Figure out what participation means for these businesses. Free admission? Drink/dinner specials? Theme participation? Will they display art? Are they willing to host live events related to the event?
d. Contact all the area businesses to see if they're willing to participate. Open during the slotted time or they're willing to be open if they're not.
e. Do a call for artists for the sculptural exhibit in waterfront park/along the boardwalk. List it with all the local schools and colleges, all of the galleries, studios, etc. craigslist, the herald, arts magazines if there IS any money involved for advertising.
f. Do a call for street performers, etc. We're not talking headlining acts with stage set-ups, necessarily, maybe some of the participating businesses and bars have stage spaces, but for the street acts, I'm thinking strolling musicians, jugglers, yo-yo folks, fire breathers, etc.

...I'll continue on more later. Have to give a friend a ride to the train station.

Scout said...

Anonymous 3:23: Way to go!!!

I stopped by just to share this little creative economy nugget from the NYT with you all:

http://travel.nytimes.com/2009/02/01/travel/01surfacing.html?em

... only to find oh so much going on :)

Faye: too funny that the above NYT piece is about "the other Portland" (not yours) ... but kudos to you on your brilliant project on the Left Coast! I knew you were one smart chickadee from your posts, but that's really impressive.

Now back to the stellar Anonymous 3:23, who so beautifully accepted your challenge of starting a strategic outline:

I am with you 100%! Bringing brief, focused, and authentically fun and creative events to the waterfront would absolutely be a way to jumpstart this work and begin to make a name for FR as a destination. (With the added benefit of good potential for fairly quick success, which will inspire the local community to get on board.) Manageable scale, good promotion, and (with your help) great planning ... all the ingredients are there!

[Very impressive planning by the way. The way to get good answers is to ask good questions.]

I love all of your ideas re: jugglers, street performers, etc. ... as well as more organized performances. Think Mallory Square in Key West, or the Yachting Center in Newport. Yes. Yes. Yes.

Is there a way to perhaps start with a smaller, self-contained Thursday night gig on the waterfront ... gather some momentum ... and then expand out to the Narrows, Main Street, etc. in an intentional way? I'm thinking that all of FR's venues and attractions should be promoted to the waterfront crowd from day one ... but maybe there could eventually be a trolley loop or a mapped route that takes people around the city?

Good for you in redefining the issue re: the WaterFire semantics. I agree with Faye and the previous poster that it would not serve FR well to create an art installation too similar to Providence's event. (And, as I think someone pointed out, that might be legally problematic anyway.) There is also, as someone mentioned, the issue re: presenting a new arts initiative but seeming derivative. Kind of shooting yourself in the foot. To make this work, FR needs to seem fresh and new ... not Providence Lite.

But I agree with you that there's SO much that can be done on the waterfront and in the harbor in terms of lights, sculpture (either permanent or traveling exhibits) etc.

I have to run, but will do some more work on this as well. Looking forward to thinking with you all.

How fun is this??? Thanks, Lefty, for creating this forum. Happy anniversary!!!

Anonymous said...

The Newport Yachting Center and the Thames St. area in Newport in general are very good areas to look at for the types of businesses I think Fall River needs to try and attract.

There's a solid mix of museums, art galleries, bars, restaurants, music stores, boutiques, historical and natural landmarks ... plus don't forget, major events almost weekly throughout the high season.

The Newport Yachting Center is a huge part of that because it serves as not only a musical attraction, like the Narrows can, but it's also an outdoor attraction as well and that's really part of the novelty of those concerts. Another thing that they have is winter programing with that outdoor ice skating rink they have. ...in fact, didn't Kennedy Park used to have an ice rink in the winters? What happened to that?

Scout said...

Absolutely, Anonymous 9:21 ... Newport's a great model to look at.

Diverse activities, as you pointed out ... at all price points, BTW. You can buy a Tshirt and a hot dog or you can buy real art ... all within a few blocks. (You can also go to a restaurant or bar ... with live music ... or take your dog to the vet. In the same neighborhood.) The formal programming at the Yachting Center is also diverse ... ranging from chowder cook-offs to sunset concerts.

Newport also has a year-round creative community that thrives in a rich environment. [One cautionary note: it can be expensive for artists to live & work there. This work isn't a panacea ... unfortunately, all cities have socioeconomic challenges to some degree.]

Newport also leverages its history and heritage beautifully, as we all know.

Finally, and I think most importantly ... it's useful to note that the Newport of today didn't exist 40 years ago. Vision and hard work created it.

For instance, the mansions were falling into disrepair before a focused private-sector effort was made to save them and turn them into the attractions that they are today.

And the Yachting Center is located on America's Cup Avenue, which didn't exist in its current form until the Navy pulled out. City leaders ... in both the private and public sectors ... faced down crisis, got creative, and got busy. And look what happened.

Look what's possible, FR.

So what's next? How can we put this in motion?

Faye Musselman said...

Just read these posts from the last 2 days. Wow! Fantastic specific event/exhibit ideas! And wonderful thinking on pre-planning. Frankly, I’d love to see a major event on a grandeur scale with planning that encapsulates all major “draws” to FR as previously discussed:

“The Fall River XXX Event”

Brief description:

“A three-day event to showcase Fall River’s unique history through its architecture, ethnicity, culture and art and to showcase its business opportunities for future economic development.”

EVENT PRE-PLANNING

I. Determine Dates & Multiple Venue Sites (lots of coordination required)
Once you nail down dates and sites you can:

II. Solicit Sponsor-Participants:

1. Chamber of Commerce
2. Battleship Cove
3. Maritime Museum
4. Fall River Historical Society
5. BMC Durfee High School
6. Bristol Community College
7. Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast
8. Fall River Little Theater
9. Heritage Park
10. City of Fall River
Fall River Police Dept
Fall River Library
Oak Grove Cemetery
Fall River Fire Department
Fall River Parks & Recreation
Tourism
11. The Narrows
12. Greater Fall River Art Association
13. Civic and Other Clubs
a. Kiwanis
b. Rotary
c. Masons
d. YMCA
e. CYAO
f. Church organizers

14. WSAR
15. Fall River Herald News
16. Fall River Preservation Society
17. Economic Development Commission
18. Fall River Humane Society


III. Formation of Working Committee & Advisory Committee

1. Working Committee – the doers (minimum 12 people formed into Chairs & Co-Chairs)
2. Advisory Committee – (Civic and Business Leaders who will provide support and guidance but have no policy or event operations authority.)

IV. Assignment of AOR’s (Areas of Responsibility)

1. Venue Citing (includes any routing for parades, tours, i.e., cemetery, historic downtown, standard tourist locales, H.S. and college, Historic Highlands, etc.)
2. Access Control (includes any badges, i.e. event staff or token ticketing)
3. Ticketing – (design, pricing, collection, reconciliation, on-line sales, etc.)
4. Permits, licenses & fees (facility fees, merchandise sales, parking, security (i.e., police), etc.
5. Public Relations
6. Media Relations
7. Advertising and Marketing
8. Accommodations
9. Venue “look”, logo, signage, banners, tents, booths, directional signs
10. Participant space and equipment needs
11. Scheduling of Events
12. Website (design, webmaster, outreach, ticketing, etc.)
13. Hospitality
14. First Aid
15. Transportation & Parking
16. VIP swag bags
17. Event set-up
18. Event tear-down

The number and types of participants will dictate special needs, permitting, as well as drive the event calendar. Each one of the 17 items listed, and it is a preliminary list at best, requires planning coordination with all others.

For example, if the 3 day event were to include a Business Opportunity Symposium at the BCC auditorium with local business leaders, how would you entice such leaders to participate? What topics would they mutually enjoy discussing and fielding questions on? How would you get interested business leaders outside of Fall River to attend?

If you had 3 days of art/artist displays where would this be held? If at multiple locations/venues how would you schedule?

Anyway, I just thought I’d take all the ideas and put it into a BIG EVENT. Doesn’t have to be. But the the point is…..it’s all in the planning. And before you can play you have to decide on what you want to do, i.e., achieve.

I see there are more than a couple of the "Anons", as well as Scout, Tom Paine, etc. who are savvy and enthusiastic enough to get this rolling! :)

Anonymous said...

These are all great ideas some have even been tried to some extent i.e. Fall River Celebrates America but you have to remember where you are and who you are dealing with FALL RIVER!!. Things are different here . You can`t get the local politicians,Chamber of Commerce to commit to anything that would require effort and above all money.Places like Newport,Pawtucket are succeeding because many of the venues are subsidized by local, state and federal taxes. We only subsidize low rent housing in Fall River. An above post mentioned the painting of murals on the new courthouse. This idea has been put forward already by Arts United and has already been shot down by the Chief Justice. Last August The Lafayette Durfee House www.lafayettedurfeehouse.org and the Friends of Heritage State Park co sponsored an event at the park to honor the 230th anniversary of the Battle of Fall River. A few articles were written about it in the Herald News and Fall River Spirit. Jason Camimiti was there as well.Many organizations were involved including the Battleship, Lizzie Borden House B&B, FR Historical Society, Marine Museum and the Transportation museum and the L-D House. All these places waived their usual fees for the weekend. The City did provide for a trolley to take visitors around to the different sites but the sponsers had to pay for the driver. Inside the Visitors Center at Heritage State Park Representives of the Fall River Fire Museum, Preservation Society,Freinds Oak Grove Cemetary all had displays plus all the museums mentioned previously had displays. There were about 70 reenators camped out in the park plus two small 18th century sail boats that came from Long Island NY. The event was marginally attended by the public. On Saturday night at about 2AM several drunks from the Regatta strolled over to the encampment and started making trouble but were forced to leave when they realized that they were outnumbered and out gunned. At about the time that this was happenning two people were getting shot not far from the encampment.Again as a result of the Regatta.Needless to say this made the reenactors very nervous and they will probably never return to Fall River in the future plus they most likely have told others not to come here as well. Another thing unique to Fall River is that any event better have ties to the Portuguese Community if it is to be succesful. If the Portuguse can't relate to it then they will not atatend. I hate to be negative but this is just the way it is and until the people of Fall River vote in new politicians with actual vision plans instead of the the same old faces, nothing will change. Fall River has tremendous potential for everything that has been mentioned here but I don't see it happenning soon.

Jason said...

Ha, I didn't know my attendance at events was something remarkable. I did attend this event, and I did some filming. The film I took didn't come out as I'd had liked that day, but I may use it in the future.

As for the event, I remember the shooting at the Regatta that weekend. That is a very unfortunate series of events. For it to happen during this event was even more unfortunate.

The event was very well put together. I've been to many historic reenactments, and this had elements from many different reenactors/living history experts. I saw a covered wagon there, which I can't recall ever having seen before. I've certainly never seen period ships at these. So it did have a lot to offer.

The thing about these re-enactments, living history events, is that they are very well attended by people from outside the community. It will probably take several years to build up the audience for one, but you could have a nicely done battle reenactment right there on the water. You could even have a boat or two join in with deck cannons. These events happen all over the country. Most of the events I've been to have been very well attended, and bring people into a city for a weekend.

I would like to see something like this take off for Fall River.

Faye Musselman said...

Okay, pholks. You better get serious to make it happen. First things first:

LEFTY FOR MAYOR!!

I'm serious.

Scout said...

Jason: great feedback. Agree with everything you said.

Faye: you are SMOKIN, girlfriend! (and I don't mean in the Michael Phelps sense ;) How fantastic would it be to realize your vision??? I think it's probably a few years away, but if FR got some of those VERY manageable Thursday night events under its belt, it would definitely be achievable.

Anonymous 11:25: Thank you for your post. I appreciate your pragmatism and I feel your pain in seeing the possibilities but also the limitations. I offer the following response: although everything you said is true, I think your points really lead us back to this Thursday night event idea that was floated a couple of days ago:

1) A one-night event for a few hours would be less taxing for public safety officials than a 2- or 3-day event, and would leave the event less vulnerable to the effects of weekend "revelry" at the Regatta, etc.

2) First rule of marketing is repetition: if you do five Thursday night events, and one is not so hot (or, God forbid, there's something like a shooting nearby again) but the other four are great, you've made some headway toward building image.

3) Image is a BIG hurdle for bringing out-of-town folks to FR. Most of what's in the regional media is about crime, etc. and there's very little promoted (again, outside the city) about the FR's heritage, its beautiful architecture, etc. An incremental drumbeat of buzz about these great Thursday night events would help that.

4) There are a lot of people who are just not up for a big, weekend-long extravaganza ANYWHERE ... but they'd come to a smaller, weeknight offering.

5) Speaking to your point re: lack of support from Government: actually, the city of Newport puts very little $$ (if any) into this kind of work. It's mostly all private sector. Granted, they have a head of steam behind them and there's a bigger business community, and the business community is more invested due to past success ... but you could start small and grow. EVERYWHERE THIS WORK IS HAPPENING, IT'S NOT HAPPENING BECAUSE OF GOVERNMENT.

6) Speaking to your point re: needing to incorporate a Portuguese element, etc. ... I think it's fine to include a Portuguese theme (part of what's great about FR is its ethnic character)but that's NOT so important to folks from outside the city, who should be your primary audience. The idea is to bring in NEW people, NEW tourist revenue in the short term, and hopefully NEW investment revenue in the long term. To do that, you have to create events that will appeal to a broader audience and MARKET it. (I don't live in FR, but I'm in the region, and I can tell you that this is the first I've heard of this fabulous event with the re-enactors, etc.)

Great work, guys! I think we have something here.

Jason said...

"5) Speaking to your point re: lack of support from Government: actually, the city of Newport puts very little $$ (if any) into this kind of work. It's mostly all private sector. Granted, they have a head of steam behind them and there's a bigger business community, and the business community is more invested due to past success ... but you could start small and grow. EVERYWHERE THIS WORK IS HAPPENING, IT'S NOT HAPPENING BECAUSE OF GOVERNMENT."


Actually, I saw this, and let it go. But I should have responded. Being that I am from Newport, I know a bit about what is happening there. Very few events are run by Newport themselves. There are a number of organizations that all have their own mission, and each have their own weekends, or days that they put on events. I think the City may have stepped in to ask for money from the state for some things. I can only think of Gateway Center, which is the tourist info center really.

And for those of you who think Newport has always been a resort location, you are mistaken. It was only a resort for the super rich, many years ago. Newport was a blue collar Navy town. The men were in the Navy, and the women would work for GE or something similar. The downtown section of the city called Thames Street, was once called "Blood Alley" because of the amount of drinking and fighting that would go on there. Newporters would never go down there, because it was a huge mess. Some would argue the only thing that has changed is the people are now tourits.. but that's another argument.

I think FRCA should have been given to a non-profit years ago. I think it is a shame that our Chamber of Commerce has been tied up doing one thing for 20 years. They should be acting as an incubator, get things going, and quickly move out of the way.


That's my 2c

Scout said...

Jason, your 2c is right on the money.

I know a little bit about Newport, as well, and I can attest that you're 100% accurate re: the role of private investment, the relatively recent presence of "Blood Alley" etc. I don't personally remember those days, but anyone who was around pre-1980s has tales to tell.

Today's Newport is a testament to a bold vision by a handful of people in the 1970s, and a lot of hard work and smart strategy.

When I referenced "little (if any) $$" invested by the city of Newport, I was leaving room for the cost of public safety and other infrastructure investments.

I agree with you that Newport's activities are launched by the private sector ... but I do think we need to pause to make the point that the city DOES need to be READY for that kind of activity. (There are plenty of naysayers re: this work, and complete transparency will serve us well in the end.)

Roads need to be in good shape, signage needs to be in place, parking needs to be available, public safety needs to be assured, etc. Newport gets some help with that kind of thing ... (for instance, I believe the National Guard backs up the city police for events like the jazz and folk festivals at Fort Adams) ... but there IS a mindset in place that "we are open for business, and we welcome visitors."

That said ... FR has a long way to go before it encounters the kind of scale and crowd control requirements experienced by Newport! There's plenty of time to ramp up.

Again, I do think this series of Thursday evening events (as proposed by an earlier poster) to be expanded over time will give FR an incremental boost in terms of image and tourism revenue, and can pave the way for bigger things as the city becomes ready.

Long-term, I actually think FR is BETTER positioned than Newport to be a creative class center. It's more affordable, has better highway access to Boston, Providence, and NYC, and has more room for growth (i.e. vacant real estate.) It's also part of the broader "Southcoast" community.

So ... time to get started!

Anonymous said...

Jason, I remember what Newport was like in the late 60`s and early 70`s and believe me it took more than private enterprise/ investment to clean that place up. Just like pawtucket did. The mayor, Mr. Doyle, has made a commitment to the arts. Mr.Weiss from the city's planning Dept was put in charge of the project and told to run with it. That is the kind of government help/involvement that I meant in my previous post along with all the other perks that Pawtucket developers got like federal and state tax breaks for restoring the historic mills in the city. FROED doesn't even know if these tax incentives are even available for Fall River. I would rather see my tax dollars help subsidize artists and small buisnesses than low rent housing which contributes nothing to the advancement of the city. What we need is change in leadership from the local through the Federal level. Our leaders have failed us miserably over the years.But I digress... We have a tremendous amount of talented people here to get the job done of turning this city around. All we need is a leader and I hate to say this but a political organization to back him/her. The current administration has let us down by not promoting the arts as viable economic engine for change. The Arts Overlay District hasn't really moved off the ground level yet due to lack of support from the 6th floor and the Fiasco surrounding the sale of the BCC building is so dissapointing yet so typical of Fall River. I hate to sound so depressing but its so frustrating to know that we have so much potential for success that may never be realized in my lifetime.

Scout said...

Anonymous 10:04: Your pragmatism is very, very appreciated, and I'm so sorry for your (obviously longstanding) disappointment. I sincerely hope we can get this work started (and see some results) in your lifetime.

My point re: the private sector taking the lead in Newport was not to minimize the contributions of Mayor Doyle and other leaders, but to make two points:

1) although city government may have been involved in the beginning, this kind of initiative is NOT dependent on public dollars on an ongoing basis(which seems to be a fear among some opponents)

2) this work can be initiated by the private sector, and in fact private sector involvement and leadership .. in my view .. is THE critical factor in success. (Even in Pawtucket. It's critical that Herb Weiss facilitates private development, but it's entrepreneurship that will ultimately make Pawtucket thrive.)

The birthing of "the new Newport" was a bit before my time, but my understanding is that the work was a partnership among government leaders and business leaders. Similarly ... a group of business leaders jump-started the Providence "renaissance" in terms of moving the rivers and paving the way for Waterplace Park, etc.

Is there a way for private sector interests to get the ball rolling in FR?

Fear and Loathing in Fall River said...

It takes leadership... Leadership that actually gets things done.

Lefty said...

No fair, you just gave away the Mayor's reelection slogan!

sanctaflora said...

It would be great, after having a meal in one of many superb FR restaurants, to have a place to shop without having to go to Dartmouth or New Bedford. There's not a single bookstore in the city I know of, one antique shop which is open by chance on Plymouth Ave., the historical society is closed a great part of the year, the library has cut hours back, no Sundays, and no Saturdays in the summer. I also think many music, theatre, art events at the BCC and around town need wider promotion- the FR web site could use some punch and the folks whose job it is to promote and market FR could do so with more imagination and creativity.
New Bedford has made the best of some of its empty mills by turning them into huge multi-dealer antique malls which do great business on weekends-and those people hang around to eat at the city's restaurants and spend some money. There's plenty of real estate going begging on Main Street if only the city could entice some small businesses, boutiques, service providers, and such to take advantage of what the city has to offer. Recently on the news , one small town was doing a booming Main Street business with cobblers, consignment shops, used clothing and furniture, and other economy-driven businesses moving back into the city. If you build it- they will come.

Scout said...

Sanctaflora: Welcome to the conversation!

And thank you for your great input. I agree with you ... once the ball starts rolling, momentum will follow.

I come at this as an outsider, so forgive me if I seem naive or uninformed ... but, based on the posts I've read, my sense is that the folks on this blog don't seem to feel that current city leadership can make this happen (or facilitate it), nor can FROED, nor can the Chamber. Is that an accurate read?

So ... what's the solution? Should a new, edgier, more entrepreneurial business/arts group be formed? Should some of us blogfolk come out of cyberspace and do something in real time?

I feel that we've had a great discussion over the past couple of weeks, and it would be a shame to see all these great ideas (and a surprising amount of consensus) die on the vine.

What should we do now? Lefty? I think your wisdom is needed here. (And of course, all others welcome!)

Faye Musselman said...

Scout: Form a Committee! As you stated:

"Should some of us blogfolk come out of cyberspace and do something in real time?"

To keep the momentum going, a group of "doers" should literally get together and get consensus on just WHAT you want to do and then go about doing it.

You've had great suggestions and I like yours for a successful smaller event leading to a bigger one. Most of the elements in the very loose outline I posted is still valid for a smaller event.

If I lived within reasonable distance, I'd sign up! :)

Consider a time when whole families can come...an event appropriate for children, seniors, singles, everybody. So if its focused on the Arts alone, give that "inclusion" aspect some thought. :)

Faye Musselman said...

The following is not relevant to the current postings but I suspect it will be a topic soon enough. This comes from the online FRHN an hour ago:

"Fall River — Faced with massive state budget cuts to the city, Mayor Robert Correia Thursday floated a strategy for all municipal employees to accept an 8 percent pay cut this year and another 2 percent for fiscal year 2010. Without the cuts, Correia said, the “minimal” expected shortfall “translates into cuts of 175 jobs on the municipal side.”

Note the Mayor is "floating a strategy". Just what does that mean in his mind? I know what it means in the minds of city employees whether it was "floated" in Fall River or Podunk. Fear and Depression. Anxiety and more Stress. Usually this kind of talk surfaces during union negotiations but I don't know if that's transpiring in FR right now.

In the words of Al Swearingen (as portrayed by Ian McShane) in HBO's DEADWOOD:

"Not a tone to get a deal done."

Lefty said...

Scout,

I wish I had some easy answers. City government sometimes talks the talk but there really is no effort to form partnerships and develop a shared vision. I think it's that ability, for government, to promote a vision and find partnerships to make that happen is what has brought some success to Pawtucket and helped Newport become what we know it as today.

Here in Fall River we just do not have leadership that envisions a long term goal and then works to achieve it. The simple answer would be to put that sort of leadership in place, yet year after year Fall River fails to elect those types of leaders.

I think Fall River will have to be dragged into its own renaissance.

The folks who organized the war reenactment need to be convinced that it was an effort that is worth undertaking again. It might take 4 or 5 years before this endeavor establishes itself.

The Victorian house tour, which takes place during The Christmas season maybe needs to be repeated during the warm weather months when walking tours of the Highlands would be more desirable.

Come August Fall River should go back to the days of Lizzie Borden! That Marc Monroe Dion, a local columnist has written about and I've blogged my views and will leave those interested to search out the post, but much could be done to capitalize on the interest and mystique of the Borden case, and it could be done without the help of the city.

I guess my point is individual groups are doing the work now, and they need to continue and find ways to work together and promote together. The Narrows after over a decades worth of work is now known outside of our city borders. People travel here from all over to hear and see what is featured. The Water Street Cafe has received mentions in Yankee magazine as a place to when traveling the SouthCoast. People DO come here for the things that they know of, whether that is the Narrows, or the Water St. Cafe, or Lizzie Borden or the Battleship. These groups need to work together to better promote one another and because the combined effort would be greater than any of them could do on their own.

I think it makes a lot of sense for these different groups and organizations to meet and discuss ideas. They should as, a group, bend the ear of the sympathetic and foresighted leaders we do have. They should combine funds to run more effective ad campaign. They should work together to create a calendar of events that will add a vitality to our city, create a buzz about us beyond our borders and convince OUR residents that our city really can shine.

Should bloggers play a role in this? I'd like to think we would have something to offer.

I wish this was something that could happen overnight and evolve into better city planning that would have us develop our waterfront and restore some of the wonderful buildings we have here.

Without city government leading the way I think it's up to us to build up the momentum until it can no longer be ignored.

sanctaflora said...

I think you hit the nail on the head, Lefty. There are many small-group efforts to kindle interest and exciting projects but we all seem to be operating independently and on a shoe-string with many volunteers. A United Front would make sense. Sometimes efforts overlap, or sometimes one hand does not know what another hand is doing. Once again, the city website needs to promote and publicize better -and be updated weekly. Yes, I know bloggers have some impact. I have several Fall River- related blogs and receive some really heart-warming email from architects, former and current residents,- businessmen in the city, etc. I have written to the current mayor and sent him the links to these city blogs- no response. The city needs to HIRE somebody whose sole job is to promote Fall River in a high profile way around the clock, full out, non-stop and with infectious enthusiasm using every single media tool available.

It's a great city for the film industry, to name just one possibility. CT has turned inside out giving film companies breaks to shoot in that state. Newport has a highly succesful Secret Garden Tour in June. Yes, FR should showcase the daylights out of those beautiful homes and gardens on the Hill, and have more of the History Underfoot Tours in Oak Grove, say at Halloween. And do some of it when the weather is good in May or June or when the tourist traffic is high.

I fear though, with the economy the way it is at the moment, nobody at city hall is thinking about turning the spotlight on the city's potential as a destination city with things to see and DO.

Anonymous said...

Here's the economic impact that a SINGLE montly arts night is having in downtown New Bedford.

http://www.nbedc.org/news/news285.htm

$527K of economic impact in 2007 ALONE. From one monthly event. All paid for using grant money.

...

Anonymous said...

http://www.heraldnews.com/arts/x2143289168/Painting-the-town

Another artists' profile.

Good for the HN.

Scout said...

I've been away for a few days, and in the interim a lot has certainly hit the fan, in terms of fiscal issues for FR. So sorry ... very hard times.

I don't even know if this thread is still being read, but I do hope this discussion will keep going ... with discussion leading to action at some point.

In these incredibly difficult times, it's only natural to want to put all energies into addressing the immediate crisis and put things like arts and culture and creative economy cultivation on the back burner. But I hope our conversation and work can continue and pick up steam.

I think sanctaflora hit the nail on the head when she spoke of the great, volunteer-driven work that's being done by various groups and organizations without central coordination ... and the need for the city to hire a person to provide that coordination. Obviously, even if the city was ever inclined to do that, it certainly isn't going to happen now.

And so ... I ask if there's some existing person or organization that could fill the void in the meantime? Arts United, perhaps? Or could the various organizations (along with some of FR's new restaurants, perhaps) all pool their resources and hire a person to advocate and publicize on their collective behalf? Or could some umbrella cultural organization be created to advance this agenda?

Speaking to Faye's point ... some folks from our online community here, who are within driving distance of the city, might be able to offer some time to the effort as well. And we could ... oh, I don't know ... dial Faye in by speaker phone :)

The specific mechanism doesn't really much matter. I just think you need some kind of vessel for catalyzing all the great input that's been offered on this blog, and taking advantage of all the great possibilities that will no doubt arise in the future. And it's looking increasingly like it's up to the private sector to do it.

What does everyone think?

V said...

I think it's a matter of where and when at this point.

I think all of this can be done without the city's help, short of the permits that would be required to do several of the ideas mentioned. If money's needed, we'll either have to raise it or beg for it from private donors.

Arts United is a good place to start, but it will undoubtedly be caught up in it's own initiatives (One of the artists from the storefront artists project is in the herald today). We have to do it ourselves.

So first, we need to define who we IS. A meeting. Face-to-face, online, whatever. Let's say ... Sunday, March 6. We just need a time and place. Suggestions?

We need to coordinate this and make it happen. Notify every and all the artists in the city and all the businesses that need to be contacted. Then we need to notify the papers, the TV stations and the blogs, as well as all major Web sites that cover this kind of stuff of the meeting. I can do all of that, actually. We just have to agree on a date, time and place first.

At the meeting, we'll define what our first event is going to be and where it's going to be, then who and what we need to do to make that happen. At that point, we'll set a timeline with deadlines for each phase of the project with built in buffers. And then, we do it. Let's make this happen. It's not going to be tough, it's just going to take some hard work.

Oh and it's been long enough for me to go without a name.

I shall go by V for now, but regardless ...

let's make this happen.

Anonymous said...

V,
March 6 is a Friday. Did you mean the 8th? There are many groups in this city that are all working towards a similiar goal, maybe we could invite a rep from these groups to attend the meeting with the bloggers who post here. In fact they may be the same people. I spoke with a friend of mine and he offered the Lafayette-Durfee House 94 Cherry Street as a place where we could meet.

Scout said...

V, that's terrific! I hope you get great turnout! Please report back on the blog, so that those who can't be there in person will be able to help however possible.

Also ... I just read the sad news re: the foreclosure on the Abbey Grille in the Herald News on-line. Does that mean that the church is also foreclosed??? It would be horrific to lose such an important historic asset for the city. Is there a way to acquire the property at auction in late March and turn it into an arts/heritage site???

Anonymous said...

Scout,
so far no one from this blog had indicated that they would be willing to attend. If anyone out there is interested please please let me know by replying to this post so I can reserve the House. I believe that the Church part known as the Great Hall is also part of the foreclosure.

Scout said...

Anon 3:33 ... sorry I over-enthused! It may not be a lack of enthusiasm that you're feeling, but just the fact that everyone's time is stretched thin these days and people may not be ready to "come out of the blog."

If you're not getting commitments to in-person attendance on the 6th or 8th, I wonder if we should figure out an on-line alternative to continue the discussion for now and continue to build momentum? (i.e. IM, or a wiki, or even a dedicated thread on Lefty's blog if he's willing?)

Re: Abbey Grille & the church: Do you feel (as I do) that this pretty much amounts to a preservation emergency??? Is there anything we can do to save this property? I remember how beautiful it is ... and so significant, historically. If memory serves (and Faye can correct me here, I'm sure!) I think this was Lizzie Borden's church???

If you all don't think I'm nuts for thinking that there can be a "community rescue" of this property, maybe the effort can provide a focal point for our early efforts. In addition to saving an important FR artifact, it could also be a wonderful arts & culture center ... and I don't know if it falls within the "arts overlay district" but it's just as close to downtown as the waterfront, so it would seem to fit with that initiative.

Thoughts, everyone?

Faye Musselman said...

The “Central Congregational Church” is as iconic to Fall River as the Braga Bridge, St. Anne’s, and Battleship Cove. It is sickening to contemplate the possibility of that historic edifice being demolished by the wrecking ball.

Back in the 60’s the beautiful old City Hall was destroyed, in spite of local protests. It just wasn't "economically feasible" to repair the infrastructure, nor was it big enough to house the growing number of city employees (who were housed in the old Mellen Hotel for nearly 3 years while the current monstrosity was under construction.)

FR residents of more than 15 years will recall that on May 11, 1982, the Church of Notre Dame de Lourdes was destroyed by fire. Another great iconic edifice of Fall River that we can only see on vintage postcards and photographs. That event was so tragic on so many levels.

Beyond the general malaise of the city’s citizens (who unfortunately have to worry more about buying enough groceries for the week) local preservation activists have a sad and abysmal track record of achieving their objectives, but their voices have yet to be heard in the case of the Abbey Grill.

Last year, Doug Tweedy (GM at WSAR) had lunch with George Karousos at the Abbey Grill. He was just finishing a booklet that documented all the old wonderful structures of Fall River...he was going to call it something like "What We Had, What We Have, and What We Can Save".....I saw it as a vehicle he could use as a "catalyst for caring" and encouraged him to find a sponsor to underwrite the cost of printing and get it into the hands of as many residents as possible. It was a wonderful booklet and I regret he hasn't pursued that endeavor. It would be a valuable document now. It could have been used to raise awareness as well as funds.

Let’s just see if the future of the CCC/Abbey Grill awakes the passions of those that CAN save it. Hell, I wouldn’t care if the Catholic Church bought it (they took over that wonderful Boys Club building as part of the Catholic Youth Authority), and the Church DOES have money. At least it wouldn’t meet the fate of a wrecking ball for high price condos or the like.

Unfortunately, these depressing economic times stresses the resources of those standard "contributors" for civic causes and projects, such as the local banks. Private funds will have to come forward from some deep pocket shakers and makers. But the trouble the Abbey Grill is in is the same as so many businesses - revenues are down. Fall River does not have household incomes commensurate in supporting multiple gourmet restaurants, so I am not at all supprised about their closing.

My heart goes out to George, not even knowing the details or what is going or went on. The fact is he brought something to Fall River that many benefited from, students and diners alike, let alone providing a venue with servicea that have gifted its customers with wonderful memories for the special events and weddings that have taken part there.

The entire "Central Congregational Church" complex is unique and part of the fabric of Fall River. Will it be another tattered thread that unravels and disappears?

Much remains to be seen, but I hope someone or some organization ultimately comes forward to invest in needed repairs and operate it as a business (museum?) open to the public so all may continue to experience this part of Fall River's living history.

Scout said...

Faye,

Thank you so much for your incredibly informative and passionate post!

I agree re: Central Congregational's iconic status in FR's heritage, and join you in being absolutely SICK at the thought of it being destroyed. It's so historically significant, as you point out, but also offers a great location and (if memory serves) a wonderful, versatile structure. I seem to remember that there's a sort of courtyard area, in addition to the church structures...? What an amazing space for summer performances, maybe a performing arts school, even studios and lofts ...?


The demolition of the old City Hall came during the unfortunate years when a lot of cities were locked in the grip of urban >> cough<< renewal ... but, hopefully, with the resurgence of the preservation ethos over the past few decades, we know better now.

You're so right, of course, about the many urgent needs competing for donor dollars these days. But maybe something can be done nevertheless?

I think it's probably doubtful that the Catholic Church would buy it (they're unloading and demolishing their own decommissioned churches) but I can't believe that there wouldn't be funding at least to keep the place standing long enough to figure out a viable long-range plan.

Has anyone reached out to the National Trust for Historic Preservation? Is it on the Register? If not, it should be.

Has anyone done a cost analysis re: what would be required to purchase and maintain the building?

Lefty said...

I think the old City Hall was simply a victim to the highway project. I'm not sure if any preservation efforts could have won over that. As much as people may hate Governement Center I imagine any structure built during that time would be criticized today.

I agree with Scout's observation about a meeting not taking hold because of time and commitement issues. I also think that anonymity has a lot to do with it. Not everone wants to give it up so easily.

I have some thoughts about how to continue the conversation online. Scout, would you send me an email? I'd like to throw these ideas out and see what you think. aviewfrombattleshipcove@gmail.com