“People would come because of the artist lofts and because we’re offering these bohemian like spaces. That’s not why I came. You know I came because this city is a unique place, it has all sorts of culture, it has really rich history, and it doesn’t look cookie cutter like every place else in the country. It’s also blue collar and artists are generally, I know people say artists aren’t blue collar, but they are. They work with their hands, that’s what artist do.” Lowell artist interviewed for this project.
Back in the 60s and 70s thinkers like educator and city planner Patrick J. Mogan were prescribing remedies to Lowell’s problems that focused first and foremost on “making it a good address again.” 1978 Creation of Lowell National Historical Park
1982 Brush Art Gallery 1987 Folk Festival started 1990s Lowell made a commitment to attracting artists to utilize the historic refurbished mill space Tsongas Arena and LeLacheur Ball Park opened in 1998
2000 Ayers Loft project 2001 COOL established Richard Florida’s influential work, The Rise of the Creative Class, was published in 2002. 2003 City of Lowell’s Comprehensive Master Plan cites Florida’s work 2005 Western Avenue established 2007, the Lowell Plan commissioned “On the Cultural Road…City of World Culture”
In the spring of 2012, at conference on creative place making hosted by Lowell, former City Manager Bernie Lynch noted: “We’re convinced that employers are drawn to locations with a base of talented, creative individuals who are in the current workforce or available for an expanding workforce. These employers want to be in places that are vibrant, diverse, and authentic, and which possess the amenities and walking-friendly environments that complement creative lifestyles”
Focus Groups ◦ Local Artists and Local Musicians ◦ Public Matters Class ◦ Cambodian and Burmese Community Groups Interviews with Key Agents and Policy Makers ◦ Six in-depth interviews in 2013 plus 14 previous interviews from 2011 project Census Data Visitor surveys and attendance data of museums, exhibits and events
Population: 108,522 (2012 estimate) Median Household Income: $51,1174 Persons below the poverty level: 17.3% Lowell’s total ethnic population is now 47.2% of the total population (Census, 2010).
There are 440 artist studios, 190 of which are live-work housing units. 10 theater and performing arts spaces; 16 museums, galleries, and cultural centers; and Five rehearsal and recording studios. We have identified over 760 artists living in Lowell currently who work in the visual arts (painting, sculpture, ceramics, photography, etc.). Over 40 people who consider themselves writers Over 100 hundred who consider themselves active musicians.
Event/ Venue2010-20112011-20122012-2013 4th of July14,00015,00020,000 African Festival500 3,000 Brush Art Gallery14,19117,83813,899 City of Lights11,50015,000 Folk Festival145,000150,000 Kerouac Literary Festival- - 2,000 Lowell Folk Life Series1,5812,0331,965 Lowell Summer Music Series- 25,238 28,526 Puerto Rican Festival1,500 3,000 Riverfest4001,100300 South East Asian Water Festival25,00030,00025,000 The Lowell Memorial Auditorium134,792118,593120,000? Whistler House568148825603 WinterFest10,000 8,000
Average Breakdown of Nonprofit Arts & Culture Attendees Local vs. Nonlocal
Average Event-Related Spending Local vs. Nonlocal Audiences
Nonprofit Arts Attendees Spend $24.60 Per Person, Per Event Source: Americans for the Arts, Economic Prosperity IV
Annually -- Maybe 270,000 visits, plus Park attendance of over 500,000 = 770,000 Assuming $25 spent per visit = $19 million in revenue per year.
We have identified over 80 “creative” businesses in downtown Lowell and in other neighborhoods in the city. *Definition of what constitutes a “creative business” varies, but can include galleries, shops and high-end restaurants.
In discussing the Urban Cultural Park concept, Patrick Mogan expressed a desire to make Lowell “a good address again” Many of the intangible benefits of the creative economy are in the quality of life for its residents and visitors. “Renaissance is simply a mind- set” –Paul Tsongas, Time 1991
“I think it has translated into people being willing to make a commitment and investment in the city as opposed to try to get out of the city and its turned into a place where I think people tend to, has a sense of magnetism to it…it’s a city where once you're engaged with you tend not to want to leave, you tend to want to stay here” Local Elected Official
“I think when many people think about the creative economy in Lowell they think about art galleries, or a musician, or a coffee house. I think with things like nanotechnology, 3D printing and other modern technologies, I think we are on the verge of a revolution that will rival the industrial revolution” Local Official
Better data on business start up and business development Annual surveys of major events with demographic data on visitors Create a Lowell Data Common for all to use Market Lowell Recognize that the Creative Economy is really about an economy worth having….building safe, tolerant communities for everyone and a place where people can be themselves… Nurture and sustain young people…