February 17, 2023
From murals to a mobile museum, access to art and culture expands across the region

ECCF’s Creative County Initiative supports seven new creative projects in Essex County communities

Thousands of children and families have explored, learned and created at the North Shore Children’s Museum in Peabody, originally piloted in 2019 as the CuriousCity pop-up museum with the support of Essex County Community Foundation’s Creative County Initiative (CCI).

But NSCM Executive Director Ali Haydock knows that there are individuals with developmental, intellectual or physical differences, and students from low-income school districts, who cannot access all the museum has to offer. That’s why she and her team have plans to hit the road with “On the Road,” a mobile museum that will bring enriching exhibits and programming to communities throughout Essex County.

“We are excited for this new program to launch and for all the potential it has to bring our mission to thousands of children who otherwise could not access it,” said Haydock.

Purchase of the van that will house the new mobile museum is one of seven creative projects being supported by a 2023 CCI Partnership Grant, a program designed to bring cross-sector partners together to plan and implement a collaborative placemaking or public art project.

“By bringing nonprofits, municipalities, businesses and artists together, we’re really aiming to deepen engagement and investment in the creative sector and to increase collective capacity for cross-sector work,” said CCI Program Director Karen Ristuben. “Building this collaborative muscle is critical for resiliency and sustainability.”

For the first time since the inception of ECCF’s Creative County Partnership Grant program in 2018, the foundation has the resources to fund all applicants that made it through to the final grant round, thanks to increased support from the Boston-based Barr Foundation.

“We are so grateful to Barr for generously supporting our vision of a region that not only values arts and culture as part of sustainable and resilient communities, but truly understands their transformative power to bring people together,” said Ristuben.

Additional projects being funded by ECCF Creative County Partnership Grants in 2023 include:

  • The Neal Rantoul Vault Theatre, a new multipurpose space in Lynn – developed by the Lynn Music Foundation – that will serve as a platform for artists and performers of diverse backgrounds to showcase their work and increase access to the arts for low-income families and individuals.
  • Dissard CompARTimos, an interactive and visual immigrant story trail – built from the personal narratives of Lawrence youth and supported by award-winning “I Learn America” film director Jean-Michel Dissard and a local team of storytelling mentors, bilingual artists and businesses – that will be installed along the Spicket River Greenway.
  • Native Waters, a collaboration between Cape Ann Museum and SmokeSygnals, a Wampanoag curatorial firm, taking place during the 400-year anniversary of English colonizers settling Gloucester by lifting up the Native culture that existed for thousands of years before 1623.
  • Writing Musical History, a project led by Rockport Music that pairs professional songwriters with student groups from four area high schools to guide a songwriting process centered on places of meaning in Rockport, Manchester, Gloucester, Essex and Beverly. Student-composed songs will be performed at the Shalin Liu Performing Arts Center in Rockport.
  • Andover Illuminates, a weekend festival hosted by the Town of Andover and the Andover Center for History and Culture that will focus on light, art, performance and celebration to grow and nourish the arts, culture and placemaking scene in Andover.
  • Newburyport Murals, a partnership between the City of Newburyport, Newburyport Art Association, Blochaus Art Gallery, area muralists and local businesses that aims to connect and engage residents and visitors with Newburyport and the theme, “We share one sky,” through large-scale exterior murals strategically placed across the city.

“Each and every one of these creative collaborations will bring value to their host communities in unique and varied ways,” said Ristuben. “We are particularly excited about the impacts that so many of these projects will have on youth and underserved populations, and the opportunities they will give to voices that need more chances to be heard.”

For more information on the work of Creative County, visit eccf.org/arts-and-culture/.

About ECCF

The mission of Essex County Community Foundation is to inspire philanthropy that strengthens the communities of Essex County. We do this by managing charitable assets, strengthening and supporting nonprofits and engaging in strategic community leadership. Since 1998, ECCF and its growing family of nearly 275 charitable funds have granted $136 million to nonprofits, schools and students in Essex County and beyond. Our ultimate goal is to have 34 thriving cities and towns in Essex County and to improve the quality of life for the region’s nearly 800,000 residents. Learn more at www.eccf.org.  

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