Cultural Plan: Arts, culture and creativity are important to the vibrancy, sustenance, and growth of the city of Worcester. The City is committed to this priority and it has resulted in an increase in financial support for arts and cultural initiatives throughout the city, including public art. The City Manager has asked for the creation of a “Cultural Plan” to stand alongside its Master Plan and Strategic Plan now in development. To execute the development of the plan, the City of Worcester partners with the Worcester Cultural Coalition and the Greater Worcester Community Foundation. The partners are designing and implementing a community engagement process and a final plan which will be issued in March 2019.
Cultural Compact: the City of Worcester, Worcester Arts Council, Salisbury Cultural District, Worcester Cultural Coalition, and the MA Cultural Council are pleased to announce a new and formal cultural relationship. All four local partners, while formerly working collectively on cultural activities to boost the local economy through creative expression, signed a Cultural Compact with the MA Cultural Council to strengthen the relationships. The Compact includes basics, such as regular meetings and communication, but also Worcester-specific goals. Worcester is one of six pilot cities for this initiative across the state of Massachusetts.
Public Art:Main Street Reimagined, a public art streetscape program initiated by City Manager, Ed Augustus, is underway and incorporates public art into the street, the redesign of Main Street and Blackstone Gateway Visitors Center. Wayfinding public art installations and web based storytelling trails create a sense of place and engagement and will be installed in the summer of 2019.
Special events: The Worcester Common hosted 30 plus events in 2018. Highlights included the Out to Lunch Concert series which hosted a farmers/crafters market, Worcester Movies on the Common, Let’s Dance, Field Day, Woo Challenge, Goat Yoga, Canal Diggers, Latin Fest, Caribbean Fest, World Cup soccer and more. Five major film and video productions were on location in Worcester in 2018.
Worcester PopUP: WCC, in partnership with Worcester Business Development Corporation, the Hanover Theatre and the City of Worcester continue to collaborate on the implementation of the Worcester Popup, a creative co-working and creating space, and the black box theater. The partners were awarded $200,000 in funding from the state Cultural Facilities Fund from Mass Development and the MA Cultural Council. The PopUp opened in April of 2018, it has hosted more than 95 creative community events created by WCC member organizations, artists and creative entrepreneurs. The PopUP promotes and supports cultural equity, mentors interns and has a current artist working with a local business. More than 1,500 people have attended public events ranging from workshops in integrating science, technology and arts, youth arts workshops, film screenings, concerts and more: worcesterpopup.org
Worcester Arts Council: The Worcester Arts Council awarded at total of $127,318 in grants to 46 Worcester based artists and organizations in the arts, sciences and humanities; including two Artist Fellowship awards of $5,000 each to local visual artist Scott Boilard, and musician Thomas Lubelczyk. The Worcester Arts Council received a funding increase from the MCC for FY19, and with this increase WAC was thrilled to have the capability of fully funding 66% of its applicant pool.
Education Working Group: in partnership with the Worcester Public Schools and Worcester Educational Development Fund has procured another round of funding from the George I. Alden Trust and additional funds from the Stoddard Foundation to support Culture LEAPS, which are full-grade comprehensive, curriculum-based experiences for students and staff. The partnership was successful in increasing the number of LEAPS so that every grade level has a dynamic relationship with a cultural institution. The program is funded through the Alden and Stoddard Charitable Trusts. The Worcester Telegram funds a LEAP created by the American Antiquarian Society. Our emphasis this past year has been in developing a comprehensive and effective evaluation system for the LEAPS. The working group has also reached out to a wider variety of individuals and organizations conducting youth programs. We now meet bi-monthly to network, find points for collaboration and to showcase the work of the partner organizations.
MASS Creative: an advocacy organization promoting the support of the arts, science and humanities, worked to secure increased funding for the MA Cultural Council to 14 million and continued funding of the MA Cultural Facilities Fund and participated in Arts Advocacy at the Statehouse. Erin Williams as Executive Director of the Worcester Cultural Coalition and Troy Siebels represent Central Massachusetts and serve on the board of directors.
Promoting Arts and Culture
Social Media: WCC maintains very active Social Media campaigns with accounts growing daily, adding new friends and followers on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The accounts reach an estimated 20,883 with the majority of the demographic representing women age 25-34 followed by women age 35-44. An estimated 1,500 social media posts were created to promote the many events and initiatives of the WCC members.
Media Plugs: WCC oversees monthly unique marketing plugs on a variety of outlets including print, radio, local television, and online – with an approximate combined estimated cash value of $120,000. Marketing outlets include: WBUR, NEPR, WNNZ, WICN, WCUW, Unity, Go Local Worcester, and Spectrum TV3. All WCC member organizations are incorporated through the WCC’s multi-faceted marketing strategies.
Website: A new website org was launched by WCC in July, 2018. It features a fresh bold design, a new WCC calendar powered by Discover Central MA, a WCC member portal, individual WCC profile pages and a one stop shop for all things arts & culture here in Worcester. Since its launch in July, WorcesterCulture.org attracted 14,729 visitors and 55,165 page views. The WCC Calendar of Events page accounts for 47% percent of the website’s traffic with a total of 25,987 page views, affirming the site’s ability to serve as a new reliable source for cultural happenings in the greater Worcester area. Entry to the WCC website through outside referral sites made up a significant amount of visitor traffic with top percentages referred from Constant Contact, followed by Go Local Worcester, Worcesterma.org, and Facebook. In addition, the WCC maintains the newly launched Worcester PopUp website at WorcesterPopup.org. The Worcester PopUp opened in April in 2018, with a soft launch of its website. Website traffic began to pick up with a full roll out in August of 2018. Since then, the website has had 3,911 visits and 8,129 page views.
Newsletters: WCC publishes a popular bi-weekly e-newsletter, Arts & Culture Connection, and Worcester PopUP e-newsletter with a distribution of over 37,505 subscribers.
WCC is funded in part by: WCC Membership, City of Worcester, The Barr Foundation, Massachusetts Cultural Council, Greater Worcester Community Foundation, George I. Alden Trust and Stoddard Foundation.