The Merrimack Valley is rich in history, arts, and culture – places like the Firehouse Arts Center in Newburyport, the Andover Center for History and Culture, and the Haverhill Farmers Market all give the region its uniqueness and make it a desirable place to live. MVPC, Essex County Community Foundation (ECCF), and the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) came together to lead an innovative initiative which will strengthen the bonds between them and enhance their visibility in our region.
On August 7th over 60 people from across Merrimack Valley’s arts and culture community attended the launch of the regions asset mapping exercise titled Valuing Arts, Culture, and Creativity: Asset Mapping the Merrimack Valley. Over the course of the next 10 months MVPC, ECCF, and MAPC will hold a number of smaller meetings with the areas arts and culture stakeholders and begin mapping these artistic and cultural resources, institutions, and events. The initiative is being co-facilitated by Tom Borrup, author of The Creative Community Builder’s Handbook · How to Transform Communities Using Local Assets, Arts, and Culture and Marquis Victor, poet, artist, and founding executive director of Elevated Thought, a Lawrence-based nonprofit that merges youth, art, and social justice.
Regional stakeholders identified “Natural and Cultural Resources” as one of the four pillars of our Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS). Cultural resources haven’t traditionally received the same level of support that businesses have, nor are they typically viewed in the same light as community and economic development. However, that is changing. Healthier and more comprehensive approaches to community and economic development take a more holistic view which incorporates cultural resources. We recognize that some of our greatest assets are the rich cultural expressions of the communities that live here. Our traditions get expressed through our arts and culture and give the Merrimack Valley it’s unique sense of place. We will continue our work to identify and connect the people, places, organizations, and events that give those communities their unique identity and vibrancy.