EDIC Executive Director, James (Jim) Cowdell talks to readers about the formation of an Arts & Cultural District.
A few weeks ago I wrote a post about our efforts on the Hawthorne Restaurant. I received a lot of feedback and no matter what side of the issue you were on, I want to sincerely thank you for caring about our city.
Lynn was established in 1629 as a city. It has a long and beautiful history. As you look back, a missing component is a unified arts and cultural district. Now this statement is not meant as a shot at any of the great places we currently have here in Lynn and specifically in our downtown. It’s to get you to start thinking of what we have and more importantly what we could have in the future.
I could produce study after study which would support the economic importance of arts and culture to a city. I think it is empirical data and would certainly be hard for any unbiased person to rebut.
I've heard from restauranteurs Downtown that they don't have to look further than their receipts to see the impact that an art event or a concert at Lynn City Hall Auditorium has on his bottom line.
When there is an event it absolutely helps local businesses. I assume we're all in agreement on that.
So logically speaking, the more ‘events’ that happen, the better it is for existing businesses.
But today, lets go further than that basic concept. Economic Development and Industrial Corporation (EDIC) of Lynn is currently establishing an Arts and Cultural district. We will be submitting a formal application to the State and when accepted will have a designated area outlining this district. Additionally, we have put aside $500,000 that will be earmarked for low interest loans (4.5%) targeting artists and other innovative businesses to locate in downtown Lynn. These loans can be used to help with start up costs such as rent, build out, inventory, etc.
Picture downtown Lynn. Now imagine 30-40 new businesses in downtown with an arts and cultural focus. How many ‘events’ could we have in a year or in a month or even in a week! How many people would that bring to the downtown? How many jobs would that create? How many new residents would be attracted to Downtown Lynn?
There was an election for Mayor of Chicago recently and each candidate was asked, “Why is arts and culture important to a city?”
Let’s take a look at what three of those candidates said:
”The arts humanize community, and give us inspiration and opportunities to connect as people.” Carol Moseley Braun,
Former U.S. Senator
Former U.S. Senator
“It is the face and fiber of our city” Cynthia Plaster Caster,
“Art and culture are essential to the fabric, character and economy of the city.” Gery Chico,
Don’t you think it would be interesting to pose that question to people of this area? What do you think people would say? Do you think people in general see the connection between the Arts and Cultural District and the health and wellness of a city?
The establishment of the Arts and Cultural District is much more than just a positive impact on the local economy. It taps into the energy of a city. As I look at the new residents in our downtown, I can see the energy. It is palpable.
The journey has begun.