In a formal “stand and deliver” session after lunch at Not Your Average Joe’s on the waterfront, local arts leaders noted that the city hosts an annual film festival, a literary festival, a chamber music festival, as well as scores of art walks, music events, dramatic productions and historical lectures.
One Cultural Council member quipped, “This is great - why haven’t I been here before?” while another remarked enthusiastically, “I think I want to move here.”
Holaday, who championed the initiative for Newburyport to be designated as a Coast Guard City, commented, “This formal process helps us bring together the different arts groups in the city, and we can be more organized moving forward. We can better coordinate events, and we can benefit from the state recognizing us.”
Anita Walker, executive director of the Massachusetts Cultural Council, said that the cultural district program is only a few years old, and Newburyport, if successful, would be the 18th city in the state to be so designated.
The earliest that the city could learn of its inclusion in the program would be October.
“What we want to know is whether a community is authentic, attractive and would be a wonderful place to visit,” said Walker.
Local representatives of “culture” who interacted with the state evaluation team appeared certain that Newburyport is a community that qualifies.
Municipal representatives participating included Holaday, Heartquist, Ormond, Welch, Lois Honegger, administrator, Mayor’s Office of Arts, Tourism and Cultural Affairs; Elena Bachrach, director, Newburyport Art Association; David Hall, president, Hall and Moskow; Beth Falconer, managing director, Firehouse Center for the Arts; Geordie Vining, senior project manager, Newburyport Planning and Development; Marshal Thomas Howard, Newburyport Police Department; Steve Bradbury, deputy fire chief; and Paul Hogg, harbormaster.
Arts leaders involved in the “discussion among stakeholders” included Michael Mroz, director of the Custom House Maritime Museum; Shari Wilkinson, manager of the Farmer’s Market; Alan Bull, artist; Vicki Hendrickson, founder of the Literary Festival; Marc Clopton, principal of the Actor’s Studio; Julie Ganong, business owner, Chococoa Baking Co.; and Doug Locy, chair of the Waterfront Trust.