The Massachusetts Senate is hosting its annual Commonwealth…
Massachusetts Senate Hosting Commonwealth Conversations 2017
The Massachusetts Senate is hosting its annual Commonwealth Conversations, a state wide listening tour of grassroots forums designed to connect state legislators directly with constituents to hear their ideas, concerns and suggestions. The series kicks off on Tuesday, January 31 in the Metro Boston region, and continues through Tuesday, April 11 in the North Shore region. See full schedule below. The Massachusetts State Senate is “bringing Beacon Hill to you with Commonwealth Conversations 2017,” said Senate President Stanley C. Rosenberg, who called the initiative “part of the next step in our ongoing efforts to make your government even more responsive and accessible to you.” Here is a schedule of the upcoming forums: Date Region January 31 Metro Boston February 7 South Coast February 28 South Shore March 7 Southeast March 14 Central Mass March 21 Northeast March 28 Western Mass April 4 MetroWest April 11 North Shore
Moby-Dick Marathon Celebrates Literary & Maritime Traditions of Massachusetts
The 21st annual Moby-Dick Marathon is taking place this weekend at the New Bedford Whaling Museum. The annual readthon is a tribute to Herman Melville’s classic novel about the whaling industry that thrived in New Bedford, Fall River, Nantucket and other seaports in the 19th Century. You can view the reading streaming live here. The annual reading takes place over 25 hours and attracts over 2,500 guests and participants. In addition to celebrating Melville’s literary masterpiece, the Moby-Dick Marathon also raises funds and awareness for the New Bedford Whaling Museum, which provides year round educational programs for school children while also serving as a major tourist attraction for the City of New Bedford and for the Southeastern Massachusetts region, according to Dagny Ashley, director of Destination New Bedford. In addition to English, other languages included in this year’s marathon included Hebrew, German, French, Dutch, Italian and various others. The 22nd Moby-Dick Marathon is scheduled to take place on January 6-7, 2018. Read more about the New Bedford Whaling Museum, which is part of the The New Bedford Whaling National Historic Park founded in 1996. Here are other Herman Melville references throughout Massachusetts. To learn more about visiting Massachusetts, check out the Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism’s web site MassVacation.com.
In Boston, Chinese Pop Star Connects East and West Culture
International music star Leehom Wang, known as the King of Chinese Pop, returned to his musical roots in Boston recently for a spectacular performance of his classic songs at Boston Symphony Hall. A 1999 alumnus of the Berklee College of Music, Leehom invited onstage with him an international cast of student musicians from Berklee for the performance. With over 60 million social media followers, Leehom has won numerous music awards, including multiple Golden Melody Awards in Taiwan, comparable to the Grammy Awards in U.S. From Tony Bennett to Westlife and Aviici, Leehom has expanded his popularity across the globe by collaborating with world-renowned musicians. What drives this singer-songwriter, music producer, actor, film director, and cultural ambassador back to Berklee? It is Leehom’s enduring commitment to connecting people from different cultures through music and his mission of helping aspiring Chinese musicians realize their musical dreams. “One of the most important things for the safety and security of the century is the relationship between the east and west, and Leehom is the ambassador who can help us build that,” said Roger H. Brown, president of Berklee College of Music, who awarded Mr. Wang an honorary Doctor of Music degree in recognition of his achievements. In the acceptance speech, Leehom confessed, “That’s why we make music – to connect people.” He encouraged all of the Chinese music lovers and future musicians to be ambassadors and to build bridges between the east and west. To help make that a reality, Leehom and Berklee have created a full scholarship in Wang Leehom’s name for Chinese students to attend Berklee, with part of the proceeds from the concert going to the scholarship foundation. The scholarship will be presented next year in China. Since graduating from Berklee, Leehom has committed himself to transforming the landscape of China’s pop music with his hybrid blending of pop, rock, jazz, R&B, hip-hop, classical and traditional Chinese melodies. No doubt, Berklee’s long history of working with diverse musical traditions from cultures all over the world partly inspired Leehom’s genre-hopping creation. “He’s a strong role model for our students – in him we see the possibilities for young, international musicians who come to Berklee, gain the tools and skills they need, and return to their roots, enriching the world and its music,” said Matthew Nicholl, associate vice president for Global Studies. Berklee has been a destination for international musicians since its founding in 1945. Today, nearly 36% of all Berklee students are from outside the U.S. With over 100 colleges and universities, Massachusetts is considered a global hub of top-tier education, attracting students from around the world. The Berklee College of Music, which has alumni from over 40 countries, is a place where aspiring musicians can explore opportunities and possibilities here in Massachusetts, just like Leehom Wang did.
Massachusetts Celebrates International Jazz Day
Devlin’s in Brighton April 30 is International Jazz Day, when musicians and music lovers around the world celebrate jazz by performing live concerts, bringing music to the classrooms and singing the praises of this distinctly American art form that is now shared around the globe. In Massachusetts, every day seems like international jazz day: the Commonwealth has a vibrant, year-round jazz scene that attracts musicians from across the globe, including Central and South America, Europe, Asia and Australia. Many come here to study or teach at schools like the Berklee College of Music, New England Conservatory, and UMass/Amherst and many others. See a list of Massachusetts colleges offering jazz courses. MassJazz offers live jazz concerts throughout the year, as well as information on jazz radio programs, organizations, and promoters. Here is a schedule of Jazz and Blues festivals in Massachusetts in 2016. For information about visiting Massachusetts any time of year, contact the Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism.
PaxEast 2016 Taps into Massachusetts Creative & Innovation Economies
At first glance, this year’s annual PaxEast 2016 gathering at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center in South Boston resembled a gigantic costume ball, replete with fictional and virtual characters from video games, movies, comic books and the far reaches of someone’s imagination. Massachusetts has a stake in the $67 billion gaming industry, which helps to fuel the state’s creative industries and innovation economy. Tens of thousands of gamers, investors, retailers and experts attend PaxEast each year, supporting the local tourism and hospitality industries. PaxEast is also a valuable stage for aspiring entrepreneurs and game developers to find a ready audience to view new products. One of the most popular elements of the show is the Pax East Indie Showcase, described as “a collection of the best indie games you’ve never heard of available on mobile platforms.” Timothy Loew, executive director of the Massachusetts Digital Games Institute (MassDigi) noted the top local video game companies on the Expo Hall floor, included Harmonix, Proletariat, The Deep End Games and The Molasses Flood among a number of others. Numerous Massachusetts schools exhibited, including Becker College in Worcester; Elms College in Chicopee, Mount Ida College in Newton and the Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI). “Each year the Boston-area game scene, like PAX East, gets bigger and more exciting,” Lowe says. “With more people playing more games on more devices in more places than ever before, I already can’t wait until the next PaxEast in 2017.” To learn more about the state’s Video Gaming opportunities, contact Massachusetts Digital Games Institute (MassDigi). Here is a schedule of upcoming conventions in Massachusetts. For information about visiting Massachusetts, go to MassVacation.com.
Massachusetts Plans for 400th Anniversaries in Cities and Towns
(EOHED Secretary Jay Ash and the Plymouth 400 Board of Directors. Image Credits: Denise Maccaferri Photography) History matters in Massachusetts, as evidenced by the Massachusetts 400 Forum held in Plymouth last week, where 150 state and elected officials, tourism leaders, educators, cultural activists and international representatives gathered to make plans for some exciting milestones fast approaching. Hosted by Plymouth 400, Inc., the all-day forum featured presentations, panel discussions and breakout sessions about how Massachusetts can capitalize on the opportunities on the horizon for cities and towns approaching their 400th anniversary. These include Plymouth (1620), Quincy (2025), Salem (2026), and Boston (2030), as well as various other cities and towns in Massachusetts such as Gloucester, Hull, Chelsea, Swampscott and others. See list of Massachusetts cities and towns and year of origin. State Senator Vinny deMacedo welcomed the participants to his district, noting the international flavor of the forum, with participants from the UK and Netherlands. Also on hand were officials from the General Society of Mayflower Descendants, a worldwide group of people who trace their lineage to the original Pilgrims on the Mayflower voyage; and leaders of the Wampanoag Tribe, the indigenous people who were already settled here when the Pilgrims arrived in 1620. Jay Ash, Secretary of the Executive Office of Housing & Economic Development (EOHED) was the keynote speaker at the forum. He praised the work of the Plymouth 400 group and said the upcoming anniversaries provided an opportunity to celebrate the entire Commonwealth, while also elevating the state’s tourism industry. “We are ready to engage in a discussion about how we look at tourism as the major economic engine that it is,” Ash said. While much of the anniversary events will focus on the state’s history, heritage and culture, attendees were also excited about the Mayflower Autonomous Research Ship/MARS project, which “aims to design, build and sail the world’s first full-sized, fully autonomous unmanned ship across the Atlantic Ocean.” Representing the cities and towns were Mayor Kim Driscoll of Salem, Mayor Tom Koch of Quincy, Selectmen Chair Kenneth Tavares of Plymouth, and Tourism, Culture and Sports Director Ken Brissette of Boston. Also represented at the meeting were the Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism, Massachusetts Cultural Council, Massachusetts Development and Plymouth County Convention & Visitors Bureau. Michele Pecoraro, Executive Director of Plymouth 400, said, the Massachusetts 400 initiative was developed “to unify the state in commemorating our collective histories. By bringing these communities together, we will not only ensure the greatest possible economic impact, we will also ensure through cross promotion that the increased tourism and visibility is sustained for years to come.” For more information, visit Massachusetts 400 Forum.
Berklee BeanTown Festival Kicks off Autumn of Massachusetts Jazz Fests
(Caption: Jazz Trumpet Player Christian Scott Performing at Beantown on September 26) Jazz is everywhere in Massachusetts – on college campuses, in hotels and restaurants, night clubs and coffee shops, concert halls and outdoor venues. And it flourishes all year round. Last Spring, Governor Charlie Baker issued a Proclamation declaring April to be Jazz Month in Massachusetts, calling jazz “one of America’s most treasured imports” and praising the state’s “rich jazz heritage.” The 2015 fall festival season kicks off with the Berklee Beantown Jazz Festival in Boston’s South End. The free, annual, outdoor festival runs from noon to 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, September 26, 2015. The festival stretches across six blocks, filled with live music on multiple stages, an array of food vendors from all over the world, and local artisans who are selling their wares. This year’s theme is Jazz: The Voice of the People, and features amazing contemporary artists like trumpeter Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, clarinet master Felix Peikli, the Mosaic Project featuring Terri Lyne Carrington and Jaguar Wright, Latin percussionist Eguie Castrillo Orchestra, sax player George Garzone, and New Orleans singer Ledisi. Beantown also features dozens of great performers from the Berklee College of Music faculty and students. Here is a full roster of performers. Below is a schedule of other upcoming jazz festivals in Massachusetts through October, 2015. September 27-October 4 JazzFest Falmouth 2015 Three-time Grammy Nominee Denise Donatelli, Toni Lynn Washington, Jon Weber, Goodis & Glenn are among the performers. Also, outdoor jazz strolls, jazz brunch and lectures. October 8-11 HONK! Festival Davis Square, Somerville Harvard Square, Cambridge Activist street bands from all over the world converge to Honk! each year. The 2015 roster includes Brazil, Italy, Germany and Britain. Check out local favorites Dirty Water Brass Band and Samba Tremeterra, as well as the Hot 8 from New Orleans. October 9-18 Pittsfield City Jazz Festival Six-time Grammy winner Randy Brecker performs with the Greg Hopkins Jazz Orcestra, plus jazz virtuoso Frank Vignola, the poupular jazz crawl on Columbus Day weekend, jazz prodigy concert, jazz brunch, and nightly jazz in clubs and restaurants. October 10 Holyoke Latin Jazz Festival Holyoke War Memorial Auditorium Downtown Holyoke Latin Jazz bands include Victor Sterling & Sabor a Timba, WILO & DeLomas & Sones Band and Dino & Su Alegre Swing. For year round info on live jazz, visit MassJazz.com. For visitor information go to MassVacation.com.
OUTSIDE THE BOX FESTIVAL CELEBRATES THE ARTS IN MASSACHUSETTS
(Caption: Shea Rose is performing at Outside the Box on Sunday, July 19) Photo Courtesy of MOTT If anyone needs reminding of the power of the arts to inspire, enlighten, engage and entertain, then make your way to the Outside the Box Performing Arts Festival on Boston Common this weekend to understand why arts and culture are celebrated here in Massachusetts. Over 70 performers are appearing at the nation’s oldest public park (1634) in downtown Boston on multiple stages, tents, lawns and walkways, providing some of the best live music, dance and theater you’ll hear this summer. See full schedule here. And best of all, Outside the Box is free. In fact, Outside the Box is just one of hundreds of free activities taking place across the Bay State this summer. The Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism (MOTT) just released its Wicked Free Summer Fun calendar of over 400 free activities of interest to visitors and residents alike. They range from free concerts, museum visits and walking tours to outdoor movies, beaches and food festivities. The events are divided into six regions for easy access. The visionary behind Outside the Box is Ted Cutler, a Dorchester native and Emerson College alumnus who is one of the city’s most involved philanthropists. A musician, bandleader and impresario himself, Ted’s appreciation of arts and culture inspired him, along with his late wife Joan, to envision, organize and finally present Outside The Box, now in its second year. “The arts have the power to inspire people of all ages, from all backgrounds. But to be inspired, individuals must have both access and exposure,” he said. “That’s where Outside The Box comes in. We want to bring a community together, in a celebration of all the arts has to offer. Come for one performance and you may end up staying for five, and returning throughout the week. We want to expose people to acts they never imagined.” Nationally known acts like Gin Blossoms, contestants from the hit TV show The Voice, Guster and Kacey Musgraves are the headliners of this year’s festival, and receiving their rightful share of attention. But what is most impressive about the festival is the scope, diversity and breadth of the local performers who really make Outside the Box an authentic Boston event. The Boston Landmarks Orchestra, Bill Banfield and the Jazz Urbane, Boston Lyric Opera and the Boston Ballet School are just some of the local institutions performing at Outside the Box. The final day of the festival, Sunday, July 19 offers a nice showcase of Boston-based artists, says spokeswoman Erin Callanan, including “Will Dailey, Shea Rose, Ruby Rose Fox, Bad Rabbits and Air Traffic Controller – all local bands on the verge of big things.” For more information about visiting Massachusetts, go to MassVacation.com
Massachusetts Celebrates Jazz
April 30 is International Jazz Day, when musicians and music lovers around the world celebrate jazz by performing live concerts, bringing music to the classrooms and singing the praises of this distinctly American art form that is now shared around the globe. In Massachusetts, every day seems like international jazz day: the Commonwealth has a vibrant, year-round jazz scene that attracts musicians from across the globe, including Central and South America, Europe, Asia and Australia. Many come here to study or teach at schools like the Berklee College of Music, New England Conservatory, and UMass/Amherst and many others. See a list of Massachusetts colleges offering jazz courses. Earlier this month, Governor Charlie Baker issued a Proclamation declaring April to be Jazz Month in Massachusetts, calling jazz “one of America’s most treasured imports” and praising the state’s “rich jazz heritage.” Massachusetts may be the only state in the USA to have developed a specific tourism initiative to promote jazz to visitors coming to the state. MassJazz was launched in 2009 to provide year-round information on the state’s many jazz resources, from festivals, concerts and campus events to jazz in hotels, restaurants and night clubs. Run out of the Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism, MassJazz updates jazz listings on its web site, and issues a free annual travel guide each summer that is distributed at visitor stops around the state. The summer and fall are particularly good times to hear jazz in Massachusetts, with dozens of outdoor jazz festivals running from May through October. Here is the 2015 Jazz Festival schedule. Also of interest is the 9th annual Jazz Week 2015, which runs April 25-May 3, 2015. It is organized by JazzBoston, a non-profit group that celebrates the area’s jazz scene and also brings jazz education into local schools. Live jazz is just one of the many performing arts idioms that make Massachusetts an exciting destination for visitors interested in arts and culture. You can find details of upcoming cultural activities at MassVacation.com.
Massachusetts Senate Conducting “Commonwealth Conversations” in February & March
The Massachusetts Senate has launched a state wide listening tour called Commonwealth Conversations, a series of grassroots forums designed to connect state legislators directly with constituents to hear their ideas, concerns and suggestions. The series kicked off on February 4, 2015 in Western Massachusetts, and continues on Wednesday, February 11 with a public forum in Central Massachusetts being held at 6:30 p.m. at the UMass Medical School – Aaron Lazare Medical Research Building in Worchester. Senate President Stanley C. Rosenberg noted recently that “the best ideas are often found not within these halls but in our neighborhoods and our coffee shops, in our board rooms and union halls, in our office break rooms and at our family tables.” In a video announcing the Commonwealth Conversations, Senate President Rosenberg was joined by Senator Bruce E. Tarr, Minority Leader of the MA Senate, and Senator Michael. J. Rodrigues, Chair of the Commonwealth Conversations. Senator Tarr said, “These forums are part of an effort to make your government even more accessible and responsive to you. State Senators from around the Commonwealth will be listening to what you have to say, and working hard to make sure they carry your voices and your ideas back to Beacon Hill.” “So that’s where your Senators will be over the next few weeks,” Rosenberg continued, “listening to your ideas, and following up on our promise of shared leadership with the people of the Commonwealth.” Here is a schedule of the upcoming forums: February 23 / North Shore February 25 / South Shore March 2 / Metro West March 4 / Metro Boston March 11 / South Coast March 18 / Southeast For more information, visit Commonwealth Conversations web site, and follow on Twitter #MAConvos.
Berklee High School Jazz Festival Deserves its Encore!
Thousands of jazz students from across the United States are streaming into Massachusetts for the 47th annual Berklee High School Jazz Festival, taking place on Saturday, January 31, 2015 at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston’s Back Bay. The festival is free and open to the public. The largest event of its kind in the country, the festival features 200+ jazz bands and over 3,000 students from 13 states and Puerto Rico. They journey here each year to compete for top prizes in categories like Big Bands, Combos and Vocal Jazz Ensembles, plus in individual instrumental competitions. The top ranked ensembles get partial scholarships to Berklee’s prestigious Five Week Summer Performance Program, which tutors jazz musicians from around the world on the finer points of America’s most original music. Berklee College of Music, founded as a music teaching studio in 1945, is considered the premier jazz education university in the world, producing some of the world’s top musicians, composers and producers, and scooping more Grammy Awards than any other institution. The High School Jazz Festival is just one of many programs to cultivate musical, creative and technical skills available in Massachusetts. Along with Berklee, other schools with distinctive music programs include New England Conservatory, Boston Conservatory, Longy School of Music, and the University of Massachusetts campuses at Amherst and Lowell. Here is a list of jazz education programs in Massachusetts. Jazz lovers rightly refer to New Orleans as the birthplace of jazz, and cities like Chicago, Memphis, Nashville, San Francisco and New York all boast great music communities. But Boston is unique in having a vibrant, bustling music scene that is enhanced by the outstanding teaching institutions that draw aspiring musicians from around the world. To find out about live jazz in Massachusetts throughout the year, visit MassJazz.com To the musicians competing at the Berklee High School Jazz Festival this weekend, we say, Encore!
Charlie Baker Becomes Governor of Massachusetts on January 8, 2015
(Photo Courtesy of State House News) Charlie Baker was sworn into office as the 72nd Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on Thursday, January 8, 2015. Governor Baker delivered his inaugural address to the joint session of the Massachusetts state legislature at the State House in Boston. Here is the text of Governor Baker’s remarks. Karyn Polito was then sworn in as Lt. Governor of the Commonwealth. Here are Lt. Governor Polito’s remarks. Governor Baker joins an illustrious list of governors from Massachusetts that dates back to John Hancock (1789-1793). Contact the Governor’s Office here, and follow Governor Baker on twitter.
Massachusetts – the Home of First Night
(Photo Courtesy of First Night Boston) Massachusetts boasts a lot of firsts in its illustrious history, and celebrating First Night each New Year’s Eve is one of them. First Night Boston is officially the world’s first First Night. Launched on Boston Common on December 31, 1976, it featured costumed performers with fancy head-dresses, pet shows and square dancing, as well as a Senegalese 20-man dancing dragon, gospel singers and a musical opera based on the Grimm fairy tales. Organized by local arts advocate Clara Wainwright, along with the Mayor’s Office in Boston, the MBTA, and others, First Night was actually inspired by the Fourth of July celebrations that took place in 1976 for the nation’s bicentennial. Since then, the First Night model has spread to over 200 other cities and towns around the world, including several long-standing celebrations in Massachusetts. Here are First Night celebrations happening right now, along with a suggested highlight for each: Beverly - Grand Procession Parade Chatham –Sandcastles Nantucket – Festival of Trees New Bedford – Toe Jam Puppet Band Northampton – Raising of the Ball Rockport – Jazz, Celtic, Classical Music Sandwich – Bio-Luminescence green-theme parade Worcester – Multicultural Festival Now in its 39th year, First Night Boston, continues the fine traditions of the original organizers, which was to connect Bostonians with “many of the traditional ways New Year’s Eve is celebrated in the cultures from which it originated,” while creating a “positive spirit in a broad-based, joyous, annual celebration.” You can purchase a button to help support the event and get into special performances. This year’s First Night Boston schedule begins at 9:30 a.m. with a full day of cultural activities, artist displays, children’s parade and hundreds of workshops, performances, and special events. It ends with a fireworks display taking place in the skies over Boston Harbor at midnight. First Night is a wonderful way for communities to come together, and it is also good for tourism, small business and for the creative economy in Massachusetts. Up to one million people are expected to attend Boston’s First Night, and thousands more at the other celebrations. To find out more about visiting Massachusetts any time of year, go to MassVacation.com.
Massachusetts Supports Its Creative Economy
Western Massachusetts will soon have the largest contemporary art museum in the nation, thanks to an ambitious expansion taking place at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (Mass MoCa) in North Adams. Phase III of the expansion is underway now, and when it is completed in 2017, the museum will have doubled its gallery space to 250,000 square feet. That is exciting news for the museum, which opened in 1999 on the site of a 19th century mill complex and has gained a global reputation for showcasing large-scale works of art by some of the world’s leading artists. Nearly 120,000 visitors attend exhibits at the museum each year. The $55 million expansion phase got a welcome boost recently when Governor Deval Patrick joined state and local officials, museum leaders and the arts community to announce $25.4 million in state funding. The grant is funded through the Governor’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 Capital Plan. The museum has already raised $13.5 million of $30 million in private contributions. “Through funding our creative industry infrastructure, we are continuing to create a more vibrant place for our students to learn, our families to live and our businesses to grow,” Patrick told the audience. Here is a short video on MassMoCa. Governor Patrick has been a strong proponent of the state’s creative industries, which employs over 100,000 people and has a $1 billion economy impact each year. The expanded Mass MoCa will solidify the museum’s link to the North Adams downtown business district through new biking and pedestrian pathways and bridges. That in turn will be good for the tourism industry. “This project will not only attract more visitors to the Berkshires every year, but will also help keep them here longer,” said Joseph Thompson, director of Mass MoCa. Mass MoCa is just one of the excellent art museums in the northwest corner of Massachusetts; others include the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute and the Williams College Museum of Art. Here is a list of museums throughout Massachusetts. Governor Patrick’s FY 2015 Capital Plan also provides $15 million for the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund to help increase investments from both the public sector and private sector to support the sound planning and development of cultural facilities across Massachusetts. The Patrick Administration has invested nearly $70 million in the Massachusetts creative sector in projects in 118 cities and towns since 2007.
Governor Deval Patrick: Transition of State Government
Governor Deval Patrick unveiled his Transition of State Government initiative with a series of transition videos to help ensure a smooth passage from his administration to Governor-elect Charlie Baker. “Congratulations to the Governor-elect, Lieutenant Governor-elect and their team on winning the election,” Governor Patrick said. “Now it’s time to prepare to govern, and we hope this website will help you and all citizens understand the substance of the work of this Administration as you assume continuing responsibility for it.”
Congratulations MassChallenge Class of 2014
The 5th annual MassChallenge Awards at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center in Boston’s Seaport District this week was an inspiring event from start to finish. Guest speakers included renowned entrepreneurs and innovators Travis Kalanick, co-founder and CEO of Uber Technologies and Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google, as well as Nancy E. Frates, co-creator of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. The main event of the evening was the announcements of $1.75 million in awards to the best startup companies of the year. Four companies won the top prize of $100,000 each, followed by 12 companies winning $50,000 each, totaling $1 million. And in addition, 23 other companies won a variety of prizes totaling $750,000, as part of the MassChallenge Side Car prizes. The Side Car grants were sponsored by CASIS and Boeing, the John W. Henry Family Foundation, Microsoft, MassIT and Perkins School for the Blind. Here is a full list of the 2014 MassChallenge winners. Congratulations to all of the contestants and to the winners. Prior to the event, MassChallenge CEO John Hawthorne presented a special award to Governor Deval Patrick for his work promoting innovation and technology. In fact, the governor became the recipient of the first annual Deval L. Patrick Commonwealth Innovation Award, which will be given in subsequent years to a deserving individual. Kalanick praised Patrick for helping to create an environment where companies like Uber could succeed. Schmidt echoed that praise, adding that “If you want to solve the economic problems of the U.S., create more entrepreneurs and get more immigrants in as well.” This year’s top prize winners include: Catie’s Closet, which improves school attendance and removes social stigmas by providing clothing and necessities to students living in poverty; Disease Diagnostic Group, which is creating a hand-held malaria diagnosis device; Drinkwell, which converts arsenic and fluoride water into safe drinking water; and SQZ Biotech, an MIT biotech startup that squeezes molecules into cells.
Economic Impact Award Finalists Call A “Gateway City” Home
(Caption:Massachusetts Gateway Cities. Top l-r: Lowell, Brockton, Lawrence; Bottom L-r: Leominster, Chicopee, Fall River.) (Information for this blog was submitted by MassEcon) Gateway Cities may have been overshadowed in the past by the well-known economic hubs of Boston and Cambridge, but recently, Gateway Cities have been getting more well-deserved attention for playing a significant role in the Commonwealth’s economy, both from public officials and in the private sector by organizations like MassEcon. Nearly 40% of the finalists for MassEcon’s 11th Annual Team Massachusetts Economic Impact Awards call one of the 26 Massachusetts Gateway Cities home: Affordable Interior Systems in Leominster; Asahi/America and Solectria Renewables in Lawrence; PlumChoice in Lowell; Crown Uniform & Linen Service in Brockton; Matouk in Fall River; Menck Windows in Chicopee; and Nuclea Biotechnologies in Pittsfield. These companies represent a variety of industries – from manufacturing to commercial laundry to bio-pharmaceutical to luxury textile industries – and, along with the 13 other finalist companies from around the Commonwealth, they have been recognized by MassEcon for their expansion, investment, jobs and community involvement. The finalist companies in Gateway Cities have made significant contributions to their communities by investing nearly $69 million in properties, expanding in more than 800,000 square feet and adding 370 jobs since January 1, 2013. Representatives from each of these companies joined the other finalists on September 17 at a reception hosted at Nutter McClennen & Fish LLP where they delivered their company’s stories. Finalists will be awarded Gold, Silver, and Bronze standings at the Team Massachusetts Economic Impact Awards Luncheon on November 25 at the Renaissance Boston Waterfront Hotel. These winners will be announced during the week of September 29. Click here for the latest updates. MassEcon has recognized the growth of companies in Gateway Cities with its Economic Impact Awards, and also with its ReadyMass100 program. Since launching the ReadyMass100 program just five years ago, MassEcon has gained a strong presence in 26 properties in 14 of the Gateway Cities, covering more than 604 acres and more than 2.5 million square feet. Each of the ReadyMass 100 properties has been rigorously evaluated by a team of real estate experts in concert with state partners and is certified for immediate occupancy or development. The properties have met key criteria relating to infrastructure, permitting, size and readiness. This chart illustrates the presence of ReadyMass100 properties in Gateway Cities throughout the Commonwealth: For more information regarding Gateway Cities visit MassEcon.com or contact MassEcon Senior Director Doug Kehlhem at email@example.com
Massachusetts Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month through October 15
(Photograph: Courtesy of IBA-Inquilinos Boricuas en Accion) Massachusetts is celebrating the 26th annual Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15-October 15, 2014, with events taking place that recognize the contributions and experiences of Latino constituencies around the Commonwealth. Governor Deval Patrick issued an official proclamation for Hispanic Heritage Month which he presented to community leaders at a special event held at the State House on October 1. There was a display of Hispanic artists and musical expression, and an opportunity for networking to continue the advancement and collaboration in leadership roles. Speaking on the theme of the gathering, “Civic Reflections: Promoting Diversity in Leadership,” Governor Patrick talked about the importance of community that is the hallmark of Hispanics and other ethnic communities, adding, “If we keep that sense of community alive, if we make it an integral part of the work we are doing in and between government and our citizens, I’m confident our best days are ahead.” The Patrick Administration has recognized the needs of this emerging community and continues to advance a range of social and public policies that have positively impacted the economic, social and political climate of Latinos. Governor Patrick’s proclamation recognizes that the nations of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico and Chile, all celebrate their independence between September 15 and September 18. A number of other celebrations have taken place around the Commonwealth. In Springfield, the Massachusetts Latino Chamber of Commerce held its 10th annual Hispanic Heritage Gala, as a way of recognizing “outstanding entrepreneurs, corporations and government leaders for their accomplishments and contributions to the Latino Business community,” said Carlos Gonzalez, founder and president of the Chamber. In Boston, El Mundo newspaper hoisted its annual Hispanic Heritage Breakfast, and honored Boston Marathon hero Carlos Arrendondo and his wife Melida Arrenondo. Jose Masso III, host of Boston’s popular radio show, Con Salsa, was given the Lifetime Achievement Award for his influence in promoting Hispanic culture in Massachusetts for over four decades. Last month, the New England Patriots Charitable Fund presented its Hispanic Heritage Leadership Award to Dr. Vanessa Calderon-Rosado, Ph.D., CEO of the IBA-Inquilinos Boricuas en Accion, for her dedication serving and giving back to the Latino community. According to the U.S. Census Bureau data, there are 53 million Hispanics in the U.S. In Massachusetts, over 10% of the state’s 6.6 million residents identify themselves as Hispanic or Latino. The Latino population is rapidly growing; as such social issues similar to other minority communities are prevalent. Find out more about National Hispanic Heritage Month by visiting the United States Library of Congress. Finally, if you’re looking to experience the best of Latin music in Massachusetts, check out the Holyoke Latin Jazz Festival, taking place on Friday, October 10 at the War Memorial Building in Holyoke.
Assembly Row is the New Orange
(Caption: Artists Rendering of Assembly Row) The Assembly Station train stop along the MBTA Orange Line opened this week in Somerville, and the excitement was palatable among commuters as well as business owners and state and local officials. For one thing, it was the first new station added by the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA) in twenty-seven years; the daily projected ridership at Assembly is expected to be up to 5,400 passengers by 2030. But more so, the new train stop is a harbinger of great things to come for the $1.4 billion Assembly Row project, which is part of an exciting strategy by public officials to create unique new communities where residents have easy access to transportation, jobs, housing, and recreational and entertainment opportunities. The development will include more than 2.8 million square feet of office space, 635,000 square feet of retail, restaurant and entertainment uses, and 1,813 homes. It will feature public benefits like a waterfront park and new bike and pedestrian paths connecting existing neighborhoods with the new development. The first phase, with 448 apartments, scores of retail shops and restaurants and more, is already open. “We invest in infrastructure to catalyze private development, revitalize urban neighborhoods and bolster growth and opportunity across the Commonwealth,” said Governor Deval Patrick, who visited the new station on September 2, opening day. “The new Assembly Orange Line station is a concrete reminder of what can be achieved through public-private partnership and investment in our communities.” Governor Patrick was joined at the opening by U.S. Congressman Michael Capuano, who helped secure federal funds for the station, Mass DOT Secretary and CEO Richard Davey, MBTA General Manager Dr. Beverly Scott, Somerville Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone and other local officials. The new Assembly station is funded through a combination of federal, state and private investment. The total cost of the station is $56 million with the Executive Office of Housing & Economic Development (EOHED) contributing $25 million through a MassWorks grant, $16 million in federal funds and a $15 million investment from Federal Realty Investment Trust, the developers of the Assembly Row project. EOHED Secretary Greg Bialecki noted that “Assembly Row is an excellent example of a well-rounded development project that aligns our jobs, housing and transportation needs to better serve our residents. Through these types of collaborative efforts we are making our communities great places to live, work and play.” To learn more about the Patrick Administration’s strategy for economic growth through investments in innovation, infrastructure and education, go to Choosing to Compete in the 21st Century.
United Airlines’ Hemispheres Magazine Features Massachusetts
Check out the September 2014 issue of Hemispheres Magazine, the in-flight magazine of United Airlines. There is a 15 page spread devoted to Massachusetts in its Dossier series, which features an “in-depth overview of a region, including the unique initiatives that shape its industry and commerce as well as its influence on today’s global economy.” Both Governor Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Martin Walsh are profiled in the issue. The supplement describes Massachusetts as “one of America’s favorite places to do business,” and says that Governor Patrick “leaves a state that ranks among the leaders in everything from student achievement to economic competitiveness and entrepreneurial activity.” A number of state officials are cited in the publication, including Greg Bialecki, Secretary of Housing & Economic Development; Susan Windham-Bannister, President & CEO of Massachusetts Life Sciences, James Rooney, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority; Thomas Glynn, CEO of Massport, and Robert Caret, President of the University of Massachusetts. Among the Massachusetts companies featured are the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center, Raytheon Company and Partners Healthcare. In April 2014, United Airlines opened a new concourse at Terminal B at Boston’s Logan International Airport. Governor Patrick said at the time, “With increased customer service and convenience, United’s presence in Terminal B will continue to make Boston a top destination for domestic and international travel.”
Collaborative Workspace Grants Available to Massachusetts’ Gateway Cities
(Photo: Collaborative Workspace at Brooklyn Boulders Somerville) Entrepreneurs have an exciting new opportunity to create collaborative work spaces in Gateway Cities across the Commonwealth. Thanks to the Gateway Cities Transformative Development Fund, entrepreneurs can apply for up to $2 million in matching grants to own, sponsor or operate collaborative workspace. State officials believe these spaces help spur business growth and economic activity in Gateway Cities. “Collaborative workspaces inspire communities of innovation,” says Greg Bialecki, Secretary of Housing and Economic Development. “These shared environments are hubs of economic activity, and are a very important part of our overall growth strategy.” The Gateway Cities Transformative Development Fund, totaling over $16 million, is part of An Act to Promote Economic Growth in the Commonwealth, which Governor Deval Patrick signed into law on August 13, 2014. Managed by MassDevelopment, the Fund enables equity investments and technical assistance to support transformative development in Gateway communities. “The sharing economy has driven demand for flexible, dynamic workspaces, especially in Gateway Cities,” says Marty Jones, MassDevelopment President and CEO. “We look forward to seeing the spaces that will spring from this first phase of the Transformative Development Initiative.” Interested applicants can access the Request for Proposals for the grants, which can be used for construction, improvements, or equipment for new spaces or for existing facility expansions. Collaborative workspaces often feature open floor plans, community meeting spaces, and other features to encourage connections between tenants. Earlier this spring, Housing & Economic Development staff held workshops across the state to familiarize prospective developers, operators, funders and public officials with collaborative space opportunities. Gateway Cities are defined as having: a population greater than 35,000 but less than 250,000; a median household income below the state average; and a population whose rate of attainment of a college degree is below the state average. Massachusetts’ new economic development plan has been praised recently by Inc. Magazine for supporting “business communities outside of the traditional business thoroughfares of Boston and Cambridge.” And Fortune Magazine praised Massachusetts for creating “a model based on public-private partnership, a promising blueprint other states should follow.”
Museums Showcase Massachusetts’ Cultural and Historical Richness
(Caption: A Model of the Whaler ‘Lagoda‘. Photo Courtesy of the New Bedford Whaling Museum.) by Kennedy Stomps From the heights of the Berkshires to the tip of Cape Cod, Massachusetts is a museum lover’s haven, offering an inspiring array of museums that reflect the state’s cultural richness and diversity. They range from world renowned museums like the Museum of Fine Arts, Harvard Museum of Natural History and Mass MoCA, to local favorites like the Fuller Craft Museum, Museum of Russian Icons, and the Fruitlands Museum, and even the downright quirky—like the Spellman Museum of Stamps and Postal History, the Plumbing Museum and the Edward Gorey House. The Commonwealth’s commitment to the cultural arts is a longstanding tradition. In the Massachusetts Constitution, John Adams writes that it “shall be the duty of legislatures…in all future periods of this commonwealth, to cherish the interests of literature and the sciences…[and] to encourage private societies and public institutions.” Today, the more-than 500 museums in Massachusetts contribute millions of dollars to local and state economies, and provide hundreds of jobs in their respective regions, while contributing to the state’s creative economy and tourism industry. Overall, cultural institutions attract 14 million visitors to the state each year, generating a total annual economic impact of over $3.4 billion. Visitors can go inside Norman Rockwell’s studio, explore the country’s largest collection of textiles and tools and take in works by Monet, Degas and Renoir here in Massachusetts. And with museums featuring collections of Japanese Samurai armor, Asian and African art and Greek and Roman sculpture, you don’t need a passport to see some of the finest art from around the world. Those interested in the rich history of the Commonwealth can step aboard the Mayflower II or into a 17th century English town, meet the organizers of the Boston Tea Party, learn about whaling and the maritime tradition and experience life in a historic Shaker village. Sports fans will definitely want to take a “time out” to visit the Naismith Basketball Museum, Volleyball Hall of Fame, Golf Museum and TD Gardens Sports Museum. Finally, a trip to Massachusetts wouldn’t be complete without visiting one of the state’s many Presidential sites. Visitors can check out the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, Adams National Historic Park, the John F. Kennedy Birthplace, the Calvin Coolidge Presidential Library and the John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum. In September, the Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism is presenting an exhibit of Massachusetts museums at the Newton Free Library. The display will be located in the main Atrium of the library which is located at 330 Homer St. in Newton Center. The library is open Monday-Thursday 9:00 am-9:00 pm, Friday 9:00 am-6:00 pm and Saturday 9:00 am -5:00 pm and the display is free and open to the public, so stop by!
Cape Cod National Seashore – A Massachusetts Treasure
(Caption: Coast Guard Beach in Eastham, Photo by Margo Tabb) Magical, dramatic, inspiring and perfect are just some of the words Trip Advisor visitors use to describe the Cape Cod National Seashore. But words cannot do justice to this unique and diverse natural resource – the Cape Cod National Seashore is a place you must experience for yourself. In 2013, more than 4.5 million visitors journeyed here to enjoy the beaches, marshes, ponds stretching across 43,607 acres on the Outer Cape, a testament to the natural beauty that beckons visitors from around the world. Run by the National Park Service, the sprawling park includes “40 miles of pristine sandy beach, marshes, ponds and uplands (that) support diverse species. Lighthouses, cultural landscapes, and wild cranberry bogs offer a glimpse of Cape Cod’s past and continuing ways of life. Swimming beaches and walking and biking trails beckon today’s visitors.” Among the treasures of the park: - Six beaches, which offer a variety of recreational opportunities, including: Coast Guard and Nauset Light in Eastham, Marconi in Wellfleet, Head of the Meadow in Truro, and Race Point and Herring Cove in Provincetown. - Three bicycle trails, including Nauset Trail in Eastham, Head of the Meadow Trail in Truro and the Province Lands Trail in Provincetown. - Eleven self-guiding trails for walking with the seashore in Eastham, Wellfleet, Truro and Provincetown The credit for protecting and preserving these natural landscapes of the Outer Cape go back to the 1950s, when National Parks officials teamed with public officials and local residents to introduce legislation “for the establishment of Cape Cod National Seashore.” President John F. Kennedy, a proud resident of Cape Cod himself, officially signed the Cape Cod National Seashore Bill on August 7, 1961. He said at the time, “From personal knowledge I realize very well how useful this is going to be for the people of the Cape and Massachusetts and New England and the entire United States.” Today the Cape Cod National Seashore is a viable tourism treasure that helps bolster the local economy and provide jobs. In 2013, visitors spent $185.7 million in communities near the park, and that spending supported 2,226 jobs in the local area, according to the National Parks Service. Across the Commonwealth, NPS maintains 18 parks, consisting of 46,000 acres. Over 10.4 million people visit these parks each year, producing $432 million in economic benefits. National parks are just one of many reasons tourists visit Massachusetts each year, along with history, culture, performing arts, sports and shopping. Find more details on all the Massachusetts has to offer by visiting MassVacation.com.
Massachusetts – The State of Jazz
(Caption: Jazz musicians Grace Kelly and Jason Palmer) Back in the 14th century, when Marco Polo established the Silk Road trade route between Europe and China, he was opening up new connections not just in commerce but also in culture. With new direct flights between Boston Logan International Airport and Panama City, Dubai, Istanbul and Beijing launching over the past year, the Silk Road metaphor seems apt today. Massachusetts has long been a port of call for commerce and tourism, but also a crossroads for immigration, innovation and ideas. We pride ourselves on being in the mix. Jazz itself is a well-traveled Silk Road where artistic expression, cultural traditions and creative ideas are happily exchanged. From its humble beginnings, jazz has carved out an intrepid path that winds its way throughout the world, carrying musical riches far beyond its original borders, and returning home with equal riches from cultures around the world. The 6th annual MassJazz Guide expounds upon this theme by showcasing some of the international musicians who make up the state’s jazz community, including: . Xiongguan Zhang of China, a guitarist from Shanghai Conservatory of Music who is studying jazz at the New England Conservatory. . Utar Artun of Turkey, a composer and multi-instrumentalist at Hacettepe University who came to Berklee College of Music on a full scholarship, and is studying for his master’s degree at New England Conservatory. . Panos Panay, a native of Cyprus who is heading up the new Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship at Berklee College of Music. Panos started Sonicbids, a leading platform for bands to book gigs and market themselves online. . Emilio Lyons, who hails from Salerno, Italy, was recently honored by the Jazz Journalists Association and JazzBoston for his decades-long work as the legendary saxophone repairman at Rayburn Music. The 2014 MassJazz Guide, published by the Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism, celebrates Massachusetts’ robust jazz scene, which includes festivals, jazz clubs and educational programs. There is a vibrant grassroots scene, including jazz drummers Bart Weisman and Stanley Swann, who keep the music robust here in Massachusetts; radio hosts Christopher Lydon and Jose Masso, who share their love and knowledge of jazz with their listeners; and music emissaries Sue Auclair and Fred Taylor, whose influence in the jazz world far exceeds this locality. Jazz is an important part of the cultural and artistic environment that helps make Massachusetts a great place to live, work, study and visit. It is part of the Massachusetts creative economy, which employs over 100,000 people and generates over $1 billion in economic impact for the state. MassJazz Guide is available at visitor centers, jazz venues and college campuses across the state. Find up to date details on live jazz in Massachusetts at MassJazz.com.
Massachusetts Invests in its Cultural Facilities
(Caption: Lexington Historical Society Building) Massachusetts just reaffirmed its commitment to culture, education and the performing arts by awarding $14 million in grants to 81 new building projects for nonprofit arts and cultural groups, schools and communities across the Commonwealth. This latest round of awards is part of the Cultural Facilities Fund (CFF), which has invested nearly $70 million in the state’s creative sector in 118 cities and towns since 2007. Here is a a list of the grants . The grants help restore many of Massachusetts’ historic buildings, which in turn preserve the character of many cities and towns and lead to increased tourism. More than 15 million people visit organizations funded by the Mass Cultural Facilities Fund annually, with nearly one third of those visitors coming from out-of-state. Governor Deval Patrick was at the Barrington Stage Company in Pittsfield this morning to celebrate the new awards and to speak about his strategy for growth, which is focused on education, innovation and infrastructure. “Investments in our creative economy stimulate growth and opportunity in every corner of the Commonwealth,” Governor Patrick said. “Through this new round of funding, we are continuing to create a more vibrant place for our students to learn, our families to live and our businesses to grow.” Administered jointly by the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) and MassDevelopment, the Cultural Facilities Fund’s goal is to increase investments from both the public sector and private sector so that cultural facilities in Massachusetts can benefit from sound planning and development. In addition to the 81 capital grants, the FY14 round of funding also includes 48 planning grants. The capital grants range from $7,000 to $600,000 and must be matched with funds from private philanthropy and/or other public sources. The creative economy is an important sector of the state’s economy, employing over 100,000 workers and generating $1 billion for Massachusetts. Last month, the Patrick Administration convened an all-day Creative Economy Summit at the Massachusetts College of Art & Design in Boston, where leaders met to collaborate and to celebrate the state’s robust and enduring creative community.
The Boston Pops – Streaming Live from Massachusetts
(Caption: Boston Pops Independence Day Concert on the Esplanade) There are few Fourth of July celebrations more festive, heartfelt and enduring than the annual Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular that takes place at the Hatch Shell along the Charles River Esplanade. Conductor Keith Lockhart leads the world-famous Pops orchestra and guest artists through a joyful collection of patriotic songs, classical melodies and pop hits that appeal to the hundreds of thousands of spectators who attend. This year’s show takes place on Thursday, July 3, 2014, starting at 8:00 p.m. Now, for the first time, viewers around the nation and the world can enjoy the concert online by watching a live web stream of the entire show, sponsored by the Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism. The webcast will remain available for 24 days on BostonPopsJuly4.org. “Thanks to the generosity of the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism, we couldn’t be happier to announce the first-ever webcast of the event, giving us the potential of reaching millions of additional music-loving patriots throughout the country and beyond,” Lockhart said. “That’s great news for this country’s leading Independence Day celebration!” Among the guest performers this year are the Beach Boys, Broadway star Megan Hilty and the award-winning Boston Children’s Chorus. Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick is a special guest and will narrate a newly commissioned Boston Pops arrangement of the Star-Spangled Banner in honor of the 200th anniversary of the song in 2014. In addition, MOTT is offering viewers a chance to win a trip to Boston to conduct the Boston Pops in during its spring season in 2015. You can enter the contest by tweeting on Twitter with #WatchThePops up through July 4, 2014 at 11:59 p.m. Here are full details. The Boston Pops Firework Spectacular is just one of hundreds of festivities taking place all across Massachusetts on Independence Day weekend. You can find a full schedule here. And finally, Massachusetts is a terrific place to visit any time of year! To see all that Massachusetts has to offer, visit MassVacation.com.
Massachusetts’ Economy Gets Creative
(Caption: Governor Deval Patrick addresses the Creative Economy Summit) When it comes to the creative economy, Massachusetts gets it! With over 100,000 workers and a $1 billion statewide economic impact, the creative industries in Massachusetts are an integral part of the Massachusetts economy. Building upon this success was the focus of Massachusetts’ recent Creative Economy Summit, held on June 12 at the Massachusetts College of Art & Design in Boston. Leaders from across the state convened to network, collaborate and envision ways in which the creative and innovative economies can intersect and continue to fuel each other. The impressive turnout included experts and advocates from the performing and visual arts, digital gaming, film industry, architecture, publishing and design, alongside entrepreneurs, innovators, and government officials. The morning kicked off with a welcome by Dawn Barrett, president of Mass College of Art & Design, and an introduction by Greg Bialecki, secretary of the Executive Office of Housing & Economic Development, followed by Helen Fruscio, the state’s Creative Economy Industry Director. “The focus of the summit was on uniting the creative industries and ensuring interactivity among the attendees” says Fruscio. “We wanted everyone to think of new ways to cross-collaborate.” For example, the morning panel, “Future Trends of the Creative Industries,” was a seminar on cross-collaboration, with experts like Lisa Strout, director of the Massachusetts Film Office, Panos Panay, the head of Creative Entrepreneurship at Berklee College of Music, Jon Radoff, founder of Disruptor Beam and Laura Fitton of HubSpot sharing their insights. At the afternoon session, ”Creative Capital,” Jerry Bird of MassVentures, Dan Sullivan of Crowdly, Anita Brearton of Golden Seeds, Bill Warner of Avid Technology and Neil Martin of Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation talked about strategies for funding and bringing creative ideas to market. The panel discussions were followed by the popular ‘unconference’ gatherings with crowd-sourced themed discussions, allowing the participants to gather into smaller groups and discuss a variety of topics. Governor Deval Patrick gave the closing remarks at the Summit, discussing how the Administration’s investments in education, innovation and infrastructure have supported innovation and the creative economy in Massachusetts. Patrick has led the way in making Massachusetts one of the nation’s most creative states. In 2007 he established the position of creative Economy Industry Director at the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development. He helped institute the Creative Economy Council, which develops a statewide strategy for growing the creative economy. He launched the Creative Economy Network, which tracks progress and promotes efforts to support the creative economy on the local, regional and state-wide level, and CreativeNEXT listening tour, a business development program that helps owners of small and medium-sized creative businesses quickly access resources and advice to help grow their enterprises by meeting with an expert panel. At the summit, Governor Patrick reminded participants that “Creativity is central to all that we’re trying to do,” adding, “The innovation economy is also artists, novelists and architects. It’s a source of our growth and civilization.”
Massachusetts’ Sandbox Summit – Entrepreneurship for All
(Caption: Desh Deshpande, founder of Merrimack Valley Sandbox) How do we foster the next generation of entrepreneurs in Massachusetts? One sure way is to bring budding entrepreneurs together with seasoned entrepreneurs, business executives, government officials and academic leaders who are willing to share expertise, insights and encouragement about what it takes to thrive in the state’s robust innovation community. Such was the setting at the second annual Merrimack Valley Sandbox Summit in Lowell this week, an inspiring gathering of creative thinkers, generous mentors and willing collaborators who are working to bring their ideas to market, thereby spurring economic growth at local and regional levels. Over 250 people attended the two-day summit, held at University of Massachusetts in Lowell. Keynote speakers included Deval Patrick, governor of Massachusetts; Gururaj (Desh) Deshpande, founder of the Deshpande Foundation and the Merrimack Valley Sandbox; Akhil Nigam, founder and president of MassChallenge; and Poonam Ahluwalia, executive director of Youth Trade and YES Campaign. Governor Patrick said that expanding opportunity for everyone across the state was a key to economic growth. By focusing on state investments in education, innovation and infrastructure, the Patrick Administration has a deliberate strategy to stimulate growth. “As I see it, growth is a choice…not something we leave to chance, not simply something we hope for, it’s something we work for and choose to bring about,” Patrick said. “Entrepreneurship isn’t just technology – it is creative problem solving in context,” said Deshpande, a theme that echoed throughout the summit as speakers and participants agreed that entrepreneurial opportunities were to be found in all sectors of society and industry. This year’s theme was “Entrepreneurship for All,” which Housing and Economic Development Secretary Greg Bialecki described as “a robust strategy for how we grow the Commonwealth’s economy. Programs like the Merrimack Valley Sandbox are bringing people together focused on choosing growth and innovation, enhancing the competitiveness of the state’s innovation industry for generations to come.” A highlight of the summit was the pitch contests, which featured the region’s top entrepreneurs squaring off against each other for a chance to win cash prizes to fuel their work. Participants said the summit was an ideal opportunity for like-minded individuals to gather and share information, ideas and encouragement in a room full of other focused, creative, problem-solving people. “Massachusetts prides itself on our collaborative approach to economic development, an effort led by the Patrick Administration and the Legislature,” said Patrick Larkin, Director of the Innovation Institute at MassTech Collaborative. “That spirit of cooperation and inclusion is fully on display here today.” “Entrepreneurship can be lonely,” David Parker, Sandbox’s executive director, told the Lowell Sun. “It’s important for people to come together, share ideas, meet each other and look for resources.” The Sandbox Summit was organized by the Merrimack Valley Sandbox, with sponsorship support from the Deshpande Foundation and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, through the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development, and the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative.
LegoLand Discovery Center Opens in Somerville Today
(Caption: Iconic Landmarks of Boston, made with 3 million lego bricks) Photo courtesy of MOTT, Phyllis M. Cahaly If you build it, they will come, so they can build something too! That’s the expectation of the LegoLand Discovery Center in Massachusetts, which opens today in the new Assembly Row complex in Somerville. Expect to see lots of families and earnest young builders descending on the new Center in the coming months, to hone their building skills and to have a lot of fun! Hailed as the company’s largest LegoLand Discovery Center in the world, it is the sixth center to open in North America, and already tickets are going fast. The buzz started in January when Lego officials held a two day competition at the Boston Public Library to find the best lego builder. Over 100 competitors participated, and the ultimate winner was Ian Coffey of Albany, now the newly hired Master Model Builder at the Somerville store! The new center has great educational and tourism value, according to Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism, as group tours and school classes begin to discover it in the months ahead. The LegoLand Discovery Center is part of a much larger and exciting building project called Assembly Row in Somerville. The $1.36 billion transit-oriented development of 56.2 acres can accommodate 1.75 million square feet of office space, 852,000 square feet of retail stores, restaurants and a cinema, a 200 room hotel, and 2,100 new residential units. In addition, Partners HealthCare is moving 4,500 employees into a new office building in 2016. The Massachusetts Office of Housing & Economic Development, which oversees the state’s economic development plan,has committed $27.5 million in funding to Assembly Row through the MassWorks Infrastructure Program. The funds support construction of a new MBTA Orange Line station and infrastructure needed to complete this development. These types of economic development projects are part of the state’s core strategy of long-term investments in education, innovation and infrastructure. Empowering regions is part of the economic development plan too, and EOHED works closely with local municipal and regional leaders to ensure that they have the means to attract and encourage business investment and job creation. Last year, EOHED launched the MetroNorth Initiative, a consortium of ten Greater Boston communities that include Chelsea, Everett, Malden, Medford, Melrose, Revere, Somerville and Winthrop, plus two Boston neighborhoods, Charlestown and East Boston. These are communities where businesses settle and where people live, work and play, and therefore have enormous potential for smart and dynamic growth. For more information about Massachusetts’ economic development plan, go to Choosing to Compete in the 21st Century,
Massachusetts Expands Collaborative Workspaces
(Photo: Greentown Labs in Somerville) Every place you turn, collaborative workspaces are cropping up in Massachusetts, drawing together innovators, entrepreneurs and creative types seeking affordable space, partnering and mentoring opportunities, and just pure inspiration. These workspaces are being hailed as a viable and practical way for individuals, small business and daring thinkers to flourish in an open environment where creative collaboration yields positive results. Massachusetts is at the forefront of encouraging these workspaces, says Helena Fruscio, head of Creative Industries, which is part of the Executive Office of Housing & Economic Development. Just this week, Fruscio and her colleagues staged a kick-off event at two collaborative workspaces in Somerville: the Artisan’s Asylum, a 25,000 square foot cluster of physical/manufacturing entrepreneurs, and Greentown Labs, a 24,000 square foot space for the growing community of energy and cleaning technology entrepreneurs. EOHED Secretary Greg Bialecki attended, and expressed Governor Deval Patrick’s support of expanding these workspaces, as stated in the Governor’s bill, An Act to Promote Growth & Opportunity, currently before the legislature. For example, collaborative workspaces would be an ideal solution in many Gateway Cities, where officials believe underutilized buildings could house innovative and creative clusters that stimulate economic growth and help to transform these older cities. The Somerville event kicked off a series of three workshops across the state this month for prospective developers, operators, funders and public officials: Central Massachusetts Thursday, May 8 9:00 a.m. – Noon Becker College Borger Academic Center 9 Washburn Square Leicester Eastern Massachusetts Tuesday, May 13 9:00 a.m. – Noon Quincy Chamber of Commerce 180 Old Colony Avenue Quincy Western Massachusetts Thursday, May 15 9:00 a.m. – Noon Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center 100 Bigelow Street Holyoke For more information about the training series, or to get involved in collaborative workspaces, contact Helena Fruscio at Helena.firstname.lastname@example.org or 617 788-3602.
Massachusetts Celebrates International Jazz Day, April 30
(Caption: Jazz Trumpeter Jason Palmer) Massachusetts is celebrating International Jazz Day on Wednesday, April 30, 2014 with a series of special activities across the Commonwealth. The global testimony to jazz is the culmination of jazz appreciation month across the United States, sponsored each April by the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. Earlier this month, Governor Deval Patrick issued a proclamation declaring April as Jazz Month in Massachusetts, in recognition of the state’s vibrant jazz scene and its distinguished tradition of supporting jazz and producing world-renowned artists. International Jazz Day is being celebrated locally at Emmanuel Church, located at 15 Newbury Street in Boston’s Back Bay at 7:00 p.m. on April 30. It’s a special concert organized by JazzBoston, a non-profit group that actively promotes jazz throughout the year, as part of its 8th annual JazzWeek. The concert is free and open to the public. The keynote speaker and featured performer is jazz pianist Danilo Perez, the Panama-born musician, educator, and social activists who heads the Global Jazz Institute at Berklee College of Music. He’ll perform his ‘three dimensional’ music, which weaves together jazz and Pan-American folk traditions with European classical music. The concert also features local performers like Either/Orchestra, Ken Fields, Jason Palmer and more. You can find a schedule of performers at Emmanuel Church plus a calendar of jazz events taking place during JazzWeek, which runs through May 4, 2014. International Jazz Day was first introduced in 2011 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and has become a global tradition that celebrates one of America’s original and distinctive art forms. This year Osaka, Japan is the official host city of International Jazz Day, with a special concert featuring jazz pianist Herbie Hancock and other great musicians from around the world. Massachusetts is one of the only states in America whose tourism agency actively promotes jazz year round to the convention and visitors industry. The Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism helped launch MassJazz in 2009 to promote the state’s many jazz festivals, concerts, campus events, and other jazz activities taking place from Boston to the Berkshires, from Cape Cod to the Merrimack Valley and everywhere in between. The jazz scene is propelled here by the world-class jazz studies programs at Berklee College of Music, New England Conservatory, UMASS/Amherst, and almost two dozen other jazz programs. These programs attract aspiring musicians from around the world, contributing to the state’s reputation as an international crossroads for culture and learning. Jazz, along with other performing arts genres, is part of Massachusetts’ creative economy, which employs over 100,000 people and contributes $1 billion to the state’s economy, according to Helena Fruscio, director of the state’s Creative Industries efforts. If you’re looking for more information about Massachusett’s jazz scene, check out MassJazz.com any time of the year. Happy listening!
Pax East 2014 – Future of Gaming is Now
Digital gaming is big business. If you need reassurance on this point, then consider PAX East 2014, which took place at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center over the weekend of April 11-13, 2014. Over 70,000 people attended the three-day show, not just from Massachusetts and New England, but from across North America and indeed, from around the world. Forbes Magazine notes that the coveted three-day passes sold out in less than three minutes! The convention center occasionally looked like a movie set as thousands of participants arrived in elaborate costumes from their favorite video games. Superheroes and fantasy characters blended in with thousands of students, young professionals, gaming designers and industry executives, all there to watch, learn, share, compete, and partake in this massive celebration of games. Massachusetts has a stake in the $67 billion gaming industry, says Helena Fruscio, director of Creative Industries, a state-wide initiative to tap into the growing sector of creative arts blossoming across the Commonwealth. As part of the Executive Office of Housing & Economic Development, Fruscio’s job is to identify, unify and strengthen all of the creative industries in Massachusetts, from performing arts and filmmaking to publishing and digital games. This year, 38 Massachusetts companies exhibited at the show, said Tim Loew, executive director of Massachusetts Digital Games Institute (MassDigi). The state-designated organization stimulates collaborative efforts among academia, entrepreneurs, state government and the gaming industry while promoting Massachusetts as a place well-positioned for growth in this burgeoning field. Loew said the MassDigi booth bustled all weekend. “We had drop-in mentoring for aspiring game developers of all ages, game demos from local companies Little Worlds Interactive, gameblyr, Moonshot Games and Catlateral Damage, area college and university students, special international friends in the Swiss Gaming Corner from swissnex Boston and more,” he said. PAX East 2014 wasn’t just about game-playing; there were nearly 200 panel discussions, ranging from “Land My Job! Inside Advice in Getting into the Game Industry,” to “The Sports Video Game Crisis.” And a number of universities – including Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Becker College, Fitchburg State University and other schools – were on hand to discuss their digital gaming courses and programs. One educational program that attracted attention was MassDiGI’s Summer Innovation Program (SIP), a twelve-week long paid internship of interest to college and university students from around the country who are studying game development. “Students work on teams, under the guidance of professional game industry producers and mentors with the objective of publishing a game,” Loew says about the highly competitive internships. “This year SIP received applications from 31 different academic institutions.” Massachusetts ranks in the top five most creative and innovative clusters of game developers in the country, Loew reckons. “With over 125 studios across the Commonwealth, Massachusetts game developers are building games for smartphones and tablets, personal computers and consoles, and for entertainment as well as education and other markets. And, with more people across the world playing more games on more devices than ever before, Massachusetts game developers are well-positioned for growth.”
10,000 + Science Teachers Meet in Boston
Last week over 11,500 science teachers from around the nation and places like Canada, the United Kingdom and China came to Boston for the National Science Teachers Association’s annual convention. The theme of this year’s conference was “Leading a Science Revolution,” an appropriate nod to Boston’s own revolutionary history and Massachusetts’ cutting edge innovative spirit. The conference was held at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center in Boston’s Seaport District, where hundreds of workshops, lectures and forums took place throughout the day, alongside a well-stocked science bookstore, and an exhibit hall with the latest science products and teaching tools. In addition to the conference hall activities, there were dozens of field trips across the state as well. Delegates took four field trips to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where they learned about DNA Proteins, Aeronautics, Augmented Reality games, and interactive video STEM Lessons. They traveled to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution on Cape Cod and to the New Bedford Whaling Museum to study marine science. And they visited the Christa McAuliffe Center in Framingham to take a simulated spaceflight mission in the Challenger Learning Center. And locally, the teachers took trips to the Museum of Science, New England Aquarium and the Arnold Arboretum. One of the big topics of conversation was the “Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), “a set of voluntary, rigorous, internationally bench-marked standards for K-12 science education. These standards are being developed by a national consortium of science and engineering experts, K-12 and higher education teachers and the science industries, working closely with twenty-six states, including Massachusetts. The goal is to make American children scientifically literate going forward. So far, eleven states and the District of Columbia have adopted the standards, according to Kate Falk, senior manager of public relations at the National Science Teachers Association. The NSTA has more details. The discussions around STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education were relevant to Massachusetts, since our state has been a leader in developing this curriculum. Governor Deval Patrick created the Massachusetts STEM Advisory Council in October 2009, and since then the state has worked with public officials to advocate for increased funding for secondary school students. When the Council last met in March 2014, Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy III discussed a bill he co-sponsored in Congress, the STEM Gateways Act, which if enacted would reach underrepresented groups such as girls, minorities and economically disadvantaged students. One of the interesting workshops at the convention was “Moving from STEM to STEAM,” which discussed the recent movement underway to add art to the STEM curriculum, making for a more interdisciplinary approach to learning. A number of awards were given out during the conference, and Gary Garber, Science Teacher at Boston University Academy, won a Vernier Technology Award for his use of sensors – including Photogate, Motion Detector and Accelerometer – as well as computer modeling to teach his students physics. And three Massachusetts science teachers – Janice Lewis of Lawrence School in Falmouth; Laura Rossier of FA Day Middle School in Newtonville; and Jacey Vaughan of Keverian School in Everett – won a Maitland P. Simmons Memorial Award for new teachers. The National Science Teachers Association last held its national convention here in 2008, and we’re glad they returned. Since 2000 Boston has seen the largest growth in convention market share of any U.S. City. You can find a schedule of upcoming conventions by visiting MassConvention.com.
Massachusetts Hosts Economic Development Summit on April 10
Greg Bialecki, secretary of the state’s Executive Office of Housing & Economic Development, has invited leaders from business, government and academia to convene this Thursday, April 10, 2014, for Massachusetts’ annual economic development summit. Over 200 participants are attending the all-day event at the Newton Marriott Hotel, including a cross-section of business leaders, state and municipal officials and global thinkers who have helped strengthen Massachusetts’ reputation as a world leader in innovation and entrepreneurship. The summit is an outgrowth of Choosing to Compete in the 21st Century, the state’s central organizing framework for measuring its economic development activities. This comprehensive plan, initiated by the Massachusetts Legislature in 2010, builds upon Governor Deval Patrick ’s core strategy of long-term investments in education, innovation and infrastructure, and focuses on five broad categories for action, along with 55 specific action steps. These five categories include Building Talent, Innovation Economy, Empowering Regions, Ease of Doing Business and Cost Competitiveness. Bialecki stresses “collaboration and strategic planning” as key ingredients for sustainable economic growth in the future, so much of the discussion will focus on state initiatives that meet these criteria. Examples include developing advanced manufacturing partnerships and middle-skills training in community colleges; creating innovation ecosystems to spawn startups; strengthening housing, job and educational opportunities across the entire state; and enacting ways to improve cost competitiveness while making it easy to do business in Massachusetts. Here is an online version of the brochure, and of the program and panelist biographies. For more information on the economic development summit, contact ChooseToCompete@state.ma.us. For an ongoing look at the state’s progress, visit Mass.gov/compete.
Massachusetts Celebrates National Poetry Month in April
April is National Poetry Month, and Massachusetts is starting the celebration in good form with a special poetry event taking place at Boston University Theatre on Monday, March 31, 2014 from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. Governor Deval Patrick is a guest reader, along with Robert Pinsky, former U.S. Poet Laureate and teacher at Boston University, Robin Young, host of “Here & Now” on WBUR and others. The event is being organized by Mass Poetry and Courage & Renewal Northeast. Massachusetts has a storied history when it comes to poetry, dating back to the very beginning of the Bay State Colony. Anne Dudley Bradstreet was America’s first published poet; her book, The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America was issued in 1650. Then Phillis Wheatley, a slave from Senegal who was brought to Boston in 1761, published her first poem in 1763, and her first book, Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral, in 1773. She was the first African-American, and the third American woman, to publish a book of poetry. In the 19th century, Massachusetts was home to many great poets, like Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, John Greenleaf Whittier, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Emily Dickinson. Massachusetts produced renowned poets in the 20th century too, including Robert Frost and Robert Lowell, Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton, and Robert Creeley and Stanley Kunitz. In addition, poets from around the world have come to Massachusetts to live here and teach, bringing an international, immigrant flair to the state’s literary community. Some of these include Khalil Gibran from Lebanon, Dereck Walcott from St. Lucia, and the late Seamus Heaney from Northern Ireland. The creative community is an important part of Massachusetts – historically and culturally – according to Helena Fruscio, director of the state’s Creative Industries efforts. But there’s an economic impact too. The creative economy employs over 100,000 people and contributes $1 billion to the state’s economy. The state’s literary community is also a tourist attraction, says the Mass Office of Travel & Tourism, as people all over the world come here to visit the Emily Dickinson Museum in Amherst; to Walden Pond, where Henry David Thoreau found inspiration; or to Lowell, where Jack Keruouc was born and raised before heading on the road. Poetry is alive and well in Massachusetts. Earlier this month, Huntington Theatre’s Education Department and Mass Cultural Council organized the finals of the Poetry Out Loud competition at the Old South Meeting House. The winners are going to Washington DC at the end of April to compete against other states. Good luck to them!
Agriculture Day at the Massachusetts State House
Caption: Mural on City Feed and Supply in Jamaica Plain, Boston The State House got a genuine Taste of Massachusetts this week as farmers from around the Commonwealth came to celebrate Agriculture Day, an annual event that showcases the rich bounty of food and beverage produced in-state, while giving farmers an occasion to educate public officials about issues affecting their industry. The event was organized by the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, the Massachusetts Farm Bureau Federation and other organizations. On hand was an abundance of locally harvested and produced items, ranging from oysters, cranberry juice and apple pies to cheese, honey and milk shakes. And culinary students from the Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School in Marlboro prepared and served a variety of dishes made from Massachusetts products, such as turkey, lamb, root vegetables, honey and local cheeses. Governor Deval Patrick spoke to the assembly and presented the group with a proclamation declaring March 26, 2014 at Massachusetts Agriculture Day. In turn, the farmers presented the governor with an award in recognition of his support of their issues over the years. The farming industry in Massachusetts generates nearly $490 million in revenues, maintaining about 520,000 acres of open space. There are about 7,700 farms, employing 12,000 works, according to Richard Sullivan, secretary of Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs. Greg Watson, Commissioner of Department of Agricultural Resources, said that “The reliance on our agricultural community to meet the increasing demand for local products continues to grow as the Buy Local movement expands.” Paula L. Murphy, Director of the Massachusetts Export Center, says that the state exported more than $914 million of food and agricultural items in 2013. “Massachusetts is the nation’s number one exporter of scallops and the number three exporter of seafood,” Murphy adds. “And we are the nation’s number one exporter of cranberry juice.” In fact, culinary tourism is yet another reason to visit the state. The Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism has developed a a handy overview of culinary activities for visitors, including a culinary calendar of food festivals and fairs. For other farm produce information, check out the Massachusetts Association of Roadside Stands , and this Mass Grown Map of farm products, specialty foods and fun agricultural activities throughout the state. Here is a list of farmers’ markets, but if you can’t wait till summer, check out these 40 winter farmers’ markets.
Massachusetts – Proud of its Olympians and its Sports Traditions
(Caption: Gold Medalists Meryl Davis and Charlie White Compete at U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Boston in January) Now that the 2014 Winter Olympics are officially over, it is especially gratifying to sing the praises of the Massachusetts athletes who represented our state and the United States and other countries. Shannah McArdle, Director of the Massachusetts Sports Marketing Office, has compiled a summary of 30+ Sochi Olympians with Bay State Connections, who were born here, attended college here, or are playing professional sports here. It’s an impressive list that speaks to our love of sports, our competitive spirit and longstanding traditions of excellence. Massachusetts played a supportive role in this year’s Winter Olympics, when the Skating Club of Boston hosted the 2014 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships in January, held at TD Garden and Boston Convention & Exhibition Center (BCEC). It was thrilling to see skating duo Meryl Davis and Charlie White win the Olympic Gold Medal in ice dancing, after we had just cheered them on in Boston a month earlier. McArdle is an active player in soliciting bids for major sporting events. Last fall, the Massachusetts Sports Office helped various teams and venues coordinate “Team Massachusetts” bids for large sporting events being solicited by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). In December we got the good news that Massachusetts was awarded six NCAA sporting events for 2014-2017: Betsy Wall, executive director of Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism (MOTT) , says that sporting events bring substantial economic benefits to Massachusetts by attracting fans from all over the world, who stay overnight in hotels, eat in restaurants, shop at stores and visit the state’s many tourist attractions. The U.S. Figure Skating Championships underscores the economic impact these events bring. Nearly 1100,000 spectators came to Boston for the week-long skating events, spending an estimated $20 million. The event also contributed to the highest hotel occupancy since 2007 for the month of December, according to the Boston Business Journal. In the wake of the successful Boston outing comes more good news: Boston is slated to host the 2016 International Skating Union (ISU) World Figure Skating Championships. Boston has rightful claims to be called the City of Champions: since 2000, the Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins and Celtics won a combined 8 championship titles. That winning spirit also extends to our collegiate teams and filters down to our high school athletes too. For more information about how Massachusetts promotes itself as a premier sports destination, contact the Massachusetts Sports Marketing Office.
New England Music Awards – Fueling Our Creative Economy
Want to get in on the ground floor of discovering future Grammy Award winners or rock n’ roll Hall-of-Famers? Then make your way to the 3rd annual New England Music Awards, taking place at the Lowell Memorial Auditorium on February 21-22, 2014. It’s an amazing showcase of the region’s best independent musicians and bands, many of them destined for stardom. State tourism officials are delighted that NEMA has found its home in Lowell, a city known for hosting first-class musical events such as the Lowell Folk Festival and the Lowell Summer Music Series each summer. Because of its location, affordability, cultural traditions and proximity to highways and transportation, Lowell is the perfect place to host this regional event, says Deb Belanger, head of the Greater Merrimack Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau, who helped bring NEMA to the city in 2013. She wants the event to grow in Lowell each year, and we do too. The local music scene is part of the bustling creative community in Massachusetts, which employs over 100,000 people and contributes $1 billion to the state’s economy, says Helena Frucio, who heads up the state’s Creative Economy Initiative. Keeping musicians and other artists busy, prosperous and satisfied with where they live is important to the state. A robust performing arts scene also attracts tourists from across the country and around the world, and that is good for our economy. As a sign of the NEMA’s growing popularity, over 4,200 bands submitted entries this year, says Joseph Graham, co-founder of the event. Over 100 finalists were culled from the entries by a committee of top music journalists, radio personalities, talent buyers and record label executives from across the six New England states. Then online voters choose the winners. The awards ceremony on Saturday, February 22, is hosted by comedian Steve Sweeney, a Massachusetts treasure in his own right. He’ll help announce the awards in 23 different categories, including Band of the Year, Album of the Year, Song of the Year and Best in State for each of the six New England states. What we like about NEMA is its commitment to helping independent musicians find the right resources to be successful. On Saturday afternoon it is presenting a free Artists Conference, in which aspiring and seasoned musicians alike can attend workshops on marketing and social media, hear live demonstrations, meet talent scouts and ask questions about business contracts, insurance and other topics of interest. Pundits are already suggesting that NEMA could become the next SXSW Music Festival, the iconic gathering of indie music lovers that takes place in Austin, TX, each winter. We say why not! Massachusetts has the cultural traditions, grassroots spirit and natural talent, plus a host of excellent music colleges (Berklee College of Music, New England Conservatory, UMass/Amherst and UMass/Lowell to name a few), to become a major destination for performing arts festivities. In the past few years alone, we’ve had a slew of new festivals, including Boston Calling festival at City Hall Plaza, Outside the Box arts festival in downtown Boston, Life is Good Festival in Canton, the Nines Festival in Devens, and the Summer Arts Weekend at Boston’s Copley Square. Performing Arts is one of those quality of life assets that help to define a place. A strong cultural scene is an incentive for talented people to visit, study, and settle down here. Our performing arts scene continues to grow stronger each year, and that is good for our Creative Economy.
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