As part of Women's History Month, the Massachusetts…
Massachusetts Offers Outdoor Fun during School Vacation Week
The Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism (MOTT) is promoting dozens of outdoor activities across the Commonwealth for families to enjoy during School Vacation Week, February 16-24, 2019. “From alpine ski resorts and cross-country skiing to ice skating, snowboarding and hiking, Massachusetts is a winter wonderland each February, and we urge residents and visitors to take advantage of all we have to offer during the upcoming school vacation week,” says Executive Director Francois L. Nivaud of the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism. Among the winter assets in Massachusetts are 12 alpine ski resorts, with downhill options for skiers and snowboarders at all levels, as well as snow tubing, cross country and snowshoeing facilities. Four ski resorts are running a Learn to Ski contest, which includes a free day of lessons, rental and a lift pass for two skiers or riders. Winners are selected on February 22, 2019. The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), which manages 450,000 acres of open space, has 84 family-friendly activities being offered in state parks across Massachusetts with 12 Visitor Centers open and fully staffed. The Trustees of the Reservations, which manages 100 properties spanning 27,000+ acres, is offering its Staycation with the Trustees program of outdoor activities, from drop-off and drop-in programs at local farms, to sledding, snowshoe walks and scavenger hunts. The Mass Audubon Society has a full week of children’s activities, including birdwatching and nature walks, at outdoor facilities throughout the Commonwealth. In addition, MOTT has compiled a resource of more School Vacation Week Activities, both outdoors and indoors. For year-round information on visiting Massachusetts, go to MassVacation.com. About the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism: MOTT’s mission is to promote Massachusetts as both a leisure and business travel destination for domestic and international markets and to contribute to the growth of the Commonwealth’s economy. MOTT works closely with 16 regional tourism councils across the state, and with larger tourism alliances such as Discover New England and BrandUSA.
Berklee High School Jazz Festivals Attracts Top Musicians & Students to Boston
Participants in the 2018 Berklee High School Jazz Festival (Courtesy of Berklee) The annual Berklee High School Jazz Festival, the largest of its kind in the United States, takes place at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston’s Back Bay on Saturday, January 26, 2019. Admission is free and the event is open to the general public. Here is a schedule of events. The festival features 133 top-ranked jazz ensembles from 16 states and territories, from California to Puerto Rico, and from Florida to Maine. The bands are competing for partial scholarships to Berklee’s Five Week Summer Performance Program, while individual musicians are auditioning for tuition scholarships toward the full-time program or the summer performance program. Here are details on the awards. According to a 2017 study by the Barr Foundation, the non-profit arts industry, which is part of the creative economy in Massachusetts supports 73,000 jobs while generating $1.4 billion in household income and $2.2 billion in economic activity. Berklee College of Music is considered the preeminent institute of contemporary music and the performing arts, according to its website. Berklee’s commitment to arts education is reflected in the work of its students, faculty and alumni – hundreds of whom have been recognized with Grammy, Tony, Oscar and Emmy awards. Find more about jazz in Massachusetts at massjazz.com. For information about visiting Massachusetts, go to MassVacation.com.
Baker-Polito Administration Announces $2.5 Million for Advanced Manufacturing Training
Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito joined Quinsigamond Community College President Luis G. Pedraja, regional workforce leaders and state and local officials to announce $2.5 million to four regional consortiums through the Advanced Manufacturing Training Program. The AMT program enables regional partnerships to develop, coordinate and maintain regional, comprehensive manufacturing workforce development systems that effectively meet the needs of manufacturers. Regional systems will provide workforce development services in advanced manufacturing, including recruitment, job training, placement and supportive services. Governor Charlie Baker said that advanced manufacturing “continues to be a key industry here in Massachusetts, and we are committed to supporting an industry that creates high-paying, full-time positions for residents with different skill levels. This program, which aligns with our relaunch of MassHire, builds on our administration’s investments in classroom infrastructure, industry innovation and regional coordination to connect residents to jobs, and address employer needs for skilled workers.” Lt. Governor Polito said the awards “represent nearly 140 community-based organizations, employers, educational institutions and career centers, working together to tackle existing challenges facing unemployed and underemployed individuals. We believe this collaborative, regional and place-based approach is an exciting step forward in effective workforce development that matches residents with high-growth industries.” Since 2015, the Advanced Manufacturing Training Program has invested more than $5 million in workforce development, and this year’s award round nearly doubled the yearly investment over previous years. In 2018, the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development began a statewide re-branding of MassHire, bringing the career center system, which previously existed under 45 different programs and names, under one brand, MassHire. Today’s awardees are all qualified consortiums working in conjunction with the MassHire system. Manufacturing represents 10% of the Commonwealth’s total economic output, and the Baker-Polito Administration has committed significant energy toward supporting the future of this sector in Massachusetts. In addition to the Advanced Manufacturing Training Program, the administration created a new funding mechanism, the Massachusetts Manufacturing Innovation Institute (M2I2) to support projects convened under the federal Manufacturing USA effort. With a $100 million commitment to investing in product development and commercialization, Massachusetts research and educational institutes are currently playing leading roles in advanced textiles, photonics, flexible-hybrid electronics, and robotics. The state’s Economic Development Incentive Program also provides critical tax-credit incentives for the relocation or expansion of manufacturers in the Commonwealth. Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy said, “The move toward meaningful, regional collaboration cannot be underestimated in its impact to shape talent pipelines in the future. I applaud the efforts of our regional teams in collecting and analyzing statewide data and developing new regional blueprints to address the workforce needs of our diverse state.” Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Rosalin Acosta said, “These grants, and the coordinated efforts between our state, federal, non-profit, and business communities, will go a long way toward helping us ensure that this critical piece of our economy continues to thrive in the Commonwealth.” Education Secretary James Peyser said, “By partnering with community colleges and vocational and technical high schools, the consortiums receiving these grants will provide students and workers with affordable opportunities to gain knowledge, skills, and credentials in advanced manufacturing.” Quinsigamond Community College President Luis Pedraja, Ph.D., said the school “works closely with manufacturers to ensure a strong and solid pipeline of workers are available to help them grow and prosper. We thank the Commonwealth and the Administration for the funding to continue our efforts to be able to train our students for the jobs of today, and tomorrow.” In 2015, Governor Baker convened the Workforce Skills Cabinet, comprised of the Executive Offices of Education, Labor and Workforce Development, and Housing and Economic Development to support a comprehensive economic growth agenda to benefit all corners of the Commonwealth. Since 2015, the Workforce Skills Cabinet has invested more than $50 million in training equipment and educational infrastructure through the Skills Capital Grant Program, provide students and adult learners access to state-of-the-art equipment for training. The Baker-Polito Administration also announced a new apprenticeship tax credit in the 2018 Economic Development Legislation, to encourage the creation of registered apprenticeships with employers in high-growth industries, including advanced manufacturing. This more than $1 billion economic development legislation also included new funding to accelerate small business development, further funding for the Skills Capital Program, $75 million in additional funding for the Skills Capital Grant Program, and new funding for the M2I2 program. ### Fiscal Year 2019 Advanced Manufacturing Training Program Awardees: Central - Coordinated by MassHire North Central Workforce Board and 24 partner organizations For the training and placement of 160 individuals in manufacturing the Central region in FY2019. And also to develop a 5-year Manufacturing Training Strategy to continued growth in the manufacturing training system, identify a regional Manufacturing Training Capitan to be the point person for the system, and participate in statewide coordination and system development. Northeast - Coordinated by MassHire Metro North Workforce Board and 24 partner organizations For the training and placement of 101 individuals in manufacturing the Northeast region in FY2019, and an additional 90 people will be placed using these funds. And also to develop a 5-year Manufacturing Training Strategy to continued growth in the manufacturing training system, identify a regional Manufacturing Training Capitan to be the point person for the system, and participate in statewide coordination and system development. Southeast - Coordinated by Greater New Bedford Workforce Board and 58 partner organizations For the training and placement of 185 individuals in manufacturing the Southeast region in FY2019. And also to develop a 5-year Manufacturing Training Strategy to continued growth in the manufacturing training system, identify a regional Manufacturing Training Capitan to be the point person for the system, and participate in statewide coordination and system development. West - Coordinated by MassHire Hampden County Workforce Board and 33 partner organizations For the training and placement of 127 individuals in manufacturing the Western region in FY2019. And also to develop a 5-year Manufacturing Training Strategy to continued growth in the manufacturing training system, identify a regional Manufacturing Training Capitan to be the point person for the system, and participate in statewide coordination and system development.
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker Delivers Inaugural Address for Second Term
On Thursday, January 3, 2019 Governor Charlie Baker delivered his second inaugural address from the House Chamber of the Massachusetts State House. Here are the Governor’s full remarks as prepared for delivery: Here are excerpts from Governor Baker’s speech: “Think about the Commonwealth’s leadership on national issues. “We have the highest rate of health care coverage in the nation. But the story was written across two decades, ten legislative sessions, five governors and four Presidents. “We have best in the nation gun laws, a story that was written across multiple legislative sessions and several Governors and was almost always bipartisan. “We have a K-12 education system that, despite its limitations, is the envy of the country. “This story was written by a large cast of leaders and contributors across decades of deliberation and action. “As we approach the third decade of the 21st century, we’re engaged in a number of difficult policy issues. Some will be with us long after our time on Beacon Hill is done. “But it’s incumbent on us to pursue these tasks with foresight, intelligence and commitment, so that we can rest assured that when our time is done, those who come after us will be able to build on the foundation we’ve established. “As I look forward, I’m grateful that we’re taking on difficult policy issues from a position of strength. “Massachusetts no longer has a structural budget deficit. In fact, we ended last year with a major budget surplus. Deposited over $650 million into our Stabilization Fund. And anticipate making another major deposit to that Fund at the end of this fiscal year. And we did it without raising taxes. “We delivered huge environmental benefits and lower energy prices. And now everybody wants to duplicate our process. “Our regulatory reform project reduced the complexity of state government across the board, allowing our small businesses to become more competitive in a dynamic economy. “And our ‘get stuff done’ approach with public private partnerships in economic development, advanced manufacturing, robotics and smart materials has created jobs and opportunity across the Commonwealth. “As a result, our economy is booming. “We have more people working than at any time in state history. Over 200,000 jobs have been created since we took office. Our labor force participation rate is at an all-time high. And people are moving to Massachusetts because we offer good jobs and opportunity. “Thanks to the hard work of so many, the state of our Commonwealth is strong! “By putting the public interest ahead of partisan politics, we’ve made our Commonwealth a better place to live for our residents. But there’s always much left to do. “There’s also much to do in transportation. “I’ll begin with a quick shout out to our Transportation Futures Commission. Predicting a future where there is so much possibility is difficult. They did great work and I want to highlight some of their recommendations. “First, continue to invest in public transportation. “This is an area in which the Commonwealth sat on its hands for far too many years and we’re all paying the price for it. “Over the course of the next five years, the T plans to spend over $8 billion on infrastructure, much of which will be invested in its core system. This is more than twice what has ever been spent in any 5-year period. “This will be no small task. “One of the reasons previous administrations didn’t invest in the core system is the complexity of upgrading and modernizing a system that operates 20 hours a day, seven days a week. “The constant tug between getting people where they need to go and disrupting that system to make it better is a big challenge. But it’s one that must be identified, scoped and overcome. “The T also needs to leverage its automated fare system once it’s in place in 2020. For the first time, that system will give the T real time data on how its riders use the system. That creates huge opportunities to improve service. To think differently about fares, routes and pricing. And to modernize operations to better serve customers. “Second, we must make the investments in public infrastructure that will enable the next generation of zero emission and autonomous vehicles to thrive here in the Commonwealth. “Getting this right will require unprecedented collaboration with local government and our New England neighbors, as well as innovative partnerships with the private sector. “Third, reduce greenhouse gas emissions within the transportation system. “The work we’re poised to do with other Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states should produce a cap and investment system for transportation that mirrors our successful model for energy. “It will create the largest program of its kind in US history. “Finally, we need to more fully appreciate the relationship between where people live and where they work and how state and local government policies affect their ability to get from one to the other. “I’ve spoken before about this housing crisis. “For over 20 years, we’ve produced less than half the new units of housing that we produced like clockwork in the previous forty years. “As a result, we have limited inventory. And the inventory we have gets priced out of sight, forcing people to live farther and farther away from where they work. “I believe that our housing bill was a strong step in the right direction to deal with this. It respected the need for communities to plan for themselves, but created incentives to tie development more closely to overarching strategies concerning transportation and land use generally. In the end, it failed because it was too much for some and not enough for others. “We shouldn’t let the perfect become the enemy of the good. “Building a stronger, more equitable, more resilient and more successful Commonwealth rests on several pillars. But one of the most important ones is delivering a big increase in housing production. We need to get this done. “Massachusetts is also a national leader in health care. We’re one of the healthiest states in the nation. And we have the highest rate of health care coverage. “Our health care cluster is a wonder, economically and clinically. It’s constantly delivering solutions to some of the most urgent and challenging problems facing patients and their families. “The flip side is the price we pay. “Small businesses in Massachusetts have among the highest health insurance costs in the country. The price for the same medical service can vary by as much as 300% depending on where it’s provided. “Our community hospitals continue to struggle. And, ironically, some of the Commonwealth’s rules make it tough to practice modern medicine. “Later this year, we will file legislation to address these issues. By expanding the use of telemedicine, rethinking some of our scope of practice guidelines and dealing with the parity issues that have negatively affected individuals and families dealing with mental health issues. “The fact that 351 cities and towns in this Commonwealth have worked with state government on over 800 best practices and now use that program to spread the word on other smarter ways to deliver services doesn’t make much news. “The work we’ve done together to invest billions of dollars in housing, downtown and regional economic development and public/private partnerships in communities across the Commonwealth are stories that come and go. “The 16,000 trees we’ve planted and thousands of LED lights we’ve installed with our colleagues in local government is just doing our job. “Each day, the wheels turn, and when they turn well they build strong communities. Support great schools. Grow the economy. Clean up the environment. Promote justice. And give people a chance. “Those wheels create hope, opportunity and possibility . “Over the past four years, Lieutenant Governor Polito and I have heard time and time again that the way we all work together is a model for the nation. “People like our collaborative approach to governing. And they say they’re proud to be from Massachusetts! “And so am I! “This state is bursting with talent, humor and decency. Boldness and common sense. Our abiding sense of patriotism, belonging and community has made us strong and has carried us forward for almost 400 years. “Let others engage in cheap shots and low blows. Let’s make our brand of politics positive and optimistic, instead of cruel and dark. “And instead of the bickering and name calling that dominates much of today’s public debate, let’s build on the work of those who came before us. “And make our work about how we can make this great state better for the people who call this glorious place ‘home.’ “God Bless This Commonwealth. “God Bless the United States of America.” ###
Baker-Polito Administration Announces Transition at the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development
Photo (l-r), Secretary Ash, Governor Baker, Lieutenant Governor Polito and Incoming Secretary Kennealy Governor Charlie Baker and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito announced the departure of Housing and Economic Development (HED) Secretary Jay Ash, and introduced as incoming Secretary current HED Assistant Secretary for Business Growth, Mike Kennealy. Secretary Kennealy will be sworn in on Friday, December 28, 2018. Governor Charlie Baker said, “From day one, Jay has worked tirelessly with members of the Legislature, local officials and private companies to enhance economic development, housing and the life sciences industry in Massachusetts. Our administration will always be particularly thankful for his work to help reduce the number of homeless families living in hotels and motels, from over 1,500 to less than 40, and his focus on achieving economic growth across the entire Commonwealth. We thank Jay for his public service, wish him well in the future and look forward to welcoming Mike to the cabinet.” Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito said, “Massachusetts cities and towns have had a tremendous partner and collaborator in Secretary Jay Ash throughout our administration’s first term,” “Drawing upon his successful career as Chelsea city manager, Jay has a keen understanding of municipal concerns and has helped local leaders build stronger communities. From the substantial reach and impact of MassWorks to the development of new tools to prepare underutilized sites for development and create collaborative workspaces, Jay has been a driving force in economic growth. I join Governor Baker in wishing him all the best and look forward to working alongside Mike going forward.” Secretary Jay Ash said, “I am proud of what we have accomplished together to grow and strengthen Massachusetts’ economy over the past four years as we worked to empower communities to achieve their economic potential, ensuring prosperity could be shared across the Commonwealth. Governor Baker and Lieutenant Governor Polito led by example, engaging local and state officials and our vibrant business and nonprofit sectors in an active dialogue, and we followed by identifying opportunities for investment and areas where we could create more support. It was an honor to visit over 200 cities and towns over the last four years. I have been energized and inspired by the ingenuity and tenacity of our municipal, community and business leaders, and I am grateful to Governor Baker and Lieutenant Governor Polito for asking me to serve in this capacity. Incoming Secretary Mike Kennealy is uniquely qualified and played an instrumental role in our first term achievements. Finally, I would like to thank the talented and committed professionals in EOHED and across the administration, who have been generous with their time and talent, and totally committed to the Commonwealth.” Incoming Secretary Kennealy said, “It has been an honor to serve as Assistant Secretary for Business Growth under Secretary Ash, Governor Baker and Lt. Governor Polito over the last four years and I am excited to take on the role of Secretary. I have been inspired by the ingenuity and drive in our diverse communities and companies and I look forward to working with the Administration, Legislature, local officials and members of the non-profit and private sectors across the Commonwealth to grow Massachusetts’ nation-leading innovation economy and continue to make progress on important issues like affordable housing and homelessness.” Under Secretary Ash’s leadership, the Baker-Polito Administration conceived and pursued an economic development strategy entitled “Opportunities for All” to bring vitality to communities, prosperity to people and growth for businesses in all regions of the Commonwealth. Key accomplishments include: • Transitioned over 1,400 homeless families out of hotels and motels, from 1,500 in 2015 to under 40 today. • Partnered with the Legislature to pass two billion-dollar economic development packages in 2016 and 2018, the $1.8 billion housing bonding bill and a $623 million life sciences bill to ensure our continued leadership in this sector on a national and global basis. • Delivered $12.5 million in state funding to the Berkshire Innovation Center in Pittsfield, a state of the art facility that will have the potential to serve as life sciences hub for the region. • Supported Worcester’s revitalization, including the redevelopment of the Canal District with a recently-announced $35 million infrastructure and HDIP affordable housing investment, made in conjunction with Pawtucket Red Sox relocation, announced in August. • Partnered with Springfield on six projects designed to revitalize its downtown revitalization, including the October announcement of the $2.5 refurbishment of the Paramount Theater, a lynchpin project for the city. • Played an important role in Lynn’s economic revitalization as a member of the Lynn Economic Advancement and Development (LEAD) Team – launching a number of commercial and housing projects, including Gateway North residences, which opened in 2018. • Served on Governor Baker’s Workforce Skills Cabinet (comprised of EOLWD, EOHED, EOE secretaries) and drove the creation of 7 regional workforce plans, over $50 million in Skills Capital Grants and the launch of the first registered tech apprenticeship program in the state. • Helped facilitate expansions from leading companies like GE, Kronos, MassMutual, MilliporeSigma and Siemens. About Mike Kennealy: In early 2015, Mike Kennealy joined the Baker-Polito Administration as Assistant Secretary for Business Growth in the Executive Office of Housing & Economic Development. As Assistant Secretary, Kennealy has played an integral role in advancing the administration’s strategy for job creation and business development across the entire Commonwealth and has provided leadership in key sectors, including serving as co-chair of the board of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center. Kennealy combines a successful track record in the private sector with a strong commitment to the public good. He began his career in private equity at TA Associates, a Boston-based firm. In 1997, he joined Spectrum Equity, a private equity firm founded in 1994 with offices in Boston and San Francisco. During his more than 15 years at Spectrum, he helped grow the firm to become an established market leader with nearly $5 billion in assets under management and investments in over 100 high-growth internet, software and information services companies. After his career in private equity, Kennealy spent two years as Special Advisor to the Receiver at Lawrence Public Schools, where he worked with the state-appointed superintendent/receiver on strategic and financial initiatives to support the school district’s turnaround plan. Kennealy and his family live in Lexington, Massachusetts, where they have been highly involved in town government, education and youth sports. He has served on the Board of Trustees of St. John’s Prep in Danvers since 2009 and currently serves as Chairman, and he serves on the Board of Visitors for The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences at Dartmouth College. Kennealy received a A.B. in Government from Dartmouth College and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.
John Coltrane Memorial Concert Showcases Boston’s Vibrant Jazz Community
Stan Strickland and Bill Pierce In 1977 a group of Boston musicians – Hayes Burnet, Syd Smart and Leonard Brown – initiated the John Coltrane Memorial Concert as a way of recognizing the genius of one of America’s greatest musicians and composers. The concert venue changed for the first several years before moving permanently to Northeastern University, where Dr. Leonard Brown was hired as Associate Professor of African American Studies and Music. Fast forward four decades later, and the 41st Annual John Coltrane Memorial Concert remains a centerpiece of Boston’s vibrant jazz scene. The concert is set to take place on Saturday, December 15 at Northeastern’s Blackman Auditorium under the musical direction of Dr. Carl Atkins. It is an evening of reflection and re-animation of John Coltrane’s compositions, legacy and philosophy. This year’s concert honors two master JCMC alumni: Bill Pierce and Stan Strickland, both of whom have made indelible musical contributions to the world. Purchase tickets here. The success of the annual concert has been recognized by fans of jazz and by local public officials. In 2017 Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker gave the John Coltrane Memorial Concert an official citation on the occasion of its 40th anniversary, and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh presented a John Coltrane Memorial Concert proclamation. Read this 2011 MassJazz interview with Dr. Leonard Brown talking about John Coltrane and his legacy. For information about visiting Massachusetts, go to MassVacation.com.
50th Annual FESTIVAL BETANCES CELEBRATES PUERTO RICAN + Latin Culture in Massachusetts
The 50th Annual Festival Betances is taking place on July 21-22, 2018 at Villa Victoria, located at 100 W. Dedham Street in Boston’s South End. The two-day festival celebrates Puerto Rican culture, including music, dance, food, visual arts and other traditions. In addition, the festival features a parade, traditional cuisine, arts and crafts, a greased pole competition, children’s activities like face painting and inflatables, and other activities that highlight the diversity of Latino culture. Among the performers this year are world-renowned artists including Andy Montañez, Giro López, Julio César Sanabria, and 3NITY featuring Zayra Pola. Here is a video of 3NITY performing Summertime. Band members met at the Berklee College of Music, forming the first all-female Latin band in Boston. The festival is organized each year by Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción is a non-profit organization and a dynamic community development corporation that started in the South End neighborhood of Boston, to address displacement of low-income families due to urban development. IBA offers affordable housing and supportive programming to improve the knowledge, life skills and health of participants of all ages. Festival Betances is named after Ramón Emeterio Betances, a Puerto Rican patriot whose medical contributions benefited Latin America, the Caribbean, and the United States. He also became a leader in awakening national consciousness in Puerto Rico, and is considered one of the foremost intellectuals of the 19th century. There is a plaza and a mural dedicated to him where the festival is held. Read more about the Massachusetts United for Puerto Rico Fund launched in October 2017 by the Boston Foundation and elected officials such as Governor Charlie Baker and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh. Dr. Vanessa Calderon-Rosado, Chairwoman of the Advisory Committee, is CEO of Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción. Find more jazz and world music festivals in Massachusetts this year by visiting MassJazz.com. For visitor information, go to MassVacation.com.
Celebrate Cape Verdeans in Massachusetts
By Francisco Fernandes Tavares Massachusetts is proud of its diverse population of residents representing dozens of ethnic communities and more than 140 languages from around the world. One of the most prominent is the Cape Verdean community, concentrated in Boston and nearby cities and towns like Quincy, Randolph, Somerville and Cambridge; and also South of Boston in Brockton, Taunton, Fall River, New Bedford and Cape Cod. The community is represented by the Cabo Verde Consulate located at 300 Congress Street in Quincy. While the official language of Cape Verde is Portuguese, Cape Verdeans also speak a unique Creole dialect as well. Portuguese is the third most commonly spoken language in Massachusetts, representing people from Brazil, Cape Verde, Portugal, Azores and Madeira. Here are a few suggestions on how to discover Cape Verdean culture and heritage in Massachusetts. GREATER BOSTON Boston has over 40,000 Cape Verdean residents, mostly concentrated in Dorchester, Mattapan and Roxbury neighborhoods. Recognizing these strong ties, the City of Boston signed a Sister City Agreement with Praia, Cape Verde in 2015 to foster economic, social and cultural exchange between these two cities. The Cape Verdean Independence Festival on July 4th at Boston City Hall Plaza is a great way to experience Cape Verdean culture up close. Attendees can enjoy live music, arts, food, children’s activities and the raising of the Cape Verdean flag. For those looking to enjoy authentic Cape Verdean cuisine, look no further than Cesaria, a popular Cape Verdean restaurant located at 266 Bowdoin Street in Dorchester. Cesaria offers popular authentic Cape Verdean dishes, including Catchup, a slow simmered stew made of hominy, pork, beans, carrots and collard greens. NEW BEDFORD New Bedford is proud of its Cape Verdean heritage, culture and history, which date back to the 1790s, when New Bedford whaling ships stopped in Cape Verde for supplies. The Cape Verdean Maritime Exhibits, opened in 2011 at the New Bedford Whaling Museum, reflects this illustrious history. New Bedford is also the official home for the Schooner Ernestina, which was aligned with Cape Verde through much of the 20th century. The ship was built in 1894 and brought many Cape Verdean immigrants to the U.S. In 1982, it was returned to Massachusetts, presented as a gift from the Cape Verdean people. Ernestina is currently being refurbished and will serve as an educational vessel and tourist attraction when it returns to port. New Bedford Director of Tourism & Marketing Dagny Ashley describes New Bedford’s Cape Verdean community as “proud, passionate and inspiring to the community, myself and the city. They work hard to share and preserve the stories of Cape Verde’s culture and people, inspiring future generations while celebrating the Cape Verdean past and present connections to New Bedford and beyond.” The annual Cape Verdean Recognition Parade, taking place on July 7th, 2018, celebrates Cape Verdean independence and the heritage of New Bedford. Participants can enjoy music, live bands, floats, dancers and more. Ashley calls Cape Verdeans “part of New Bedford’s fabric. Its history is woven and embedded in the city, dating back to the 1800’s. Along with many other groups, the Cape Verdean community helps make the City of New Bedford rich in history, culture and traditions.” BROCKTON Brockton has the third largest Cape Verdean population in Massachusetts, and is the only city to have an official Cape Verdean Heritage Day, organized by the Cape Verde Association of Brockton. The centerpiece of this year’s 24th Annual CV DAY Festival is on Sunday July 29, from 2 – 8 p.m. in Brockton. Also, the Association hosts an annual Gala, taking place on August 21 at Santana Restaurant and Hall in Brockton. CAPE COD In Hyannis, visit the Zion Union Heritage Museum, which celebrates the African-American, Cape Verdean and Wampanoag people of Cape Cod, as well as people who arrived here more recently from Brazil and the Caribbean. Coming up on June 2 at the Museum is “Sing Sistah Sing!” a tribute to female singers from these communities that have contributed to blues, jazz, gospel and opera. Also on Cape Cod, check out the Cape Verdean Club of Falmouth, the oldest of its kind in the United States. The Club holds an annual Cape Verdean Festival in September. Massachusetts is home to many vibrant ethnic communities, making the state a promising destination to witness and experience multiple cultures and traditions. You can find out about other multicultural communities by visiting MassVacation.com. *** Francisco ‘Cisco’ Tavares is an intern at Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism. He attends Emmanuel College, Boston where he is working on his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Business, with a Concentration in Marketing. Cisco is Treasurer of the Cape Verdean Student Association at Emmanuel.
3rd Annual HUBweek Underway in Boston through October 15
The 3rd annual HUBweek, a festival that celebrates innovation at the intersection of arts, science and technology, is underway in Boston and Cambridge. Over 175 events are taking place that explore cutting-edge ideas, inventions, and prospects for the future. Here is a master list of events. HUBweek was founded by The Boston Globe, Harvard University, MIT and Mass General Hospital. Many of the events are free, and some require a small fee. Here is the registration page. For more about visiting Massachusetts, go to MassVacation.com.
Tourism Office Issues MassJazz Guide Celebrating Jazz in Massachusetts
The Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism (MOTT) has released its 2017-2018 MassJazz Guide showcasing the Bay State’s vibrant year-round jazz scene of festivals, concerts, night clubs, jazz brunches, college courses and radio programs. Governor Charlie Baker and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito write in their welcome letter to MassJazz, “As America’s most original art form, jazz inspires us through its creativity, inclusion and global perspective. We you hope enjoy the music and that you are inspired by all that Massachusetts has to offer.” The free, 40-page MassJazz Guide includes stories on celebrated jazz musicians such as bassist Esperanza Spalding and pianist Yoko Miwa, jazz singer and radio executive Amanda Carr of WICN-FM and the New England Jazz Hall of Fame in Worcester. Berklee College of Music’s new partnership with the Shanghai Conservatory in China is covered, along with the upcoming Beantown Jazz Festival and other festivals in Massachusetts this fall. Jazz promoters such as Fred Taylor, Berkshires Jazz, Woods Hole Jazz Series, Northampton Jazz Series, John Coltrane Memorial Concert and Mandorla Music are profiled, along with WGBH-FM’s award-winning jazz programs. The 2017-2018 issue features notable Boston jazz clubs such as Les Zygomates Wine Bar, Darryl’s Corner Kitchen + Bar and Slade’s Bar & Grill, while also listing jazz brunches throughout the state. The MassJazz Guide is available for free at visitor kiosks, college campuses, and venues where live jazz is performed. Read the digital 2017-2018 MassJazz Guide online, and find ongoing information on live jazz in Massachusetts at MassJazz.com and the Mass Jazz blog. For more information about visiting Massachusetts, go to MassVacation.com
Smithsonian Magazine Offers Free Guest Passes to 40 + Massachusetts Museums on September 23
Over 40 Massachusetts museums and cultural institutions across the Bay State are opening their doors for free this Saturday, September 23, 2017, as part of Smithsonian Magazine‘s annual Museum Day Live! According to the Smithsonian, “In the spirit of Smithsonian Museums, who offer free admission everyday, Museum Day Live! is an annual event in which participating museums across the country open their doors to anyone presenting a Museum Day Ticket…for free.” The Museum Day Live! website allows participants to register and download the tickets online. Here are FAQs for further information. In 2016, over 200,000 people downloaded tickets to museums across the US for the Museum Day Live! events, according to the organizers. In Massachusetts, museums are cultural anchors for local residents and schoolchildren in the state’s 351 cities and towns. Museums are also in the Top 10 of tourist activities in Massachusetts. Find out more about Massachusetts museums by visiting New England Museum Association or museum listings on massvacation.com.
Lufthansa Air Names Boston its City of the Month, Pays Homage to Thoreau
German airline Lufthansa has named Boston its “City of the Month” by releasing an inspiring short video that takes viewers on a 20 mile trek from downtown Boston to Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts. Walden is where 19th century American writer Henry David Thoreau, born 200 years ago this summer, lived out his philosophy of self-reliance. The video was made by videographer Sam Swan, and features local actresses Saili Kline and Krissy Price. The song on the video, Trip to Walden Pond, is the title track to a new album just released by Boston-based fiddle champion Hanneke Cassel Block. It is an original composition. “From the harbor to high rises, from townhouses to treetops, we followed the call of the wilderness in exploring all that is Boston. Care to take a walk with us?” reads the description on Lufthansa’s Facebook page. “Follow us in Thoreau’s footsteps from the buzzing city into the welcoming arms of Mother Nature,” reads the introduction, as the women walk along Boston’s waterfront, North End and downtown before arriving at Walden Pond. The video leaves viewers with the choice: “City or Nature? Whatever your choice is, make it your adventure.” The video has had over 300,000 views. Lufthansa has direct flights between Boston’s Logan International Airport and both Frankfort and Munich, Germany, according to Massport. In March, Lufthansa opened its new state-of-the-art lounge in Terminal E at Boston’s Logan Airport. Read Lufthansa’s Travel Guide to Boston. Massachusetts is celebrating the bi-centennial of the birth of Thoreau this summer and fall, with various events planned at Walden Pond, which is operated by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (MDCR). For visitor information about the Concord area, go to MerrimackValley.org. To find out what Massachusetts has to offer any time of year, visit MassVacation.com.
Governor Baker Announces $9.3 Million in Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Awards
Photo Caption: Governor Charlie Baker speaks at the Seamen’s Bethel and Mariners’ Home Last week Governor Charlie Baker joined state and local officials and cultural leaders at the historic Seamen’s Bethel and Mariners’ Home in New Bedford to announce $9.3 million in new awards from the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund (CFF). The grants are included in the Baker-Polito Administration’s Fiscal Year 2018 Capital Budget Plan. This new round of awards brings the total cultural investment to over $100 million since the fund was established ten years ago. Governor Baker said that Massachusetts “shares a rich history and diverse culture that benefit residents and attract visitors from around the nation and the world.” He described the Mass Cultural Facilities Fund as “a tremendously powerful way for us to lend investments across the commonwealth for really important local endeavors and projects.” Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito said the awards “help cities, towns and their nonprofit partners restore and preserve culturally and historically significant sites that provide educational opportunities to visitors and local families.” “The Cultural Facilities Fund has delivered on its original mission to support the nonprofit arts, humanities, and sciences to create jobs and new economic opportunity in the Commonwealth,” said Jay Ash, secretary, Executive Housing and Economic Development, and chair of the Board of MassDevelopment, which unanimously approved the grants at its May 11 meeting. “Today we celebrate a 10-year, public-private partnership that has strengthened one of our state’s greatest assets: its arts and cultural sector,” said Anita Walker, executive director of the Massachusetts Cultural Council. “We are deeply grateful to the Governor and Legislature for the sustained commitment to the Cultural Facilities Fund.” Over $100 million in CFF awards since 2007 have supported 772 building projects in the nonprofit arts, sciences and humanities, with total development costs of $2.6 billion, driving cultural tourism, job growth, and community vitality in cities and towns across Massachusetts. Over ten years CFF-funded projects have supported 8,512 full time jobs and $492 million in wages, employed 23,778 architects, engineers, contractors, and construction workers, and created 2,092 new permanent jobs. Led by the Waterfront Historic Area League and the New Bedford Port Society, the Seamen’s Bethel project restores and preserves two of the city’s most iconic buildings, honors New Bedford’s fishermen and enhances the Whaling National Historical Park, site of one of the most beloved passages from Herman Melville’s classic American novel, “Moby Dick,” as an international visitor destination. The newly reopened historic Seamen’s Bethel and Mariners’ Home in the city’s Seaport Cultural District, had received a $440,000 matching CFF grant in 2014, and Governor Baker announced an additional $150,000 for the facility at the May 19 event. MassDevelopment President and CEO Marty Jones said, “The Cultural Facilities Fund supports the Commonwealth’s priceless cultural and historical resources, which create jobs, draw thousands of visitors to Massachusetts, and grow the state’s creative economy.” The new round of awards includes 61 capital grants totaling about $8.9 million and another 18 planning grants totaling nearly $400,000. Grants range from $7,000 to $300,000, and must be matched one-to-one from private and/or other public sources. MassDevelopment and Mass Cultural Council jointly administer the CFF, and an Advisory Committee appointed by the Governor provides oversight to its operation. The grants announced on May 19 were supported with $10 million from the state’s fiscal year 2017 capital plan, authorized by the state Legislature and allocated by the Governor. Learn more about the CFF here.
Small Business Month in Massachusetts
Photo: Lt. Governor Karyn Polito kicks off Small Business Month at Clark University in Worcester. On stage is (l-r) Peter Milano, MOBD Regional Director, and Jay Ash, Secretary of EOHED. The Baker-Polito Administration officially proclaimed May as Small Business Month in Massachusetts, citing small businesses as “the backbone of the American economy.” This month, the Executive Office of Housing & Economic Development (EOHED) and Massachusetts Office of Business Development (MOBD) have scheduled ten listening sessions across the Commonwealth to discuss ways in which Massachusetts can encourage economic growth and job creation. These listening sessions will inform the economic development strategy of the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development. Here is a schedule of the listening sessions. Governor Charlie Baker said that small businesses “account for close to half of our state’s employment and our administration will continue to advance policies and partnerships to support our local economy. We welcome this opportunity to further engage the small business community on ideas to drive new growth and job creation.” Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito said the contributions of small businesses “extend beyond the number of jobs they create and serve as a backbone of every region, downtown and community in Massachusetts. We look forward to highlighting existing resources available to small businesses and soliciting further ideas through listening sessions across the state.” EOHED Secretary Jay Ash said, “We are looking to create continuous engagement with our small business community to collaborate on how to best support this critical sector of the Massachusetts’ economy.” MOBD Assistant Secretary for Business Development Nam Pham said the listening sessions “give us the opportunity to discuss the complex issues that our small businesses face, from access to capital to navigating state resources. Through conversations with stakeholders and local leaders, we hope to identify the challenges in each region of the Commonwealth and build strategies to expand opportunities for our small businesses.”
Massachusetts Celebrates Jazz Month & International Jazz Day
Sunday, April 30 is International Jazz Day, which is organized by UNESCO each year to highlight jazz and its diplomatic role of uniting people in all corners of the world. In Massachusetts, Governor Charlie Baker has declared April 2017 to be Jazz Month, a tribute to the state’s vibrant, year-round jazz scene. Governor Baker called jazz “one of America’s most treasured exports, connecting races, cultures and continents.” Here is Massachusetts’ Jazz Month Proclamation. The proclamation coincides with “Jazz Week 2017,” organized each year by JazzBoston, a non-profit organization that promotes jazz year round in greater Boston. Another resource for jazz lovers is MassJazz.com at the Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism, a year round marketing effort to promote the state’s jazz performance and education. For information about visiting Massachusetts, go to MassVacation.com.
Massachusetts Celebrates Poetry Month in April
Massachusetts, proud of its longstanding traditions of literature, is celebrating National Poetry Month throughout the Commonwealth in April 2017. The Commonwealth’s poetry tradition stretches back to the 17th century when Anne Dudley Bradstreet was America’s first published poet in 1650. Phyllis Wheatley, an African slave living in Boston, published her poetry during the lead-up to the American Revolution; her first book of poetry was actually published in England though her poetry was all about Massachusetts. The muse continued through the 19th century with writers like Emily Dickinson, Ralph Waldo Emerson and John Boyle O’Reilly, followed by a wealth of great poetry in the 20th century by Stanley Kunitz, Robert Lowell, E.E. Cummings, Ann Sexton, Slyvia Plath, and many others. Massachusetts has an official state poem, called The Blue Hills of Massachusetts by Katherine E. Mullen. Today the poetry tradition is more robust than ever. Thanks to Mass Poetry and other organizations, there are poetry events, readings and competitions throughout the year. Check out these events in the coming weeks that celebrate the written and spoken words of poetry, compiled by Paige Southworth of Emmanuel College. Greater Boston: Boston National Poetry Month Festival 2017 Boston Public Library- Friday (April 7) • 13 Keynote Poets (Winners of Mass Book Award, National Book Award & Pulitzer Prize) Saturday (April 8) /Sunday (April 9) • 50 established/emerging poets • Open Mic • Panel on Craft and Publishing (Saturday Only) Northeastern University- Thursday (April 7) • 2nd Annual High School Poetry Slam Competition North of Boston: Peabody Institute Library-Wednesday (April 19) • Get to Know the Festival Poets: Discussion Series 7-8pm Cape Ann Museum-Saturday (April 29) Ekphrastic Poetry Workshop: Local Poet Gayle Henry will teach participants how to write poetry using the museums artifacts as inspiration 10:30am-12pm 9th Annual 2017 Mass Poetry Festival Downtown Salem (May 5-7) South of Boston: Plymouth Center for the Arts-Sunday (April 9) • The Art of Words: Mike Amado Memorial Series 12 -3pm Cape Cod & the Islands: Wellfleet Library-Saturday (April 29) • Cape Cod Poetry Group (National Poetry Month Discussion on Change & Transition) 1-3 pm Central Massachusetts: Worcester State University (Student Center)-Wednesday (April 12) • Annual Judith O’Connell Hoyer ’65 Poetry Reading 2-4pm Western Massachusetts: Smith College (Poetry Center)-Thursday (April 13)
Massachusetts Declares ‘New England Patriots Day’ on February 7, 2017
New England Patriots Day Commonwealth of Massachusetts A Proclamation His Excellency Governor Charles D. Baker Whereas February 7th, 2017, marks parade day once again in Boston to honor an amazing win in Super Bowl LI and the historic run over the past 16 years by the New England Patriots; and Whereas No team playing in the Super Bowl had ever overcome a deficit greater than 10 points, the New England Patriots scored 31 unanswered points to erase Atlanta’s 25-point advantage; and Whereas Under the tutelage of Coach Belichick and his magnificent staff, Tom Brady and his teammates orchestrated the most miraculous comeback win in Super Bowl history; and Whereas Tom Brady threw for a Super Bowl record 466 yards, cementing his legacy as the GOAT; and Whereas Bill Belichick, having taken the Patriots to 11 conference championships in 16 years, eclipsed former Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Chuck Noll as the winningest Super Bowl coach, running his record to 5-2 on sport’s biggest stage; and Whereas Dont’a Hightower’s forced fumble, Trey Flower’s sack, Julian Edelman’s gravity defying catch, and James White’s stand out performance, coupled with the offensive line’s resilient protection and a host of other key player contributions, are a hallmark of the New England Patriots concept of a “team win”; and Whereas Under the Kraft Family’s leadership, “doing your job” is not only a saying but a way of life – the New England Patriots have collectively become the region’s greatest role model for fans watching from Maine to Connecticut and everywhere in between; and Whereas New England and Boston sports have a rich and lasting history punctuated by an unprecedented run over the past 16 years across all the region’s professional sports, and the New England Patriots are known as the architects of this historic run; and Whereas Since the founding of this nation, Boston has been the birthplace of patriots and game changers, the New England Patriots have proudly carried on this tradition, heralding in a new generation of Patriots and Patriots fans, Now, Therefore, I, Charles D. Baker, Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, do hereby proclaim February 7th, 2017, to be, New England Patriots Day And urge all the citizens of the Commonwealth to take cognizance of this event and participate fittingly in its observance. Given at the Executive Chamber in Boston, this Seventh Day of February, in the year two thousand and seventeen, and of the Independence of the United States of America, the two hundred and forty-first. By His Excellency Charles D. Baker Governor of the Commonwealth Karyn E. Polito Lt. Governor of the Commonwealth William Francis Galvin Secretary of the Commonwealth God Save the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Governor Baker announces budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2018
(Photo courtesy of State House News) The Baker-Polito Administration filed its Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18) budget proposal on January 25, 2017. The $40.508 billion spending plan funds key priorities including local aid, education, workforce development, housing and homelessness services, and substance misuse prevention programs, while keeping spending in line with recurring revenues and does not raise taxes. See video on the budget proposal, with comments by Governor Charlie Baker, Lt. Governor Karyn Polito and Kristen Lepore, Secretary of Administration and Finance. “This budget reaffirms our commitment to the hardworking people of the Commonwealth to propose a balanced budget that significantly invests in education, workforce development and funds to fight the opioid epidemic—without raising taxes,” said Governor Baker. “While practicing fiscal discipline and reining in spending, we are also pleased to introduce new initiatives like the ‘Learn to Earn’ program to shrink the unemployment and underemployment gap in our state and a $4,000 tax-credit for employers hiring an unemployed veteran. I look forward to working with our colleagues in the legislature so that we can all make Massachusetts a better place to live, work, and raise a family.” Read more information on the Governor’s filing letter, budget message and specific account informmation.
Governor Baker Delivers Second State of the Commonwealth Address
This week, Governor Charlie Baker delivered his second State of the Commonwealth address from the House Chamber of the Massachusetts State House. Members of the audience included Lt. Governor Karyn Polito, Speaker of the House Robert A. DeLeo, Senate President Stanley C. Rosenberg, members of the House and Senate, state officers, business leaders and community groups. “Our economy is among the strongest in the nation,“ Governor Baker told the assembled guests. “Over the past two years we’ve added 120,000 jobs. Today more people are working than at any time in the past 20 years. The companies of the future are moving to Massachusetts, bringing millions in private investment, while new companies are born here every day. In fact, for the second year in a row, Bloomberg named Massachusetts the #1 state for innovation. “It’s not an accident that Massachusetts is such an attractive place to do business. It’s a reflection of the quality of our people and the business climate we’ve created,” he said. Governor Baker also spoke about the progress being made on energy in Massachusetts. “Together, we passed landmark legislation that will reduce our carbon footprint while maintaining a competitively priced and reliable supply of energy. And we’ve built on those efforts by issuing an Executive Order on Climate Change that directs state government to work with local governments, business, and non-profits to develop plans to further protect our environment and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” In terms of making government more efficient and more accessible to businesses and citizens in Massachusetts, Governor Baker said, “We’ve reviewed, updated and eliminated thousands of pages of outdated and obsolete state regulations, which has reduced red tape and made it easier for employers, non-profits and cities and towns to do their jobs.” Governor Baker also talked about Massachusetts’ innovation economy and its global reputation in technology, health and the life sciences. “We all know the world is becoming more and more dependent on technology. Smart buildings. Smarter machines. Robotics. Autonomous vehicles. Digital health. Precision manufacturing. And big data to name a few,” Baker said. “These are the platforms of the next generation of great companies and new jobs. And cyber security that moves as fast as the hackers, thieves and troublemakers is what makes this all possible. Success in protecting databases and smart machines will ensure that people benefit from the best ideas in science, engineering and technology for decades to come. Baker called Massachusetts “one of the three most important players in cyber security in the world,” and said the industry is just taking off. “Hundreds of billions of dollars will be spent over the next decade to protect information and assets. Massachusetts’ organizations should play a major role in driving these decisions. Over the next ten months we’ll bring together the best minds locally and globally to develop a blueprint for success here in Massachusetts. And we will follow it.” Finally, the governor praised the veterans of Massachusetts but noted that “too many of our returning heroes struggle to find good jobs. So we’ll be proposing a $4,000 tax credit for businesses hiring and retaining an unemployed veteran.” Here is the full text of Governor Baker’s address.
Chef Daniel Bruce, Savoring Food and Wine at the Boston Wine Festival
Chef Daniel Bruce, celebrated chef at the Boston Harbor Hotel and its signature restaurant, Meritage, is founder of the Boston Wine Festival which celebrates its 28th season this year and runs from January 13 through March 31, 2017. As the nation’s longest running event of its kind, it’s worth noting the breadth and volume of creative cuisine that has gone from kitchen to palate. From the Festival’s inception, Chef Bruce has expertly crafted thousands of unique dishes, designed to complement the finest vino. Discerning palates rejoice, as this season’s lineup is sure to please. Chef, how do you keep patrons returning to the Boston Wine Festival over nearly three decades? The most important reason for the longevity of the Boston Wine Festival is the loyalty of our patrons, winemakers and of course, my staff. The warm and professional service and the strong relationships I have with the winemakers have made it possible for such a long run. Seasoned patrons join us to experience the Festival’s newest vineyards, along with their favorites that return year after year. We have word of mouth, as well, to thank for newcomers. The Festival keeps getting better and more exciting every winter. People seem more passionate than ever about food & wine. Why is that? I always felt there has been a passion for food and wine in this region, which is one of the main reasons I started the Festival nearly three decades ago! I do think that in recent years there has been an increase in the amount of opportunities available for people to experience food and wine in approachable settings, which has led to an increased interest in the pair. Are there any special new wines, guest chefs or pairings this year that you’re particularly proud of? As the Chef of the Boston Wine Festival, I am always looking to add new wineries to the lineup. I love to bring vineyards to Boston that I believe are rising stars in the world of wine, and introduce them to the market in Boston, and beyond. As for newcomers, this year I’m particularly excited about ROCO Winery (February 9) featuring the newest venture from Argyle Winery’s Rollin Sole. For the first time, The Boston Wine Festival will also host numerous winemakers from South Africa in March during a week of events dedicated to the region and inspired by my recent travels there. I am equally as excited about the well-recognized vineyards we have returning to the Festival. Whether the vintners have been with us just once, or for the past 27 years, they always bring special vintages from their cellars that are hard to find or not available for retail, which offers a truly unique experience for attendees. Thank you Chef Bruce! For more information, visit Boston Wine Festival This story originally appeared on the MassFinds Blog, published by Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism.
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. 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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