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UMass President Awards $270,000 for Creative-economy Initiatives

BOSTON — President Robert Caret announced $270,000 in grants from the President’s Creative Economy Initiatives Fund to support eight projects by UMass faculty members in the arts, humanities, and social sciences that will bring new creative resources to Massachusetts communities.

The initiatives include supporting an LGBT community archives and education center in Northampton, developing a marketing toolkit to help nonprofit arts and cultural organizations involved in the creative economy in the Fall River-New Bedford area, and collaborating with the Peace Institute in the Dorchester section of Boston to assist victims of violence.

“The Creative Economy Initiatives Fund provides us with a unique opportunity to contribute the talent and resources of the University of Massachusetts to communities and organizations across the state that are helping to enrich the quality of life in the Commonwealth,” said Caret. “These projects — and the partnerships with nonprofits and creative industries that stem from them — are foundational to our role as an institution that is committed to making a difference wherever and whenever we can.”

The fund was created in 2007 to complement the President’s Science and Technology Initiatives Fund. In its eight years of operation, the Creative Economy Initiatives Fund has made 73 awards totaling more than $2 million. It has supported preservation of the W.E.B. Du Bois boyhood home in Great Barrington and established both the Lowell Youth Orchestra and a permanent Jack Kerouac education and tourism site in Lowell. It has brought UMass Dartmouth students together with Durfee High School students to create a photographic history of Fall River’s neighborhoods, helped establish a women artisans’ cooperative in New Bedford, developed a workers’ upholstery co-op in Springfield, and sponsored numerous music, dance, and theatre performances in Boston, Amherst, and Lowell. This year, the Creative Economy Initiatives Fund will provide $270,000 in grants to the following local initiatives and faculty members:

• Judyie Al-Bilali, Gilbert McCauley, and Priscilla Page, Theatre Department, UMass Amherst: “Art, Legacy & Community.” Project staff will work with community groups in the Greater Springfield area to produce an original theater production and develop Du Bois Performance Workshops for education in multicultural theater, with both activities to take place in Springfield. Amount awarded: $32,000.

• Mitch Boucher, University Without Walls; Julio Capo Jr., History Department and Commonwealth Honors College; and Jessica Johnson, History Department, all at UMass Amherst: “A LGBTQI Community Archives and Education Center.” This project will support the Sexual Minorities Archives (SMA) in Northampton, helping SMA preserve, build, and provide wider access to its resources; develop regional walking tours and other interactive programs; and establish greater national and international community links for these unique and valuable historical materials. Amount awarded: $29,334.

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