Pioneer Valley of Western MA: The region includes 72 cities including Springfield, Amherst, Northampton, Easthampton, Holyoke, Shelburne Falls, Westfield, Greenfield. , MA

Contact Name
Dee Boyle-Clapp, Director, Arts Extension Service
Project Dates
March 2014- present
Workshop Leader
Creative Communities Exchange (CCX) 2015
Tags
Event, Marketing, Networking, Research, Workforce Development
A member of the Massachusetts' Creative Economy Initiative, the Pioneer Valley Creative Economy Network is a collaboration of art, business, university, economic development, city and community partners working to connect and expand opportunities for artists and creative businesses in the 3 counties of the Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts. We host monthly Plug-In network events for artists and creative business workers; conduct and share research; amplify professional development opportunities; co-create and host an annual Creative Economy Summit focusing on five areas including Business Development, Access to Capital, Visibility, Talent and Space.
Each partner represents their own constituencies, yet together reaches and connects thousands of artists and creative businesses.
Project Goals
What were the specific goals of this creative economy project? Describe the community development challenge or opportunity that your project was designed to address:
The Commonwealth’s Creative Economy Initiative identified five key areas that Creative Industries most valued, including Business Development, Access to Capital, Visibility, Talent and Space. The Pioneer Valley Creative Economy Network is charged with exploring and supporting each of these areas, and each month the group examines what each partner or the Network as a whole is doing to advance one or more of these items as they pertain to our region and its own unique needs.

For example: The Western MA Film and Media Exchange was held in October of 2014. Over 200 people attended. Focus was on how our local filmmakers could run their businesses more successfully as well as for local businesses to learn how to incorporate film/video in their marketing and PR efforts (and hire local filmmakers). It was a full day of panels and workshops and an Exhibit Floor that featured the latest equipment and local vendors/production companies.

The Creative Economy Summit 2015 is scheduled for May 2015. Each partner serves on the Creative Economy Summit Planning Committee and most are chairing a workshop at the Summit and are responsible for identifying speakers/panelists, all vet the speakers/panelists. The panels will address the key issues of Business Development, Access to Capital, Visibility, Talent and Space.
If the goals change over time, please describe how:
The Pioneer Valley Network has expanded the partnerships to include Chambers of Commerce, Tourism, University partners, the Berkshire Film and Media Collaborative, as well as and as a result has added research (conducting and sharing surveys and research projects), mutual support of projects (such as buying booths and support of the Western MA Film and Media Exchange).

The Arts Extension Service (AES) at the University of Massachusetts Amherst has just launched their new Arts Entrepreneurship Initiative which works with creative businesses to expand internship opportunities for UMass’ 2,000 arts and culture students; present business and professional development trainings, and workshops for artists, creative businesses and others; and is exploring an artist mentoring project.

In Hampshire County, (project detailed below), community leaders are launching a new economic strategy with a major focus on the creative economy. The Network will collaborate wherever possible to support their plans to offer coordination and market-oriented opportunities.
Who was involved in this project and what did they do? (be sure to include the partners from outside of the creative sector and how local voices were included):
The following share the role of expanding the partnership and meeting our shared goals through projects; sharing news of events, trainings, and information on Plug-in Network events on all of their social media and news pages; each partner will serve on the Creative Economy Summit Planning Committee and most are chairing a workshop at the Summit, and are responsible for identifying speakers/panelists, all vet the speakers/panelists, all share the information about the work being done. We are working to create our first website/marketing/branding for the Pioneer Valley Creative Economy network.

• Ann Burke, Western Massachusetts Economic Development; is project leader and hosts monthly meetings at her office, hosts the Pioneer Valley Creative Economy Network Calendar on their website, serves as liaison with Commonwealth's Creative Economy Initiative.
• Suzanne Beck, Director, Greater Northampton Chamber of Commerce/Regional Tourism Council
• Jeffrey Bianchine, Creative Economy Coordinator, Planning and Economic Development, City of Holyoke (Adams Art Project)
• Dee Boyle-Clapp, Director, Arts Extension Service, University of Massachusetts Amherst, (former Coordinator of Fostering Art and Culture Partnership, Adams Art Project), artist
• Don Courtemanche, Amherst Chamber of Commerce
• Lisa Davol, Franklin County Chamber of Commerce (former Coordinator of RiverCulture, Adams Art Project), Fostering Art and Culture Project
• Burns Maxey, Arts Coordinator, Easthampton City Arts+, (Adams Art Project), artist
• Katy Moonan, Director, Springfield Cultural District
• Chris Russell, Director, Springfield Business Improvement District
• Diane Pearlman, Director, Berkshire Film and Media Collaborative
• Mary Vilbon, Director, Shelburne Falls Area Business Association
How does this project relate to a larger community development strategy?
Many of the partners are responsible for creating their community’s development strategies. This partnership allows each to be briefed on what is coming, what is in progress, and what is working and what needs support. By having such a regional approach, the partners work together to fill in the gaps, cross-market, share resources, offer ideas to the partners, and share information with their own constituents across the three counties. This effort is beginning to eliminate the commonly held complaint that “no one knows what is going on.”

For example:
1. In Hampshire County, community leaders are launching a new economic strategy with a major focus on the creative economy. The creative industries are the sixth largest industry in the county, with 5,292 jobs and a concentration of jobs that is 1.6 times greater than the US average. The strategy includes efforts to create more coordination and market-oriented opportunities to scale up creative businesses, organizations and individuals.

2. Fostering Art and Culture Project is a partnership of artists, businesses and cultural organizations that provide training and networking opportunities for creative professionals in Franklin County. They do this through monthly BUZZ creative networking events and produce a Creative Economy Summit uniting creatives and ideas from Hampden, Hampshire and Franklin counties through this year’s partnership with the Pioneer Valley Creative Economy Network.

3. Easthampton City Arts+ is expanding opportunities for Pioneer Valley artists and creative organizers through programs that give hands-on experience and business guidance through an educational incubator space program.
What projects or places, if any, inspired your approach to this creative economy project?
As noted, the Creative Economy Initiative launched the concept and we continue to expand the possibilities.

The Pioneer Valley Creative Economy Network is about to hire a marketing firm, as we are now ready to create a cohesive marketing and branding. We are inspired by Berkshire Creative, though one single county, they have done a wonderful job of consolidating and marketing the richness of their cultural and professional development offerings.
Project Specifics
Please list the steps taken to implement the project:
The Creative Economy Initiative Director Helena Fruscio launched the concept; Ann Burke and Dee Boyle-Clapp met to discuss opportunities.

Ann Burke submitted an application to create the Pioneer Valley chapter, and invited partners to join, tapping individuals who represented the largest number of artists and arts organizations in the region.
If the project steps changed over time, please describe how:
Yes, as the partner numbers expand, each brings a new perspective, and the possibilities increase. As a relatively new partnership, we would say we are more in a stage of growth than refinement.
Obstacles
What were your major obstacles for the completion of the project?
The three counties have endured some competition over the years, competing for small pools of money, marketing dollars, tourists, etc. The work here has been to find areas where we can share resources, share ideas, and find ways to amplify the work each has done and is doing. This is a partnership, and as such, each partner has had to learn how to plug into the Network to make the most of the potential, while addressing their own staffing issues and realities of time.
Who or what was instrumental in overcoming these obstacles?
1. Building trust, letting go of the notion that each was stronger alone.
2. By limiting the scope to five key areas, the Partnership has stayed focused.
3. Sharing the workload for the Creative Economy Summit.
4. Rotating the location of the monthly Plug-In events, so no one partner has had to bear the load of work to market, find venues or sponsors every month.
5. Acknowledging good leadership. Ann Burke has done a wonderful job in holding monthly meetings, sharing materials with each partner. For example, all have access to post on the online calendar, and she makes sure that each has a chance to add to the conversation.
6. Mutually marketing all events on all forms of social media to spread the word of the Creative Economy Network as well as all events of the partner's individual projects has expanded the value of the Network, enabling each to access the email lists and social media outlets equally.
What top three suggestions would you give to others attempting a similar project?
1. Each organization must share its enlightened self-interest, acknowledge if they differ from one another, but work from common ground, and put your assumptions aside and work together to create something larger than one’s individual organization.
2. Share your resources. Anything that one has that another needs that supports the projects adds to the whole, including: Staff support, email lists, office space, interns, Go-to-Meeting, etc.
3. Dream together, and then follow the path that makes the most sense for the entire region.
Project Impact
How has this project strategically connected arts and cultural activities to social, economic, and cultural issues in your community? What is different in your community as a result of this project?
There is a renewed sense of community, as more of the region’s artists and creative businesses are becoming aware that this network is of value to them. The mutual marketing is building bridges, and is reinforcing the long-range goal that the Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts recognizes itself as a region made up of unique, smaller components; marketed and appreciated as one place, with county lines that define but do not limit the richness of the area.
Our values are nearly universal: a belief in community, in the power and value of the arts, and support and respect for an entrepreneurial, and dare we say, Pioneering spirit.
Why do you consider the project successful, as related to your project goals above?
The five areas of work determined by the Commonwealth’s Creative Economy Initiative allowed for ample room to work together, however the most important part has been sharing information, creating ongoing, reliable networking for artists and creative businesses, and seeing ways to turn individual organizations into a large partnership that works to build the region’s creative economy.
How did you measure this success or progress?
This is still being determined, however, the attendance at the Plug-in events grows each month, the number of partners is expanding, a recent film event supported by the partners had excellent turn out (at capacity) and a near 100% request that the event be held next year.
Please describe any unexpected impacts:
The big surprise is that by working together, more is accomplished:
The partners have become a resource for one another.
Cross-marketing has allowed more artists/creative businesses to know what is happening so more people can connect, share ideas, share information, know about and attend events and trainings.
Asking questions of the partners produces answers as our shared knowledge base is wider.
CCX Workshop Handout