Greenfield, MA

Contact Name
Linda McInerney
Project Dates
The third weekend in October annually for the last 4 years
Event, Networking
A fringe theatre festival offered annually that uses 8 different underutilized/abandoned/unused venues to showcase 8 different curated regional shows, all under 45 minutes, all within walking distance of one another in Downtown Greenfield. The event takes place over a weekend and each show is run twice a night. Folks can squeeze in up to four shows a night. Tickets are cheap and youth under 15 are free. About 600 people fill downtown enjoying the creative energy that electrifies Greenfield and shows the world the lively arts are fully alive.
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:
To bring attention to Downtown Greenfield, to enhance restaurant and bar business, to enhance the perception of Greenfield as an up and coming creative hub, to connect artists with one another, to cross pollinate audiences from various parts of the Pioneer Valley.
The challenge is finding, securing, venues while working with Fire and Building Inspectors and the Town to support the Festival and allow us into these unusual spaces.
If the goals change over time, please describe how:
The goals remain the same.
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 Town, each of the venue owners, the board of Directors of Old Deerfield Productions, about 40 volunteers, and the media outlets all need to work together to bring about the Fringe Fest and they all agree that it is great for Downtown Greenfield and are on board.
How does this project relate to a larger community development strategy?
The Greenfield Business Association, The Town, and The Chamber of Commerce have since banded together to designate downtown Greenfield a Cultural Center. One of our venues, The First National Bank is now being renovated into a performance/event space thanks to the attention that has been brought to it through performances allowed to take place there.
What projects or places, if any, inspired your approach to this creative economy project?
I was inspired by the now defunct Brick and Mortar Video Festival which showed me these underutilized Venues when I attended. I knew if they had got doors opened to this event I could wangle in for a Fringe Festival.
Project Specifics
Please list the steps taken to implement the project:
We bushwhacked our way. I have been a theater producer for many years and we just put together a committee of local people and figured it out. We had no idea what we were doing.
If the project steps changed over time, please describe how:
We have honed the festival from 11 shows to 8. We have a bigger volunteer base. People know about the festival so it's fairly easy to promote it now.
What were your major obstacles for the completion of the project?
Finding the venues is the hardest. That's still the hard part.
Who or what was instrumental in overcoming these obstacles?
It's just hard work, I just bug people constantly and when I get turned down I try another spot. I beg everyone I meet to help me. And it is an inspiration to get to know the wonderful artists who perform - it makes you want to do the best for them.
What top three suggestions would you give to others attempting a similar project?
Make friends, make lots of friends. Be patient, they will understand why it is cool eventually. Love everyone no matter how hard it is. Thank people all the time, thank everyone. Be present, listen to needs, have a sense of humor.
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?
I think that people are really thinking of Greenfield as an interesting place to spend an evening, to move to, to raise a family in. Double Take is only a small part of what is going on there: new restaurants, great apartments, train station; but it's an important part. To have art happening in a place gives that place a pulse.
Why do you consider the project successful, as related to your project goals above?
Because people come to it, enjoy it, and return every year.
How did you measure this success or progress?
By attendance. We had about 600 people attend this year.
Please describe any unexpected impacts:
There was such a response to the First National Bank Building and I had to do so much begging to get in there that it's now off limits to us until it is renovated. ACK! We lost our best venue until it's restored!