What were the specific goals of this creative economy project? Describe the community development challenge or opportunity that your project was designed to address:
In year one and two our specific goals with steAmfest were to reawaken awareness in the community of the Village of Essex Junction to the many teaching and learning opportunities available here which have been embedded through local businesses and schooling institutions. We desire to foster a new appreciation for the potential intersections between the Arts and STEM concepts through an Arts and Innovation festival. We hoped to help create a new lens for possibility of economic and community growth through making room within the existing infrastructure of the Village to support creative community and build creative economy. We hoped to produce an experience of fun and engagement for the local and more rural populations who would be drawn into the event that would help shift the ideas of what is possible and available in Essex Junction.
If the goals change over time, please describe how:
Our goals have changed from producing an event that postures that the Village of Essex can be an destination point and arts district to include actively engaging a creative community and the municipalities to begin to envision what having an Arts and Culture committee could do for community asset mapping and strategic planning for the Essex masterplan. Our goals for 2019 are to reach further into the community of arts and innovation to seek collaborations with secondary and higher education institutions, engaging students and showcase innovations. We also seek to build a stronger team of residents to actively work with us on steAmfest and create more opportunities for creatives throughout the year, as pop ups, workshops and studios
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):
Those involved over the last 2 years have been several local volunteers, individuals who have worked a remarkable number of hours to support the project through logistical planning, web design and maintenance, fundraising and media marketing. The Village of Essex Trustees, have voted to support the festival and authorized street closures and allocations of sponsorship funds, access to public works for support and connections with police and fire for safety. The Town of Essex economic development committee one time sponsorship for the development of the festival as an economic development strategy. Many VT state artists and musicians who have participated as vendors or entertainment during the festivals. Local businesses, and corporate sponsors who have supported us through in-kind donations or financial contributions ranging between $100 - $2500.
How does this project relate to a larger community development strategy?
As has been stated earlier this festival has been a spark for the community and the Village municipality to begin to consider how arts and culture may factor into the overall strategy of revitalization of the downtown Village of Essex and potentially for Essex Town itself. steAmfest has proven that the Village can be a walkable arts district, and emerging creative community. It has demonstrated that artists can successfully relocate and start studios and business in the underutilized or recently vacant spaces. It has proven the curiosity and hunger of the local community for arts and culture experiences. And has awakened a potential new vision for the future of the community and infrastructure
What projects or places, if any, inspired your approach to this creative economy project?
Projects and places that have inspired the project have been ArtHop, an arts and business alliance sponsored festival that has happened in Burlington Vt for the last 20+ years. Train Hop a village sponsored attempt to engage community in a village walk during the annual tree lighting. Artist markets and co working and co creative spaces that are community development oriented.