NEW BEDFORD — New Bedford Creative will begin showing artists and art purveyors this week how to tap into $1.2 million in American Rescue Plan Act grant programs to bounce back from COVID.
As announced by Mayor Jon Mitchell at Hatch Street Studios in May, a total of $1.2 million in funding is being made available to support local artists and art-related organizations over the next three years, according to a press release.
Under ARPA, federal aid was made available to respond to the public health and economic impacts of the public health emergency created by the COVID pandemic.
“The artists that comprise New Bedford’s thriving arts community are themselves small businesses,” said Mitchell. “Funding to accelerate their emergence from the pandemic represents a timely investment in our economy and will energize our cultural scene.”
The New Bedford Economic Development Council’s New Bedford Creative will administer direct grants through three separate initiatives: Art is Everywhere, Wicked Cool Places and ARTnet.
ARTnet is a new artist recovery and training network to help artists recover from the economic impacts of the pandemic by providing financial support, business planning, training workshops, and access to a network of creative-entrepreneur peers.
Art is Everywhere is a grant program that prioritizes creative solutions to expedite the recovery of the COVID pandemic in New Bedford’s neighborhoods. This grant was originally created in 2020 with funding by MassDevelopment’s Transformative Development Initiative and the Barr Foundation as one component of a broader “TDI Creative Cities” initiative to boost arts-based economic development.
Wicked Cool Places is the grant program for making or keeping a place where things are happening and people want to be that involve and impact residents, visitors and/or businesses in New Bedford’s neighborhoods. This grant was originally created in 2019 with funding from New Bedford’s Arts, Culture and Tourism Fund, with additional support by Bristol County Savings Bank.
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Criteria and eligibility guidelines for applying for New Bedford Creative ARPA funding opportunities is available at
“Supporting New Bedford’s arts and culture creators with this funding will help ensure not only immediate vibrancy but long-term vitality,” said Margo Saulnier, creative strategist for New Bedford.
“The three pillars of the program each meet very different needs.”
For example, ARTnet will include cohort-based learning in business and finance, one-on-one technical assistance and mentoring, and working capital grants for artists based in New Bedford. The majority of artists will be selected on the basis of their negative financial circumstances caused by the pandemic, and their readiness to benefit from the opportunity.
Meanwhile, the Art is Everywhere grant program criteria prioritizes creative solutions to expedite recovery from the COVID pandemic. Projects must directly impact one or more current challenges facing residents, visitors and/or businesses in New Bedford’s neighborhoods. Projects that advance diversity, equity, inclusion and access in all forms will be prioritized.
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And finally, the Wicked Cool Places grant program intends to help advance New Bedford as one of the most culturally unique and creative cities in America. This grant aims to support placemaking or placekeeping projects that will directly involve and impact residents, visitors and/or businesses in New Bedford’s neighborhoods.
“The ARPA investment in New Bedford’s arts and culture begins today but really represents a foundation for tomorrow,” said Tony Sapienza, board president of the NBEDC. “It recognizes the commitment to the value of culture the city of New Bedford made when it established New Bedford Creative in 2019 to implement the citywide strategic arts and culture plan, and acknowledges the amazing role the arts has played in the city before the pandemic. And, the truly awesome efforts of artists to help us navigate the challenges of the past few years.”
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New Bedford Creative will be holding in-person information sessions, beginning Sunday, Aug. 21, 3 to 5 p.m. at Verdean Vets Hall, 561 Purchase St.; Tuesday, Aug. 23, 5:30 to 7 p.m. at CEDC, 1501 Acushnet Ave. (Spanish translation available); Wednesday, Aug. 24, 3 to 5 p.m. at Hub128 – Discovery Language Academy, 128 Union St. (Spanish or Portuguese translation available); Thursday, Aug. 25, 4 to 5:30 p.m. at Immigrants Assistance Center, 58 Crapo St. (Portuguese translation available).
New Bedford artists can begin meeting the challenges of the future and explore ARPA funding opportunities now available by visiting The cash awards and support programs have been carefully tailored to, as Saulnier said, “help New Bedford artists realize their ambition and deepen their tremendous positive impact on the city.”


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