Gloucester Cultural ‘Place Making’ Model: Shared Vision, Spirit of Collaboration

Tom Daniel, Director of the Community Development Department, will be a featured speaker at “Arts Culture & Community: A Forum on Public Art & Planning” on Thursday, June 26th, an event co-hosted by Massachusetts Cultural Council and Metropolitan Area Planning Council. The MCC submitted an article about why Gloucester has been able to successfully build collaborative environment within the arts and cultural community, one that sets the stage for expanded cultural economic activity and growth. 

By Massachusetts Cultural Council

A cultural district is a geographical area in a city or town that has a concentration of cultural facilities, activities, and assets. It is a walkable, compact area that is easily identifiable to visitors and residents and serves as a center of cultural and artistic activity. Districts boost economic activity and heighten visibility. In the past two years, the state has designated two cultural districts in the City of Gloucester: Rocky Neck and Harbortown. Why?

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Gloucester’s scenic beauty has drawn painters to live and work in the city since the early 19th century. Native-born Fitz Henry Lane, whose home is now a museum on the waterfront, became well known for his radiant harbor scenes. Other notable Gloucester painters include Winslow Homer, Childe Hassam, Cecilia Beaux, Jane Peterson, Emile Gruppe, Mark Rothko, Edward Hopper, Robert Henri, and Maurice Prendergast.  Anecdotally, several painters gave the city their paintings in lieu of property taxes, and the city boasts an extraordinary collection of artwork, much of it on view in various city buildings and the Cape Ann Museum.


Today, more than 600 visual artists are members of the North Shore Artists Association, which is located in Smith Cove, home of the Rocky Neck Art Colony, the oldest art colony in the nation. Writers, filmmakers, sculptors, actors, musicians also call Gloucester home. For a small city, Gloucester has a highly creative streak. This translates into a place that offers residents and visitors the chance to see the work of artists living in the city now, as well as in the past. This long history also tells the story of a community that has welcomed creative people for the better part of 200 years, a creative community with an independent spirit that has an unusually good working relationship with local government and business.

Setting the stage for new economic activity takes commitment, energy, and focus. Artists and cultural organizations are central to a successful cultural district, but they cannot do this work alone. Other stakeholders – local government, business owners and entrepreneurs must be involved. Developing a shared vision and goals, working collaboratively, being flexible and responsive as opportunities arise, and trying out new ideas is fundamental to a district’s success. Passion, dreams, and hope are also essential. So why Gloucester? Well, whether you pick up a paint brush, develop the town’s budget, or brew a killer espresso, it is evident that Gloucester means business.


Mission Japan: Gloucester Goes Far East for New Ideas and Opportunities


By Mayor Carolyn Kirk

Travel is always a whirlwind of activity, excitement and with any luck, eye-opening experiences. And my mission trip to Japan—in search of economic growth and to spotlight Gloucester’s cutting-edge fisheries science based on sequencing fish DNA—was rich in all of these. These pictures—and more to come—give an overview of the incredibly informative experiences I had while supporting our community. A world of opportunity is coming to Gloucester through places like Japan that will expand job growth on our working waterfront, support fishing and spur growth.



Big city, where fish is big business.

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Tsukiji fish market selfie – taken at 3:30 a.m. after 30 minute wait in downpour! There was a two hour wait for a tuna auction. Dozens of market faithfuls waited patiently for the bidding to begin.

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35summers keeps the historic Mighty Mac boatwear brand alive and well. And, with some hard work, a renewed presence in Gloucester in the months ahead.


Fishing tourism is alive and well in Japan!



Kagoshima is the government seat of the prefecture on the isle of Kyushu, 850 miles south of Tokyo, home to a new concept in sustainable, minimal impact aquaculture.

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Japanese innovator Global Ocean Works, one of the Gloucester mission’s primary funders, has created a fish farming operation different than anything I’d ever heard about. It has a very unobtrusive presence in the bay and uses best sustainable practices to minimize maritime impacts. Its processing facility — a state-of-the-art, sterile operation — is equally impressive.

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Traditional dining around a kotatsu is a staple of Japanese business. I was honored to dine with executives from Kagoshima Bank, another mission funder, and GOW.

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Warmest possible welcome by Mayor Owaki Masaya of Tarumizu, home to GOW’s aquaculture center.

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The suburb of Ibusuki features a destination life sciences center focused on cancer treatment and research. It is one of a few places on earth where patients can get therapy via a $175 million proton beam. The Ibusuki Medipolis offers patients a resort hotel and spa while they undergo cancer treatment for multiple days or weeks.



The Phoenix Hall is a Buddhist temple built nearly 1,000 years ago and contains the great statute of Amida. Immortalized on Japanese currency and postage stamps, it is designated by the UN as a World Heritage site.

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Traditional tea houses are a staple of Japanese life but Green Tea Ice Cream — a favorite of President Obama –provided a delightful diversion.


The world famous bullet train in Kyoto is a great way to travel.


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The trip would not have been complete without spending time in our sister city of Tamano. Mayor Susumo Kuroda was the consummate host, taking our delegation on an extensive tour of public art installations across the waterfront, historic and modern fishing operations, even traditional boats that 5th graders are required to learn about. Gloucester is privileged to have a special relationship with Tamano and it was an honor to represent our community there.

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Gloucester Tourism: Summer ’14 Expected to Sizzle


By Carol Thistle


That buzz you hear on the beaches, in the city’s cultural districts and along the working waterfront is the sound of a summer tourism season that’s expected to sizzle. As the Boston Globe recently reported, the state’s tourism industry is expecting the best season since the start of the Great Recession.

In Gloucester, a community that drives the Cape Ann tourism sector with dozens of events throughout the season, optimism for summer visitor growth abounds. reports that tourism-related internet searches and website visits rose more than 15% throughout the spring and in May alone, traffic spiked by 66% compared with 2013.

Considering the economic importance of tourism to Massachusetts (the state reports that tourism supports more than 126,000 jobs across the Commonwealth) and the city, positive indicators for the ’14 season are welcome news. As always, Gloucester is ready to welcome guests with a diverse array of attractions and events throughout the summer:



Gloucester is proud to get summer started as a participating community in the Cape Ann Artisans Tour. Gloucester has been named one of the country’s top ten Art Destinations by American Style Magazine.

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The city’s oldest and perhaps best-known festival, visitors from near and afar join the city’s fishing community to honor the patron saint of the fisherman, St. Peter. The Fiesta includes parades, carnival, concerts, sporting competitions like Bocce and the Seine boat races. Don’t miss the one-of-a-kind Greasy Pole contest and the Blessing of the Fleet!

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There is nothing quite like as the annual “Fishtown Horribles Parade” tradition, a cornucopia of sights, sounds and festivities. The parade, which carries on a tradition that hearkens back to the 19th Century (and some, say, perhaps back to the 17th Century), features musicians and bands, brightly and artfully decorated floats, flying candy and hideous masks. Stick around for spectacular fireworks over Gloucester Harbor!


This new, FREE outdoor family series, which features games and fun for kids prior to the 8:00 p.m. movie start time, offers a great line up of classics, including the Wizard of Oz (July 9th); Raiders of the Lost Ark (July 16th), Back to the Future (July 23rd), Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factor (July 30th) and ET (August 13th.)

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The Downtown Gloucester Block Parties, which take place every third Saturday during July, August and September, transform Main Street into an entertainment mall. Enjoy five performance stages featuring music, dance, theater and variety acts. Main Street restaurants offer al fresco dining and stores are open until 11 p.m. There also are plenty of children’s activities to keep the youngsters amused.  Come by to eat, shop and dance in the street!

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The 3rd Annual Blues Fest takes place on the beautiful harbor side setting of Stage Fort Park. This year’s list of performers includes: Ronnie Baker Brooks, Biscuit Miller & the Mix, Sugar Ray and the Bluestones. Tickets are $28 in advance; $40 at the gate.


In its 34th year, the Gloucester Waterfront Festival celebrates 175 juried artists and craftsmen at Stage Fort Park from across the USA. Visitors enjoy unique works, a delicious menu of ethnic and summertime fare, and free, live family music.

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The Gloucester Schooner Festival is the city’s premier sailing event and honors the heritage of fishing schooners and sailing vessels. From the Parade of Lights to the Parade of Sail to the Mayor’s Race, the weekend is a lively mix of majesty, pageantry food and fireworks. Look for a special attraction this year—the U.S. Coast Guard Barque Eagle, a 295-foot-ship that features 22,300 square feet of sail and six miles of rigging