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    (4/27/2010) New Haven (March, 2010) – The City of New Haven Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA), in partnership with the City of New Haven’s Office of Economic Development, and the New Haven Economic Development Corporation (EDC), announces “Project Storefronts”, a storefront for artists program. This pilot program is designed to enliven the City’s commercials districts through the temporary use of empty retail space that encourages artists and “creative entrepreneurs” to test the viability of new creative and arts-related retail or other businesses by providing subsidized access to currently empty retail spaces.

    Many cities across the nation and abroad are seizing the opportunity provided by this current economic downturn to imaginatively utilize community resources by matching entrepreneurial artists and creative entrepreneurs with collaborative property owners with vacant spaces. While many cities have transformed empty retail spaces into galleries or utilized empty store windows as static sites for art installations, New Haven seeks to take this one step further by creating a program in which empty commercial spaces temporarily serve as low-budget arts incubators for performances, education uses, retail or other creative businesses. Working with the Small Business managers from the City’s Office of Economic Development, as well as through the city’s new Economic Development Corporation, the Department of Cultural Affairs’ new program is designed to help guide creative start-up entrepreneurs learn about business while test marketing the viability of their business ideas.

    For this 2010 pilot program, DCA will match property owners of vacant storefronts in New Haven’s commercial districts with artists/arts organizations/creative entrepreneurs and help to negotiate low or no cost use of empty spaces. Selected applicants will be eligible for a small stipend of up to $500 to “build out” the space, create signage, provide lighting, etc. Successful proposals are envisioned as those that identify the most innovative ways to attract interest and have the potential to generate the most foot traffic into the targeted storefront – as well, it’s hoped, into neighboring storefronts. Early discussions with some potential property owners suggest they are willing to participate in order to have these empty storefronts be visited by the public with the goal of attracting long-term tenants. Under the pilot program, two small, select groups of storefronts will be utilized – one cluster in a downtown location and one in a neighborhood commercial area. If the program is successful, both the number of storefronts and neighborhoods served could be expanded in future years.

    Anyone with creative ideas, a proven track record for innovation and success and an interest in testing their entrepreneurial skills are welcome to apply for the program through the “Call for Artists” which is available at www.cityofnewhaven.com/economicdevelopment/culturalaffairs.asp or by contacting DCA at (203) 946-2895. Property owners interested in participating may also contact the Department. Priority consideration will be given to New Haven-based individuals and organizations. Applications will be considered on a competitive basis as received.

    The next Info Session for interested individuals will be held April 30 at 12noon and again May 20 at 5:30pm in New Haven City Hall Meeting Room #2. Interested parties are urged to attend. Anyone with questions or needing more information may contact Margaret Bodell at (203) 946-2895 or publicart@newhavenct.net.

    “Project Storefronts” is managed by the City of New Haven Department Cultural Affairs with support from the New Haven Economic Development Corporation.

    Contact Name: Jessica Mayorga

    Contact Email: jmayorga@newhavenct.net

    Contact Phone: 203-946-7660

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