Seaport Cultural District cause to celebrate in New Bedford

mqdefaultBy SIMÓN RIOS
May 16, 2014 12:00 AM
NEW BEDFORD — The New Bedford Seaport Cultural District was celebrated Thursday with the unveiling of a new video, selling New Bedford as a city thick with love, art and culture.
“Fall in love, spread the love,” said Marketing and Tourism Director Dagny Ashley following the event at Seafire Grillehouse and Bar.
“We have a vibrant cultural district,” Ashley said. “We have so much to offer, from museums, galleries, tons of events and festivals (trust me, I know), parades, businesses, restaurants, retail and nonprofits that support the district goals and our vision.”
The Massachusetts Cultural Council approved New Bedford’s district in March. Overlapping part of the National Park, the district runs east-west from State Pier to Sixth Street, and north-south between Elm and Spring streets.
An original song about the city by musician Cedric Josey was featured in a music video, which was produced by Ben Gilbarg of Visionary Communications. The video will be released today and spread through social media.
The cultural district is being organized by a 30-member committee, comprised of an array of cultural and civic leaders. While the city tourism council is preparing to launch a new website, a smartphone app will give visitors a bird’s eye view into what’s happening in New Bedford. Ashley said both are expected to launch in time for the arrival of the Charles W. Morgan on June 28.
Michael Metzler, former head of St. Anne’s Hospital, played a leadership role in the group. He was presented with a T-shirt that reads: “Dartmouth is my town, New Bedford is my city.”
“I was just blown away with not only the history, but the amount of art and culture that exists in the city,” Metzler said at the Thursday soiree.
“Getting the designation is just the beginning”¦. What the designation brings is a whole process where we come together collaboratively and we set goals, we do planning, and we execute together.”
Although the designation doesn’t come with any funding — and he was hesitant to support it in the beginning for that reason — Mayor Jon Mitchell said part of its power rests in bringing people together.
“It does make a lot of sense, because again, it’s really a mechanism to bring people together, and to bring people together around a cause,” he said. “The money will follow. The money will follow.”
Mitchell noted that New Bedford has the seventh highest rate of artist residents in the United States.
“It runs counter to the stigma that we all face as a city, and as we continue to rebrand the place, it’s important to emphasizes just how artistic we are.”
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