State official comes bearing gift and lavish praise for AHA!

By Steve Urbon
NEW BEDFORD – Thursday’s AHA! Night downtown attracted two notable visitors: a state official bearing a check for $32,000, and the publisher of Art New England magazine, where New Bedford’s resurgence is this issue’s cover story.
About 100 people filled the New Bedford Art Museum to hear the announcement by Anita Walker, executive director of the Massachusetts Cultural Council, of the $32,000 grant to AHA! to keep it going into its 12th year.
“New Bedford truly is a role model and an example of the creative economy,” she said. When other cities ask what is working elsewhere, Walker said, she tells them to look at New Bedford for proof of what a relatively modest investment in arts and culture can accomplish.
No other city, she said, “has this vigorous, passionate, enthusiastic, sincere, relentless support.”
AHA! Night (arts, history architecture) is credited by both Walker and by the magazine publisher, Tim Montgomery, with being a large part of the building of the arts community downtown and its unusually close cohesion.
Craig Dutra, director of the Community Foundation of Southeastern Massachusetts, told the gathering that because of its commitment and cooperation, New Bedford’s arts economy weathered the recession when it could have meant the hollowing out of the arts scene.
March 11, 2011 12:00 AM
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