Community Development Block Grant
Success Stories

Lynn, MA - Mayor Patrick J. McManus

Arts and Cultural District

The City of Lynn has used CDBG funds to create a special Arts and Cultural District which concentrates an array of cultural and arts-oriented uses in a small area and is intended to spawn secondary redevelopment. With support from the City and the broader Lynn community, the District is a diverse area in which small-scale entrepreneurs from all ethnic groups help drive its economy and build its future. While the Community Minority Cultural Center, LynnArts, Inc., and RAW Art Works are the District's main components, the North Shore Community College, the Lynn Museum/Lynn Historical Society, and Heritage State Park Visitors Center also contribute to its viability.

Opening in September 1997, the Community Minority Cultural Center promotes multiculturalism, provides cultural enrichment programs in which youths and adults can promote pride in the achievements of all ethnic groups; disseminates information regarding social services and economic opportunities; and provides a place where persons of diverse cultures can meet, conduct programs, share experiences and address mutual concerns. At the Center, which is supported with CDBG funds, the CASE Program is an after-school education initiative which targets at-risk students; the Matzeliger Fellows Project develops employable skills for high school students; the Community Technology Center provides career learning and makes information technologies accessible to the community.

LynnArts, Inc. provides technical services to visual, literary and performing artists and promotes artistic and cultural activities for Lynn residents. The primary goals of LynnArts are to provide resources and support to local arts and cultural organizations and to sponsor and coordinate cultural events and activities which are offered to the public. LynnArts, founded in 1992, is housed in a classically-styled former bank building (constructed in 1891) in downtown Lynn. CDBG funds were used in its renovation and support its operation. Artist studios have been completed and are up and running. LynnArts' third and fourth floors are occupied by WFNX, an alternative rock radio station. LynnArts' programming includes a city-wide cultural festival and an Arts Can Teach Program which involves artists and teachers integrating art into the school curriculum.

Raw Art Works (RAW) provides visual art projects using innovative techniques that help troubled urban youth improve their communication skills, confront personal problems and develop positive self-identity. CDBG funds are used to provide RAW Space, the first collaborative art studio in Lynn where kids can "hang out" while creating and learning. RAW opened RAW Space for the City's youth (RAW Kids) to offer them art projects which challenge their assumptions about themselves, art, creativity and the trust of others. RAW's goals are to help RAW Kids confront their feelings, deal with conflicts and stay in school. RAW sets high standards and provides a structure in which kids learn the connection between efforts and results.

Both LynnArts and Raw Art Works were honored for their youth programming at the Boston Foundation's Annual Meeting in March 1998.

Future plans for the District include a theater in LynnArts that will offer entertainment at little or no cost to neighborhood residents. Galleries will be set up in local businesses, and a plan for outdoor murals in the District calls for historical themes celebrating the diversity of Lynn's residents. Other new initiatives will support the development of small businesses through focused technical assistance and grants.

Contact: Frank Meilinger, Office of the Mayor, (781) 598-4000

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The United States Conference of Mayors

J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
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