LAUNCH OF PROJECT STOREFRONTS: NEW INITIATIVE BY THE DEPARTMENT OF CULTURAL AFFAIRS PROMOTING THE ARTS & ACTIVATING RETAIL (Part 2)
(8/31/2010) The First Storefront Artists
Among the first storefronts to open is Detritus which opened its doors to the public with a soft opening last Friday, August 27. Owner Alexis Zhangi developed her idea for a curated bookstore offering printed matter from local artists and writers alongside rare and sought after material from high profile publishing houses not yet available in the New Haven area. The bookstore will bring together many writers and poets at its upcoming readings and book events. It has a membership option as well as a retail operation. More than 200 people showed up for her opening and sales were brisk.
Crosby Street Presents (CSP) by entrepreneur Rob Sanchez is essentially a “pop up” gallery and performance space which showcases early and emerging artists in new media, photography and sculpture, offering very affordable ways to collect art. CSP will also formulate an emerging collectors night where artists and future collectors can come together. Work will be available across price ranges from local New Haven area artists as well as from NYC.
For those who enjoy the experience of seeing recycled goods recreated into new products, Upcycle Arts, started by entrepreneurs Ruben Marroquin, Lisa Spetrini and Alan Neider, is just the place. Upcycle Arts represents a variety of artists who offer re-stylized, recycled items for sale in a retail setting and it will also serve as a mini eco-boutique of products by award winning design team GG2G. Upcycle Arts will offer workshops, host gatherings for crafting groups and meet-ups for art special interest groups.
Upcycle Arts along with GG2G are in the process of creating a new up-scale crafting group Elm City Handmade. Elm City Handmade was recently formally accepted as an Etsy “street team”. Well known as an on-line retail outlet, Etsy (www.etsy.com) represents thousands of creative products made by artists from around the world. Many large cities have Etsy “street teams” which collectively market and expand their product offerings. Workshops, events and classes will be available to the public.
The Grove, a new kind of social space for entrepreneurs interested in the concept of co-working and creative business incubation, has been created by Slate Ballard and Ken Janke. The Grove provides counseling and other support on a day-to-day basis to fledgling entrepreneurs involved in creative businesses. The Grove founders were already seeking ways to start this business in New Haven given New Haven’s concentration of creative industries. The opportunity to work with Project Storefronts enabled The Grove to launch much sooner.
Project Storefronts first home is within the Ninth Square development. Ninth Square is owned and managed by Related Companies. Their support for this project was essential. Related is providing the entrepreneurs/artists with free use of the currently vacant retail space while awaiting a new retailers. (quote from related) “We saw an opportunity with Project Storefronts to promote new retail uses to our Ninth Square development. Project Storefronts will promote more visitors to the Ninth Square which provides higher visibility for these retails spaces and at the same time, promotes new patrons”, remarked so and so. Starting with a three month commitment, Related has indicated the possibility of extensions to the lease should the spaces not rent within that time. Meanwhile, the Project Storefronts manager, Margaret Bodell, who works under contract to the City of New Haven, helps to promote the availability of the space to prospective tenants. “While I would hate to leave this beautiful space in the historic Ninth Square anytime soon, the overall goal of the project is to help energize the City’s commercial district and drive potential renters to see them,” said Bodell.
The Economic Development Corporation of New Haven provided $30,000 in funding to help launch this initiative. “The value of this investment was immediately clear as it is in keeping with our mission to spur entrepreneurial activity in New Haven, and hopefully inspire new home-grown businesses” said Anne Haynes, the EDC’s new CEO. With other openings, classes and workshops planned for both day and evening hours, as well as daily operations, it is anticipated that this project will send thousands into the Ninth Square, increasing activity for other area cultural amenities, stores and restaurants. The investment is helping to cover the cost of utilities, signage, and simple fit-out expenses for paint, lighting, shelving and storage as well as insurance.
The Department of Cultural Affairs is also partnering with the Office of Economic Development which is making its staff and resources available to artist entrepreneurs who want to develop business plans and think longer term about the future viability of their business models and with the Arts Council of Greater New Haven who will be offering an Entrepreneurial Workshop on Wednesday, October 6th in the storefronts common area. Open to all artists with the entrepreneurial spirit, this workshop will help attendees assess whether they have what it takes to develop a small business. For more information visit www.newhavenarts.org or call 203-772-2788.
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