"Project Storefronts": An Exciting New Initiative by New Haven Dept of Cultural Affairs Activates Underused Retail with Creative Enterprises

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The New Haven Department of Cultural Affairs recently launched "Project Storefronts", a program designed to enliven the City's commercial districts. Project Storefronts encourages artists and "creative entrepreneurs" to test the viability of new enterprises by providing access to empty retail spaces. The Department of Cultural Affairs is leading this initiative with funding from the Economic Development Corporation of New Haven (EDC), in partnership with the City of New Haven's Office of Economic Development and Related Properties (Ninth Square property owner).

"Project Storefronts demonstrates the best of New Haven -- our arts community, our thriving downtown and our entrepreneurial spirit," said Mayor John DeStefano, Jr.

During this economic downturn, many cities are imaginatively utilizing community resources to match entrepreneurial artists/creative entrepreneurs with property owners of vacant spaces. "While many cities around the country have transformed empty retail spaces into galleries or utilized empty store windows as static sites for art installations, New Haven has taken this concept one step farther," said Barbara Lamb, the City's Director of Cultural Affairs. "By creating Project Storefronts, empty commercial space will temporarily be transformed into low-budget arts incubators for performances, education, retail or other creative businesses."

Working in tandem with the Small Business Managers from the City's Office of Economic Development and New Haven's Economic Development Corporation, the Department of Cultural Affairs' new program is designed to help creative start-up entrepreneurs learn about business while test marketing their products. “Artists, technology professionals and entrepreneurs are part of the creative economy and function as a major driver of economic growth in our City," said Kelly Murphy, Economic Development Administrator. "Project Storefronts is an important instrument for the promotion of the creative economy in New Haven."

"This investment 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.

"Project Storefronts demonstrates the best of New Haven -- our arts community, our thriving downtown and our entrepreneurial spirit," said Mayor John DeStefano, Jr. "Project Storefronts takes currently vacant retail space and turns that space into a showcase for artists and entrepreneurship."

The First Storefront Artists

Detritus: A bookstore offering curated works from local artists and writers alongside rare material from high profile publishing houses.

Crosby Street Presents: A "pop up" gallery and performance space showcasing early and emerging artists in new media, photography and sculpture.

Upcycle Arts: A retail venue for a variety of artists who offer “re-stylized” recycled items. Working in conjunction with the award winning design team GG2G, Upcycle Arts will also serve as a mini eco-boutique. Upcycle Arts & GG2G, under the Elm City Handmade label, have been formally accepted as an Etsy "street team". Well known as an on-line retail outlet, Etsy (http://www.etsy.com) represents thousands of creative products made by artists from around the world.

The Grove: A new kind of social space for entrepreneurs interested in the concept of co-working and creative business incubation. The Grove provides work spaces, wireless connectivity, counseling and other practical support on a day-to-day basis to fledgling creative entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneur Support

Project Storefronts is partnering with the Office of Economic Development to assist artistic entrepreneurs, on a one-to-one basis, in developing viable short and long term business plans.

About The City of New Haven’s Department of Cultural Affairs
The City of New Haven’s Department of Cultural Affair is dedicated to enhancing the City’s quality of life and supporting its economic development through the production of events, the commissioning of public art and assisting and promoting New Haven’s many artists and cultural organizations.

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