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Giving away $77,000+ in New Bedford


It’s not often you get to feel like Bill Gates, but once a year members of the New Bedford Local Cultural Council get to feel like a philanthropic member of the 1% – with the public purse, though. On Tuesday night, Dec. 6, members of the council – myself included – voted on this year’s applicants to the NBLCC. “The Local Cultural Council (LCC) Program is the largest grassroots cultural funding network in the nation supporting thousands of community-based projects in the arts, humanities, and sciences annually,” according to

The New Bedford Local Cultural Council is just that – local. It’s part of the Massachusetts Cultural Council network, but the money New Bedford is awarded gets spent on the projects we here in the city judge worthy. Applicants – which include individuals as well as familiar institutions such as museums and schools – essentially pitch an arts or cultural project on their application form. We on the council evaluate and score them.

Keeping score

I can report that members of the council took their duties seriously. The voting was intense and sincere. Members of the council are unpaid volunteers and therefore agnostic about the outcome. It would be inappropriate for me to comment on any individual applications here. But I will say that very many of them were very interesting and exciting. New Bedford can expect some unique cultural offerings in the coming year! The fact that the grants are reimbursement awards helped quiet the fiscally-conservative Republican part of me, too.

As a member of Groundwork!, I’m surrounded by entrepreneurial vision every day at the co-working facility. That’s especially reflected in the Entrepreneurship For All program run out of here by Shelley Cardoos and Jeremiah Hernandez. Some of the passion I’ve seen at their pitch contests was also found in the cultural council applications. I couldn’t help but think how much fun it would have been to follow that model and actually have the people in the room with us selling us on their cultural ideas.

However, we will all see the results soon as the projects we read about over the last few weeks and voted on Tuesday night begin to come alive all over New Bedford during 2017. Last year, some of the events that received funding from the council included the new Upper William Street Festival, Seaport Art Walk, New Bedford Jazzfest, and too many more to list. Each added plenty of zest to life in the city and as a public expenditure yielded important dividends.

Cultural Council events

The New Bedford Local Cultural Council itself has been busy with some zing, as downtown shoppers may be aware. It sponsors the holiday Deck The Windows program and this Saturday, Dec. 10 has put together an Ugly Sweater Pub Crawl.

And doesn’t that just say a lot about the funky charm of New Bedford; it’s local cultural council helps fund school field trips and organizes pub crawls!

Culture truly does enrich the soul – especially when it’s delivered with a pint of Guinness.

Steven Froias