SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Business

February 19, 2014

Creative efforts

BEVERLY — Montserrat College of Art and its partners are now standing at the forefront of the state’s efforts to bolster the creative economy.

Greg Bialecki, secretary of Housing and Economic Development, and Helena Fruscio, Creative Economy Industry director, came to a reception at the art college last week to kick off a statewide Creative Economy Network. This new network is meant to help creative companies find resources, such as space, talent and access to capital, and track their progress.

Creative economy companies include for-profit businesses, such as video game makers, architectural firms and musicians, as well as nonprofits, like museums and theater companies.

Lest you think the creative economy represents a bunch of starving artists, think again: There are more than 120,000 people who work for creative economy firms in the Bay State with an economic impact of $1 billion, according to state officials.

To help bolster those efforts, the art college and its numerous partners were designated on Feb. 12 as part of a statewide Creative Economy Network, with Montserrat named the North Shore regional leader. The college and its partners were the first of five such regional networks to be designated.

To understand the needs of creative companies, Fruscio met with 500 Bay State companies and nonprofits on a listening tour. She found they all had needs in five key areas:

access to business development;

access to capital and financial support;

visibility through events and marketing;

finding creative talent; and

locating space.

She also found that help on a purely statewide level was not enough.

“It was really about what was happening in a given region in those five areas,” she said.

That’s where the idea for regional networks came in, said Fruscio, noting that the North Shore was ahead of the game in thinking about the creative economy — which is why the first such event was held here.

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