Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start of summer, is right around the corner and many Berkshire businesses, residents, and visitors are excited for the warm days ahead. This is also an important time for arts and culture in the Berkshires as museums, theaters, festivals, cinemas, and historic sites provide a boon to our local economy. Yet, these cultural venues only represent a small slice of Berkshire County’s creative sector.
Individual artists, small businesses, creative manufacturers, cultural organizations, support services, and creative consumers together make up what is known as the creative economy. The Berkshires’ creative economy accounts for about 6,000 jobs, sparks downtown redevelopment, encourages innovation, spurs economic growth, and makes our region a more attractive place to live and work.
The creative organizations, people, products, and services in the Berkshires are incredibly unique and the quality of these assets define our region as a place full of aesthetic, intellectual, and emotional value. In March, the National Center for Arts Research released their second annual NCAR Arts Vibrancy Index Report and ranked our region as the 12th most arts vibrant small-to-mid-sized community in the nation.
1Berkshire is dedicated to supporting our arts vibrancy and encouraging the growth of our creative economy. In early May, we held the 5th annual BerkChique! Premier Fashion Resale Event at The Stationery Factory in Dalton and saw record attendance at the Friday Night First Dibs Party. This event not only drives attention to our clothing and fashion industry in the Berkshires but also raises important funds for nonprofit arts and cultural organizations.
We also focused on the creative economy in your recent Berkshire Starts pitch competitions. The second competition we hosted centered around creative business ideas and ventures, and provided an opportunity for five entrepreneurs to both present their innovative businesses to a panel of judges and connect with an audience of mentors and advisors who can help their ventures thrive. Although this pitch series wrapped up on May 3rd, we continue to provide assistance and resource access to current and future creative entrepreneurs through private consultation meetings.
Our creative economy networking events, called SPARKs, have been must-attend events for the creative community for over eight years and two more of these events will be held in July and October. In addition, 1Berkshire’s Entrepreneurial Meetups are popular events that help entrepreneurs in all industries support and inspire each other. Our next Entrepreneurial Meetup, which will be held on June 8th at Pleasant and Main in Housatonic, is another great opportunity for artists and creative business owners to connect and share best practices.
The creative economy is important for the Berkshires and for 1Berkshire and we are here to assist you in starting or growing your creative economy endeavor. For more information email Julia Dixon, 1Berkshire’s Creative Economy Specialist, at firstname.lastname@example.org.