The City of Lynn and Creative Collective have supported the creation of fourteen outdoor dining areas throughout the city in time for the summer weather. Each area has been designed to fit its location, maximize accessibility for pedestrians and diners, and support the goals of business owners. The team explored the feasibility of outdoor dining at twenty-one different restaurants, and provided assistance in designing, building, and beautifying outdoor dining areas in the locations that worked.
Over half of the new outdoor dining areas are operated by women- or minority-owned businesses. “This has been a terrific opportunity to activate our commercial corridors and rethink how we use the public realm in a way to better support our independent businesses,” says Mayor Thomas McGee. “Our restaurants, which represent cuisines from all over the world, are a major draw to our downtown area, and this program increases the visibility and viability of these enterprises. I am looking forward to exploring how we can establish a more permanent outdoor dining program in the future.”
“This project has made people stop and notice. We have been open for three years, and since the patio was installed, business has doubled,” said Amalia Sanchez of B Sweet Bakery. “People keep walking in and asking ‘When did you open?’ Then leave with a treat.” As a part of this project, Creative Collective also recruited and trained five local artists of color, curated from the Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) artist database created as a part of the New England Foundation for the Arts grant project led by Creative Collective and the Lynn Museum.
“When the collective asked me if I would be interested in painting the barrier for my sister’s restaurant, El Gran Jaguar, I jumped at the opportunity,” says Kimberly Bertrand. “I was able to meet truly talented artists, all of which were not only helpful but welcoming. For the first time in my life, I felt like a professional artist.”
Tia Cole, special events manager for Creative Collective, expresses the importance of the connection between the creative workforce, municipalities, and economic development. “Through this project, we were able to showcase the value of bringing in the creative workforce into the process. Projects like this can put local people to work in their own communities, better activate our downtown economy, and improve the overall quality of life.”
In addition to the work from Creative Collective and participating small business owners, this project has been supported by MassDOT’s Shared Streets grant, as well as funding from the City’s Office Community Development and the Economic Development and Industrial Corporation. Beyond financial support, the City’s Planning Department, Department of Public Works, Law Office, License Commission, and Police Department all provided necessary administrative support.
Creative Collective LLC connects and fosters the small business community and the creative workforce providing opportunities, technical assistance, and business support across Essex County.
To learn more about Creative Collective, visit creativecollectivema.com. To learn more about the NEFA Collective Imaginings Grant and BIPOC Database, visit creativecollectivema.com/collective-imagination-for-spatial-justice.