"Art inspires us. It spurs us to innovate and drives us to imagine the impossible. Culture grounds us. It connects us to our past, brings us together and lifts us up."


The Creative County Initiative (CCI) presents an opportunity to mobilize our region's artists, arts organizations and community and business leaders to collectively enhance the quality of life in Essex County. Our vision is to increase the vibrancy of our communities by investing in the transformative power of arts and culture. 


By doing this, we can:

  • Create a regional voice for arts and culture in Essex County.
  • Transform our cities and towns by promoting the importance of arts and culture in community development.
  • Increase arts and cultural experiences that celebrate diversity, bring about social equity and ensure inclusion for all in the arts.
  • Support artists and the creative economy.
  • Elevate Essex County as a vibrant, creative place to live and work.

In partnership with the Barr Foundation's Creative Commonwealth Initiative, ECCF will lead this two-year pilot initiative, providing more than $750,000 in funding.

The Barr Foundation is a leading Boston-based organization investing in human, natural and creative potential. they advance arts and creativity in the Commonwealth through grantmaking, building capacity, establishing cross-sector partnerships, reaching diverse under-resourced communities and cultivating arts donors.

Apply for Public Art or Creative Placemaking Grants


This initiative will SUPPORT:



With support from the Barr Foundation and ECCF's donors, funding will be available in three distinct areas over the two-year alternative:

  • Local Cultural Plan Workshops/Toolkits - one-day workshops (offered in sub-regions of Essex County and in partnership with Metropolitan Area Planning Council and Merrimack Valley Planning Commission) to facilitate local cultural planning partnerships. We anticipate these will begin in the fall of 2018. Details available summer of 2018.
  • Creative Placemaking Grants - funding that encourages creative placemaking in communities. View Grant Guidelines.
  • Public Art Grants - funding for interactive public art projects that connect people through a shared experience. View Grant Guidelines.



An annual countywide summit will bring together artists, nonprofits, businesses and municipal leaders, donors and the general community to learn, connect and collaborate during a full day of meaningful discussion, workshops and networking.



A regional online website and calendar will allow artists and organizations to promote their events and activities directly to the general public. This platform will foster resource sharing and communication across the arts community: public art forums, resource tools, classifieds and more.

www.EssexCountyCreates.org has launched!

If you have any questions about submitting an event or registering your organization on this new site, please email calendar@essexcountycreates.org.



A countywide arts and culture plan will connect our 34 cities and towns through our shared values and heritage, improving the quality of life in Essex County. This plan will "map" our region's arts and cultural assets, create a vision for cultural tourism and connect our coastal, city and rural communities through arts and culture. A cultural plan will leverage these assets into measurable economic impact.


ECCF and a group of thought leaders, led by an experienced consultant, will develop a regional cultural plan in 2018-2019.





Artsopolis Network Members: Akron OH | Austin TX | Bainbridge Island WA | Birmingham AL | Boston MA | Cape Cod MA | Cincinnati OH | Cleveland OH | Colorado Springs CO | Columbia SC | DuPage County IL | Essex County MA | Flagstaff AZ | Flint MI | Fort Lauderdale FL | Indianapolis IN | Kalamazoo MI | Kansas City MO | Macon GA | Main Line Area PA | Marin County CA | Marquette County MI | Mendocino County CA | Middlesex County NJ | Milwaukee WI | Montgomery County MD | Napa Valley CA | Nashville TN | Niagara County NY | Oklahoma City OK | Orange County CA | Orlando FL | Ottawa IL | Panama City FL | Pittsburgh PA | Providence RI | Quito, Ecuador | Richardson TX | Sacramento CA | San Antonio TX | St. Cloud MN | St. Croix Valley MN/WI | St. Johns County FL | Stillwater MN | Tallahassee FL | Tampa Bay FL | Utah | Ventura CA | York County PA


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