Worcester, MA, is a New England industrial city busy reinventing itself.
Worcester is the heart of the Commonwealth; home to 180,000+ residents and 32,000 college students.
In the late 1990s a group of cultural organizations came together to create a unique coalition, in partnership with the City of Worcester, which shines a spotlight on the creative activity taking place in the region.
The Worcester Cultural Coalition is the unified voice of the cultural community. Today 72 cultural organizations (from the stately Worcester Art Museum to the feisty arts collective Fireworks) work together with creative entrepreneurs to incite a panoply of creative activity, encouraging residents and visitors alike to get engaged.
Inspired by the work of Charles Landry, an international authority on city futures and the use of culture in city revitalization, the Worcester Cultural Coalition organized a series of forums in 2005 to encourage a civic dialogue about our great city.
More than four hundred people – artists, entrepreneurs, business and civic leaders, students, and neighborhood activists – took part in many conversations led by Landry over the course of four days, which opened up a dialogue and encouraged people to express their unique vision of the city and its future direction.
Participants identified the need to create an open statement that reflects the future direction of the city. The Cultural Coalition members then worked to cull the suggestions and craft a document to be called “The Worcester Way” (aka WOO Way) which encourages and harnesses creative and imaginative resources and energies to make enduring and transformative changes.
Through innovative thinking and creative problem solving, Worcester has established an identity that highlights its history of innovation and the diversity of its residents. The WOO Way is our call to action with the following creative goals:
Cultivate, nurture, and reward creativity anytime, anywhere. Ensure that every Worcester resident has the opportunity to be creative and innovative.
Value risk-taking and invest in opportunity-making. Remove regulatory barriers and encourage unique and interesting projects.
Celebrate Worcester’s strengths. Help others explore and appreciate its diversity of people, history and architecture, arts and culture, restaurants and nightlife, innovators and entrepreneurs, schools and parks, events and sports.
Inspire and encourage civic engagement. Let all stakeholders share responsibility for positive change. Refuse to support mediocrity, intolerance, disconnectedness, sprawl, poverty, bad schools, exclusivity, and social and environmental degradation.
Be authentic. Develop and market Worcester’s existing unique assets instead of trying to be the “look-alike” of another community.
Since the WOO Way was created six years ago we have worked hard to establish Worcester as a creative city. Creative citymaking is messy work and doesn’t happen over night.
The Worcester Cultural Coalition is the unified voice of the cultural community.
For more information, visit http://www.worcestermass.org/arts-culture-entertainment/arts-culture.