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Creative Hot Spot

Seven of 10 UMass President’s Grants Come to Lowell

Associate Prof. Diana Archibald’s 2012 Charles Dickens exhibition and events will be partially funded through the UMass President’s Office’s Creative Economy Initiative.

By Julia Gavin

UMass Lowell strengthened its reputation as a hot-spot for creative economy research in the state when all of its proposals seeking funding from the UMass President's Creative Economy Initiative were approved this spring.

Faculty from UMass Lowell scored big in the 2011 round of Creative Economy Initiative grants from the UMass President's Office, collecting seven of the 10 grants awarded systemwide for a total of $182,900 in project support. 

The grant program fosters creativity and innovation across disciplines, providing seed money for UMass initiatives that support the contributions of the arts, humanities and social sciences to the social and cultural fabric of the Commonwealth. Funded initiatives contribute to the state's economic development and demonstrate significant collaboration with industry, private research institutions and community groups.
Scholarly activities, distinctive cultural events, and innovative advances at UMass Lowell and in the city itself have strengthened the combined profile of the campus and community as an urban laboratory for the creative economy. From cutting-edge literary events and the renowned Lowell Folk Festival to nanomanufacturing research and the study of entrepreneurship, creative thinking and doing feeds Lowell's vitality.

Following "On the Road"

English Dept. Associate Prof. Diana Archibald’s international project, "Charles Dickens and Massachusetts: Untold Stories Exhibition and Programming," has been two years in the making, involving partners from Worcester to London. The exhibition and events will run April 1 through Sept. 3, 2012, and will celebrate the bicentennial of the author’s birth and his connection to Massachusetts, especially Lowell, while drawing visitors to the city from across the world. Dickens toured this acclaimed 19th-century factory city and wrote about the visit in his "American Notes."

The project is modeled after the highly successful 2007 Jack Kerouac "On the Road" scroll manuscript exhibit, which drew more than 25,000 visitors to the area and gained world media attention -- an economic impact the Dickens exhibit seeks to replicate.

“The support from the President's Office will enable us to bring our Dickens exhibit and public programming to the next level,” says Archibald. “With the Kerouac exhibit as our model, we’re aiming high to reach a broad audience next year.”

Linking In to Resources

Management Asst. Prof. Yi Yang received support for her project "Leveraging Online Social Networks to Support Creative Ventures," which will examine how early-stage entrepreneurs use online social networking, such as LinkedIn and Facebook, to build business. The investigators are specifically interested in how the workers connect with other people in the electronic networks to secure resources needed to start their businesses, such as money, labor and knowledge.

“These funds will allow us to focus on how entrepreneurs building the creative economy gather needed startup resources,” says Asst. Prof. Steve Tello of the College of Management, a co-principal investigator with Computer Science's Guanling Chen on the project. “Our hope is to develop recommendations regarding where new entrepreneurs should focus networking time and effort for the success of their venture.”

Other recipients include:

  • Prof. Meg Bond (Psychology) for "Healthy Diversity in Massachusetts: Supporting our Diverse Healthcare Workforce through Innovative Partnerships," co-principal investigators Michelle Haynes (Psychology) and Robin Toof (Center for Family Work and Community)  
  • Prof. Bob Forrant (History) for "2012 Centennial Commemoration of the Bread & Roses Strike in Lawrence, Massachusetts," co-principal investigators Mignon Duffy (Sociology) and Susan Winning (Labor Studies) 
  • Prof. Allyssa McCabe (Psychology) for "Exploring Identity and Family Relationships in Latino and Asian Adolescents and Young Adults through Personal Narratives and Life Stories," co-principal investigators Khanh Dinh (Psychology) and Judy Boccia (School Partnerships). 
  • Prof. Paula Rayman (Sociology) for "Women’s Leadership Exchange: Building Security through Economic and Social Development," co-principal investigator Seth Izen (Staff) 
  • Associate Prof. Karen Roehr (Graphic Design and Advertising) for "The LOWELLcal Experience:  Support your LOWELLcal Culture, Non-profit Organizations and Businesses"
Asst. Prof. Yi Yang's project will help entrepreneurs use online resources in their business plans.