The City of Providence Profiles Creative, Innovative Culture
PROVIDENCE, RI – The City of Providence announced the launch of a new interview series, ThinkPVD.com, to complement its #ThinkPVD initiative that encourages residents and visitors to “think, shop, and buy local.”
In partnering with the City to profile its dynamic creative community, economic potential and the strengths that make Providence an especially appealing place to live, work and visit, local media group Steer Digital produced a series of video interviews with some of the country’s leading creative and innovative professionals.
“It was important for us to capture how thought-leaders from outside our city and state perceive Providence – and in general, Rhode Island.” said Carlos Toro, founder of Steer Digital. “Our idea was to sit with guests who had visited the City to interact with local artists and ask them what their perspective is on the future of this city and state. That outside opinion is needed to broaden the discussion as to what’s possible here.”
Interviewees include Bruce Katz, Vice President of the Brookings Institution, Dorothy Jones-Davis, Executive Director of Nation of Makers and a leading voice in the maker movement; Matthew Manos, Founder and Managing Director of verynice, a design strategy consultancy that gives half of its work away for free to nonprofit organizations; Avi Mallinger, of Foodworks; artist, creative entrepreneur, and curator Darrell Kinsel, Co-founder of BOOM concepts; and Matt Stinchcomb, Co-founder of Etsy, a peer-to-peer e-commerce website for handmade or vintage items, and director of the Etsy.org foundation. Users can watch the interviews on the website ThinkPVD.com.
“This is a very special place,” said Katz, a Brown University alumnus who visited Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza in May to discuss strengthening and building upon the City’s relationships with local non-profit partners to meet the challenges and opportunities of global urbanization. “Most parts of the United States, or frankly, Europe and other parts of the world would die for what you have.”
Providence is conveniently in the middle of the most densely populated and powerful economic corridor on the East Coast and its strengths align with fast growth sectors like biotech, design, food, and wellness.
“Brookings believes that Providence has the potential to be one of the most distinctive innovative and creative economies in the country given its location, city and state leadership, stellar anchor institutions and incomparable quality of place,” said Katz during his visit last May. “There is clear momentum to build on and real opportunity for new and expanded collaborative efforts.”
Through lead departments such as the Office of Economic Development, the Department of Planning and Development and the Office of Economic Opportunity, Providence has invested millions to boost the local and regional economy. This year, Mayor Elorza introduced a comprehensive Capital Improvement Plan and will invest $45-million on city infrastructure and public spaces.
“Having folks at the top of your leadership and government, like Mayor Elorza, who are really on board – slowly you’re starting to gain traction because you’re doing so many different things right; people are really starting to see [Providence] as a destination,” said Dorothy Jones-Davis. Ms. Jones-Davis visited Providence during the third annual PVDFest where she spoke about the city’s creative ecosystem at the “Making A Lively Experiment: The PVDFest Ideas Conference.”
Many of the creatives interviewed spotlighted the City’s celebrated relationships with local artists and cultural organizations. Through the Department of Art, Culture + Tourism, the city has promoted arts, culture and creativity as more than just sources of entertainment or civic pride, but as engines of economic growth and urban revitalization.
“This direct conversation between the government and artists is a really great marriage because the members of that community could be at that table participating in the actual creation of their town,” said Matthew Manos. “These groups represent the people that have power to bring change and the power to imagine change and so when you bring those two together I feel like there’s really this perfect storm of innovation and social impact and that’s an exciting idea that I’ve never really seen done before.”
As many of the interviewees noted, Providence is well-known for using its public realm as a canvas for experimentation and innovation. The City has recently announced a planned $6 million project to revitalize the banks of the Woonasquatucket River Corridor to support the economic, social, and cultural assets among the diverse neighborhoods along the river. The planning process for which recently began with a month-long public comment period that will collect input from a wide range of stakeholders.
“Other cities say that they prioritize the arts by providing funding, opening new museums, things like that,” said Manos. “What Providence is doing that makes them special is that they’re not just throwing money at arts but they’re actually asking artists to be a part of the future and what this city is and that’s such a different level of commitment and appreciation.”
All interviews can be found at www.ThinkPVD.com. Interviews will continue to be added as part of an ongoing project by Steer Digital.
ABOUT STEER DIGITAL: Steer Digital is based in Providence. Their most recent high-profile project was the directing, producing and filming of “Shark Vortex,” for the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week 2017. Steer was founded in 2013 and now provides video development, TV production, web design and brand identity services for local and national clients.