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AHA! Celebrates 14 Years of Artful Service
Staff, Steering Committee Members and other friends of AHA! (Art History Architecture) Night gathered on Thursday, June 14th at the New Bedford Art Museum for the 14th Annual Meeting of AHA!, a long-standing, successful project of the Community Foundation of Southeastern Massachusetts.
The purpose of the meeting was to welcome new members, announce newly-elected officers, and discuss past successes as well as plans for the future. Mayor Jon Mitchell and State Representative Tony Cabral spoke briefly to confirm their support of the AHA! project.
The following were newly-elected as volunteer members of the Steering Committee; their posts reflect an important commitment to the region’s arts, culture and economic growth:
Jill Horton-Simms, current President of the Friends of the New Bedford Public Library, New Bedford Art Museum Board Member and interior designer
Linda Rodriguez, Branch Manager and Assistant Treasurer of the downtown New Bedford
BayCoast Bank Branch
Jay Lanagan, co-owner of Cork Wine & Tapas, Pizan’s, Rose Alley Ale House, and several soon-to-be-opened restaurants in the region
Noelle Foye, new director of ArtWorks! in downtown New Bedford
In addition to welcoming new members during the Annual Meeting, new officers were announced. Tracy Furtado and Stacie Charbonneau Hess will Co-Chair AHA! for a one-year term. Dana Rebeiro will serve as Secretary and Nelson Hockert-Lotz as Treasurer.
History of AHA!:
AHA! night began in 1999 as the collaborative vision of cultural institutions in the downtown area who wished to highlight the artistic activity in the region. Along with space and support from the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth Center for Performing and Visual Arts, the first AHA! Night took place in July of 1999 with just 14 partners and an audience of 200.
Well over a decade later, AHA! now has close to 70 area partners and generous financial support from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, Island Foundation, National Park Service, UMASS CVPA, Member/Partners, local businesses and individuals, as well as an active and engaged volunteer Steering Committee. AHA! Night now attracts nearly 2,000 citizens per month, with that number rising considerably during the summer months.
AHA! is a built-in audience for new galleries, area musicians, youth performance groups, and just about every cultural activity to be found in and around New Bedford. The purpose of AHA! has always been to make arts and culture accessible to all, regardless of income. Honoring this mission, AHA! has always strived to remain free of charge, and encourage partnering institutions to remain. In this time of fiscal uncertainty, AHA! welcomes new sponsors such as: Joseph Abboud, HallKeen Management, BayCoast Bank, and many other businesses who have shown a proven commitment to the continuation of arts and culture in the region.
Plans for the Future:
Co-Chair Tracy Furtado, also the Executive Director of Dream Out Loud, wrapped up last year’s successes, such as welcoming several new downtown businesses as Member/Partners of AHA! Those businesses are: UGLY Gallery at 246 Union Street, Paradise McFee Gallery at 106 Williams Street, MUSE at 516 Pleasant Street, 767 Exchange at 767 Purchase Street, For Veda Boutique at 763 Purchase Street, Braza Rotisserie at 566 Pleasant Street and Boutique Fitness at 496 Pleasant Street.
The existing Steering Committee, which includes Lee Blake and Lasse Antonsen of UMASS Dartmouth, Hank Mastey of the Local Cultural Council and Jill MacLean of the City of New Bedford, continues to seek out new opportunities to expand cultural awareness and opportunity for artists to perform in the Greater New Bedford region.
AHA! is also planning a fundraiser on August 11th, which will include a three hour sunset tour on the Cuttyhunk Ferry Company vessel, with a cruise around Padanaram Harbor. Ample hors d’oeuvres are included in the ticket price, with a cash bar. Limited tickets are available at for $25 each; to purchase, please call Lee Heald in the Community Foundation office at (508) 996-8253, extension 205.
About the AHA! Project
AHA! (Art-History-Architecture) was formed in July 1999 as a collaborative non-profit partnership to establish Downtown New Bedford as the regional hub for arts and culture. Drawing on the city’s diverse cultural resources, AHA! provides free monthly Second Thursday Night downtown celebrations, and pilots cultural economic development initiatives through private and public partnerships. The project operates with a volunteer Steering Committee and a wealth of in-kind programming provided its partner venues. AHA! is a nonprofit project of the Community Foundation of Southeastern, MA with offices at 63 Union Street, New Bedford. Find out more about AHA! at www.ahanewbedford.org. We welcome your involvement!