New Bedford, MA — The wild, improbable, magical ride that is “Your New Bedford” celebrates its finale on Thursday, November 12, 2020.
“Your New Bedford” is the series of pop-up 3rd EyE Unlimited events that launched last April in the city. It was the recipient of the first-ever “Art is Everywhere” grant, $50,000 awarded by New Bedford Creative on behalf of MassDevelopment and the Barr Foundation.
Five “Your New Bedford” virtual events have entered the digital history books. The sixth and final pop-up as part of the grant will take place during AHA! New Bedford’s cultural celebration on November 12.
No one could have predicted what 2020 would bring as the “Art is Everywhere” grant applications were evaluated back in March of 2020. Projects were discussed and scored virtually as Massachusetts went into shutdown and the arts community adjusted itself to a different reality.
But, one thing remained the same. The overwhelming consensus was that whatever the year ahead would bring, the project envisioned in 3rd EyE Unlimited’s “Your New Bedford” could adapt due to its fundamental creativity and foundation in the community. And, that it would be the best pilot program to accelerate arts-based economic development in the city by fulfilling its core mission.
That was expressed as follows: “Your New Bedford” deepens connections between neighborhoods and downtown, builds partnerships between cultural organizations and community groups, and strengthens the creative economy and arts ecosystem.”
Now, 3rd EyE Unlimited had to do it virtually. They did that from April forward with special online pop-up events streamed over Facebook live. Then, they reimagined the series for the new format and went about organizing six “Your New Bedford” nights with various neighborhood partners, such as Youth Opportunities Unlimited in the south end and the Community Economic Development Center in the north end. All in all, 3rd EyE Unlimited partnered with over 30 community groups and organizations throughout the city.
Each was hosted by the gifted Project Director, Peter Lonelle Walker. He embodied the goals of the programming by making the connections between these and many other groups, organizations, small businesses and individual creative residents for the online audience. Each “Your New Bedford” became an opportunity to discover, learn and inspire under his navigation.
In between the “Your New Bedford” evenings, 3rd EyE Unlimited programmed other online pop-up events celebrating community, with V3E Pride, the Pillars of Hip-Hop, and even managed to mount a pandemic-safe, scaled down version of its annual “3rd EyE Open” hip hop festival this past summer.
Even as the team adapted to Covid-19, the entire nation soon began grappling with the complex and disturbing awareness that it needed to do much, much more to further racial equality in society. If ever there was an organization so perfectly poised to help meet that challenge, it was 3rd EyE Unlimited.
Rap-ready and Hip Hop-tinged, for over 20 years 3rd EyE Unlimited had helped break new ground and old barriers in New Bedford.
“During the 20-plus years of 3rd EyE’s existence, we have witnessed and lived through many changes in our city and the diverse communities that comprise it,” said 3rd EyE Unlimited President Keri Cox when the grant award was announced. “Our mission since our founding has been to shed light on the vibrant cultural expressions that often go unrecognized, and particularly those of young people who will play a key role in reshaping and reimagining the New Bedford of the future.”
With “Your New Bedford” the organization reached a new pinnacle of purpose in a moment of reckoning and promise. While much of 2020 was fraught, the decision to award the first-ever “Art is Everywhere” grant to the project not only proved exciting, but prescient.
Join them as they continue to make history in the city with the sixth and final edition of “Your New Bedford” on Thursday, Nov. 12. It will take place as part of AHA! New Bedford’s “Made in NB” day of virtual and “in real life” programming. The event will feature music and spoken word performances, the Dance Jam, live painting, community conversations (and some other surprises!), live from the stage of the Zeiterion Performing Arts Center as well as some other popup locations around New Bedford.
Featured photo: Mos D3f Crew members (Shanai Nadia, Jet Way, and TFlow) perform live from Your New Bedford headquarters in downtown New Bedford.