AHA! (Art, History & Architecture) is New Bedford’s free Downtown Cultural Night and collaborative cultural organization with over 60 downtown venue partners.
The AHA! Mission
To be a cooperative venture dedicated to invigorating the downtown New Bedford cultural scene using the power of the arts and cultural enterprise, creativity and collaboration to forge a new economy.
The project accomplishes this through:
- Presenting 2nd Thursday FREE cultural nights and seasonal events
- Creating a platform for local and regional artists, cultural groups and educators to present
- Spearheading cooperative marketing initiatives
- Convening forums for shared concerns with regional artists, businesses and stakeholders
- Being a key partner in the city’s creative economy initiatives
Values statement: AHA! seeks to inspire a diverse and cooperative environment which is collegial, fair as well as creative.
AHA! started in July 1999 and its monthly 2nd Thursday events have taken place continuously from this date forward. Beginning with a 2001 “Painting the Future” charrette, AHA! has made efforts to convene cultural organizations in order to promote the collective growth of the city’s cultural sector. In 2005 and 2006 AHA! received Mass Cultural Council Adams Grants to pursue cultural planning initiatives and pilot new programs. Out of this work the project has begun the following:
– Summer Saturdays in the City
– Summer 7C’s Movie Series promotion to boost downtown Thursday Night visitation weekly
– An annual city-wide Open Studios www.newbedfordopenstudios.org
– Wings Court programming and stakeholder dialogue
– Hip History NB: Bringing History Alive for New Bedford Middle Schoolers
– #howiseeNB: An Instagram Exhibit of New Bedford featuring the work of local photographers
The project’s flagship cultural nights are held on the second Thursday of each month from 5:00 – 9:00 PM and involve over 60 downtown museums, galleries, arts organizations, merchants, restaurants, The New Bedford Whaling Museum, The UMD CVPA Star Store and the New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park. Each month’s event is themed so that distinctive cultural programs are presented and creative partner involvement remains robust. Nights such as “Changing Facade”, “On Stage”, “Summer Sounds” and “Kids Rule” consistently draw upwards of 2,000 visitors from the city, surrounding towns, Providence and Cape Cod. These events present opportunities for performers, artists and humanitarians of all disciplines and levels to engage the public. On a typical AHA! Night several art exhibits open, multiple live music is presented, theater skits or a lecture take place and interactive family and adult cultural experiences abound. This night is known as one of the best times to experience New Bedford’s cultural renaissance in its historic cobblestoned downtown.
Two weeks before each AHA! Night, a detailed listed of the program is available on this calendar page. AHA! would not be a success without the community of New Bedford and surrounding towns and always invites individuals to be in touch and get involved. Please visit our contacts page to see how.
The AHA! collaborative project is funded in part by The City of New Bedford, The Mass Cultural Council, The Island Foundation, The Bank of America Foundation, local business community sponsorship, individual donors and partner venue dues. AHA! is a 501c3 project of The SouthCoast Community Foundation. The project is run by a 3/4 time Program Director and several part-time staff. Partner venues direct the project through the AHA! Steering Committee and all-partner Programming Committee. Partnership in AHA! is structured around the geography and programming needs of the downtown monthly AHA! Night. Cultural organizations outside of the city’s downtown are invited to participate and be a guest venue by contacting AHA! staff and proposing their ideas.