Established in honor of Jack Shannahan, the former director of the Connecticut Historical Commission and State Historic Preservation Officer; and a founder and first Board Chair of CMSC, the Jack Shannahan Award for Public Service recognizes public and private sector individuals and organizations that exemplify a high standard of leadership with a deep commitment to the success of Connecticut’s Main Streets.
Many Connecticut Main Streets are anchored by arts organizations. From the performing arts theaters to museums and galleries to cinemas and public art, the arts draw residents and tourists to downtowns and village centers, bringing foot traffic to small businesses and restaurants and life to the streets. Liz Shapiro, as the Director of Connecticut’s Office of the Arts, recognizes this important symbiotic relationship and has created two important programs to further develop the connection between the arts and business – Connecticut Cultural Districts and the AIR Collaborative.
The Cultural District program, established in 2019, designates a specific area of a city or town that has a concentration of cultural facilities, activities and/ort assets that are within a walkable area and easy for visitors to recognize. The creation of the districts, which inevitably are on main streets and downtowns, offer an opportunity for cross-sector collaboration that benefits all stakeholders and a statewide platform to showcase these exciting destinations.
Similarly, the AIR Collaborative is an approach to economic and community development that brings the arts and business community together to collaborate on revitalization efforts. Bridging these two worlds also result in the kind of main street vibrancy that CMSC champions. By bringing both the Cultural District and the Air Collaborative to Connecticut, Liz has strengthened the ability of our main streets to bring people together and to shine.
Photo credit: New London Cultural District; Eat in the Street Scavenger Hunt, mural design by WORMO