Jun 132017
 

Bridget Bishop and a few of her friends stop by the Salem Farmers’ Market

Is Bridget Bishop still relevant, over 300 years since her infamous witch trial? We would say so, considering that the interactive play, Cry Innocent, chronicling that trial is now celebrating its 25th anniversary of entertaining, educating, and engaging tourists & residents alike in Salem. To mark the event, an activity-filled weekend is planned for June 16-18 (what would an event be in Salem if it wasn’t a weekend festival?).

Kristina Wacome Stevick, President and Artistic Director, History Alive, Inc. which has produced the play since its inception, explains, “There are a lot of activities lined up to celebrate the anniversary, from stagecraft workshops and readings of new work, to a community vintage dance, to a night of Moth-style storytelling, to a big, fancy party. We wanted to celebrate the talents and current work of generations of performers, have a way to say thank you to the City of Salem and to Salem business and non-profits, to reminisce and help people know what we envision for the future.”

That “big, fancy party” she refers to involves a meal, specialty cocktails, awards, comedy, vision-casting, and live music & dancing at Ames Memorial Hall, Saturday, June 17th. Doors open at 6:30pm for cocktails and “mingling.” Dinner (by Chive Sustainable Catering) and entertainment at 7pm. Hosted by Erik Rodenhiser, the gla will feature stand-up by Will Martin, a docu-short by In The Car, storytelling awards presented by Mark Stevick, dance calling by Alex Edwards, and more.

For ticket information and the full schedule go to http://cryinnocentsalem.com/silverjubilee.

But, what has kept the play vibrant for 25 years? Let’s start with the introduction:

“The year is 1692. Bridget Bishop has been accused of witchcraft and YOU are on the Puritan jury. Hear the historical testimonies, cross-examine the witnesses and decide the verdict. Is Bridget Bishop capable of witchcraft? Play your part in history…”

And with those few words, the performers in the History Alive! troupe stepped out onto the streets of Salem to bring to life not only the trial but a living immersion into the mind set of people from the time period. Why did they say what they did? How could they think that way? Witches? Demons?

Wacome Stevick says, “I think History Alive’s–in particular Cry Innocent’s— longevity can, in part, be attributed to the variety involved. Because the audience takes on a role, every show is different. The actors also play multiple characters. This keeps a show that performs around 1,000 shows a year fresh for everybody. Also, we have wonderful people that are truly dedicated to learning as much and sharing as much as they can. They keep the show interesting for each other and themselves because they have a hunger to include new information.”

Speaking of information, we asked Kristina to share one of the most unusual elements of the play they have seen over the past 25 years.

“Meeting descendants of the accusers and the accused, who come to the show, hear the words their ancestors spoke and get to interact as a Puritan jury with the actors speaking those words and ideas is probably one of the most moving experiences of doing Cry Innocent,” she responded.

“Often descendants expect to be ashamed to admit that their ancestors brought testimony against Bridget Bishop– testimony that ultimately led to her execution. However, one of the main exercises of the show is to try to get into the heads of both the accused and the accusers in the time and the culture that THEY were living in. When that is done with the kind of open mindedness and humility that one should exercise when visiting any unfamiliar culture, descendants often walk away feeling more understanding and forgiving of their ancestors.

This doesn’t mean that executing accused witches wasn’t a horrible mistake, but that we come to the decision to send Bridget Bishop to trial (or not) with more empathy to all involved. Hopefully that understanding can lend some perspective to whatever our current concerns are. We’re always better entering a situation not assuming that we know everything about it and the people involved.”

Duration of Cry Innocent is 45 minutes. The outdoor arrest scene begins approximately 15 minutes prior. During the show, the audience may step into roles of Puritan jurors. Kids and adults alike question the accusers, examine property, read advice to the court and vote on the outcome.

For more information on Cry Innocent performances this season, check out the website.

(History Alive! after 23 years under Gordon College’s organizational umbrella became its own entity, History Alive, Inc., on August 1, 2014)

Jun 082017
 
 
Step right up to the greatest show on Earth! Well, at least the greatest one on the earth that Salem, MA stands on – as our annual Salem Farmers’ Market returns bigger and better at 3-7 pm in Derby Square, today and every Thursday through October 12. Now in our ninth year, we are continuously working to bring new ideas and added benefits to the market while presenting the quality and variety of vendors you have come to expect.
 
New this year, we have two tables that will feature a storefront business – including many of our favorite success stories, like Jodi Bee Bakes and Far From the Tree. Salem, as many of you know, is filled with a lot of great brick and mortar companies that produce local food. We wanted to make sure they got a little face time too! You’ll only see each of these businesses once a month, so make sure to check in and see what they’ve brought.
 
And speaking of face time, here are today’s vendors that you can meet face to face and talk to about their items for sale. 
 
Today’s List of Vendors for June 8 :
 
West River Creamery
Cauldron Fermented Foods
Salem Soapworks
Honey Pot Farms
Pour Man’s Coffee
1643 Meadery
All Fruit
Gibney Gardens
Eva’s Organic Butcher Shop
Maitland Mountain Farm
Fishwives Specialty Foods (aka Mandy’s Wicked Chowdah)
Long Hill Farm
When Pigs Fly
Shine Jewelry
Jodi Bee Bakes
Grant Family Farm
Grammy’s Bakery
A&J Lobsters
Clark Farm
Rowands Seafood
Heavens Harvest Farm
Valicenti Pasta
Bare Cheek Beauty
Wally’s Vegetables
 
Kicking off this year’s music series, is Salem’s own Julie Dougherty! Julie has been rocking the music scene for a long time now, and is a favorite here in the city. 
 
SalemFive is the sponsor for today’s Market, and we are incredibly thankful for their continued support.
 
Of course, this is all just the beginning of something much bigger – the Farmers’ Market will be on Derby Square every Thursday through October 12, with a different mix of vendors every week!  Follow along at http://salemfarmersmarket.org/ to stay in the loop on the latest.
 
May 292017
 

Art is good. Art is what you have at an arts fest. But the 9th annual Salem Arts Festival (to be held June 2-4th) is art and much, much more. This popular free family-friendly event will feature over 100 artists and performers, and includes a variety of art, music, dance, and theatre performances. Public activities include onsite art-making for all ages, local artisan vendors selling their creations, and a community-built public art installation.

One of the most anticipated events this year is “Tidal Shift,” a collaborative public art project led by artist and architect Claudia Paraschiv of Salem Public Space Project, featuring an installation of plastic bag jellyfish over Front Street. During the past few months, community groups and locals of all ages have created hundreds of jellyfish as part of an initiative to help educate the community about the negative impacts of plastic bag usage and the City of Salem’s upcoming plastic bag reduction. A brief celebration and presentation of the “Tidal Shift” project will be included in the Friday night reception at 6:35 p.m.

This year, the Salem Arts Festival also celebrates the second “Mural Slam” on Artists’ Row, organized by the City of Salem’s Public Art Commission and Public Art Planner Deborah Greel. Murals will be painted throughout the weekend by 10 selected artists and will be completed by the end of the festival.

In addition, the Festival marks the return of vendors to Artists’ Row, with both new and returning tenants for the 2017 season.

Festival Specifics

The Salem Arts Festival kicks off with an opening reception at Salem’s Old Town Hall on Friday, June 2nd at 6 p.m.  The free event allows visitors to enjoy beautiful art work while being entertained by renowned local and regional performers Lindsay Straw, Dingonek Street Band, and headliners Grupo Fantasia.

The Festival takes place at a variety of indoor and outdoor venues in downtown Salem. Primary locations include Old Town Hall, Derby Square, Front Street, and Artists’ Row.  A Juried Art Show will be held in Old Town Hall throughout the Festival, with an artisan street fair in the area around the building on Saturday and Sunday.  Live performances will take place on Derby Square, Artists’ Row, and Front Street.

The Salem Arts Festival is rain or shine event; in case of inclement weather, performances will be moved into Old Town Hall.  Full schedule and programs will be available on site during the Festival, as well as the Festival website (www.salemartsfestival.com).

“There’s been a tremendous amount of collaboration between so many local groups and individuals to continue to improve and expand the Festival every year.  I can’t wait to share the phenomenal energy and talent that will be on display this year,” says Kylie Sullivan, Executive Director of Salem Main Streets (SMS), the community non-profit organization coordinating the Festival.

The goal of the Salem Arts Festival is to promote all the arts in Salem and to provide the entire North Shore arts community with an opportunity to showcase their talents. The Festival is run in collaboration with Salem Main Streets by a team of dedicated volunteers, including media partner Creative Salem and representatives from the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem YMCA, Salem State University, The Phoenix School, Salem Food Tours, Salem Arts Association, and many more.

Speaking of dedicated volunteers, we are still looking for volunteers for the Salem Arts Festival!  If you would like to join our merry band during this year’s Festival, or if you’ve signed up for one slot but might be available for more, please sign up online at http://signup.com/go/lccZdGg. Even if you’re away the weekend of the Festival, we have some volunteer needs on the days leading up to the event!

May 172017
 

The Fleas are coming. The Fleas are coming. And that is a good thing for Salem as these are seven flea market dates that will take place in Derby Square & Artists’ Row this May-October!

You are invited to come on down to The Salem Flea and cruise the monthly markets which will feature vendors of vintage & up-cycled furniture & fashion. Walk among, touch, and ask questions about collectibles, antiques, architectural salvage; as well as jewelry, art, & handmade goods by local artisans.

That is what makes The Salem Flea so exciting and relevant. Local artisans will have the opportunity to “show their stuff” to you “their” local market of shoppers.

Consider it a win/win opportunity!

The current The Salem Flea vendor list (subject to change)

  • 8 By Design
  • 9 Wall Woodworking
  • Cruz Art Designs
  • The Chailfour Collection
  • The Cyprus Collection
  • Chick Art Works
  • Decades of Decor
  • Emma’s Wicked Attic
  • The Felt Fanatic
  • The House of Findings
  • Houseworking
  • The House of Champigny
  • Home Maker Collectibles
  • INplace
  • Little Shop of Karma
  • My Sweet Soap
  • Mayflower Vintage and Antiques
  • Moody Interiors
  • Nomad & Local
  • Notso Kitty
  • Prospect Hill Handmade
  • Restore Works
  • RM&Company
  • Salem Soapworks
  • We Have Issues

The Salem Flea is scheduled to take place, rain or shine, on May 20, June 17, July 15, Aug 19, Sept 16 in Derby Square with Halloween Markets in The Artists Row walkway October 14 and 28.

The Salem Flea is owned by RM & Company of Salem and produced in collaboration with the City of Salem

The market is free to attend and you can find more information at www.thesalemflea.com

May 112017
 

Street Sense is a semiregular column with Salem Main Streets’ executive director Kylie Sullivan, highlighting common sense lessons learned while supporting the delightfully uncommon community of downtown Salem, MA.

Photo Credit – Creative Salem

Last week, I had the honor of participating in Innonorth’s panel on marketing locally. As I began to consider the topic – specifically marketing LOCALLY – I realized I actually had a lot to say, because Main Streets and local marketing are both all about people and connections. So here are a few of my personal takes on what it means to market locally in a community like Salem.

* YOU ARE YOUR BRAND
Downtown Salem is made up of small businesses – many of them microbusinesses (<5 full-time equivalent staff). For a lot of us, this is one of the things we really love about Salem – we love shopping local, we love knowing the person behind the product, and we love that they know us. There’s nothing more special than going into a business and being welcomed by name by the owner. This means that your business is really about you, no matter how good your product is. The great thing about your personal brand is that it’s the cheapest and most effective form of marketing you can invest in! It also makes it easy to represent your business when you’re simply doing the things you already enjoy – joining a running club, attending community events, supporting another business’ opening. The downside is that there’s a lot more on the line. Brands are about trust. It can take years to build a strong brand, and seconds to ruin one – and when you add your personal brand to your business brand, the number of ways you can accidentally mess up are immediately amplified. So be aware of this in your daily life, at the grocery store, at the bar, on social media (that’s right, even your personal social media can impact your business – perhaps unfair, but true). It can be exhausting, but it’s incredibly important to keep this in mind.

*Be present.
The best way to make use of your personal brand is to be present in the daily life of the community. This could mean physically, online, or financially, but if you’re keeping to yourself in an engaged community like Salem, odds are that the locals are going to overlook you. Sponsor local festivals, come to networking events, maintain a social media presence, participate in downtown promotional efforts. Like any marketing plan, it takes a while to figure out what works best for you – both what’s easiest for you personally and what gets you the most traction – but you won’t know until you try.

*Be a positive advocate for the community.
The emphasis is on positive advocacy. Small-scale economic and community development only really work if most of us are pulling in the same direction, but community advocacy is also an important marketing tool.  Customers respond to local businesses that look beyond their own walls to support local causes, advocate for positive change within their industry, or collaborate with other local businesses.  Additional insider tip: being an active and positive advocate also makes it more likely that local entities (like Salem Main Streets, let’s say) will think of you first when they’re looking for a downtown business to promote or highlight.

*Don’t forget to talk about what you do!
A lot of local business owners work so hard to make sure that the community knows them as people that they forget to say what their business actually does – and are then hurt or surprised when a community member doesn’t choose their business the next time they need something. Now, I’m not saying that you should be spouting off your elevator speech at every social occasion, or shoving business cards at people who haven’t asked for one – this can actually be extremely off-putting. But keeping your eyes and ears open for opportunities, and not being afraid to talk about what you do and what you’re proud of can go a long way when working in a small community.

*Be genuine and believe in your product.
Transparency is incredibly important to any consumer, but especially to those who choose to shop locally. And maybe it’s a result of living in a historic community with a strong tourist economy, but I feel that Salemites are particularly sensitive to insincerity. The good news is that this makes it even easier to be true to your personal brand – the less distance that exists between your professional self and your personal self, the less difficult it is to make sure that your brand remains consistent over time.