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Miriam Plitt: The Art of Pawtucket

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

 

Providence may be the "Creative Capital," but Pawtucket draws its plenty of creative minds as well.

As the first executive director of the Pawtucket Arts Council, under former Mayor Dennis Lynch in the ‘70s, I’ve been witness to the evolution of the arts in our community, and watching some of our old thinking come full circle. Today, the arts are poised to drive economic development in the city, and Mayor Grebien’s newly formed Advisory Commission on the Arts and Culture, is working to showcase the arts in publicly owned spaces in the city. But it will be the catalyst that needs to come together between the arts community, the public and private sectors, and nonprofits that will determine its success. There are artists’ studios and multiuse development of our old mill buildings, and we hope these artists will not only locate here, but also participate in the community and in the opportunities open to them to use their creativity to drive the city forward.

There are many reasons to live and work in the city–it’s such a convenient location, especially for those who do their work in Boston and surrounding areas of Massachusetts. Its history is rich in a diversity of cultures. We have three local theatres, visual and commercial arts, Hope Artiste Village, the Jackie Walsh School of the Performing Arts (unique in RI), and the Slater Mill. We have the new bridge welcoming people into our city, and the Riverfront development can play a major thrust in moving Pawtucket forward. Of course, we have the Pawtucket Red Sox, too!

The Riverfront is one way the city can be improved. It can literally be a centerpiece for the city, but it has had stops and starts and needs to coordinate better to move ahead with some exciting plans. While I believe in studies and doing your research, at some point you need to move on to implementation. As Vice Chair of the Riverfront Commission, I’m making it known that it’s time to do something substantial on this project, and not lose our momentum.

With two blue-collar communities so close to each other, Pawtucket and Central Falls, and both with huge challenges, especially with the economic crisis, we’re seeing partnerships forming around education, nonviolence programs, mental health, domestic violence, schools, and more. And that’s a positive thing for both cities.

I certainly recognize the challenges but also the opportunities for Pawtucket to grow. When my husband Arthur and I came to RI, over 30 years ago, we chose to live here. We did our homework, we looked at the state, and we decided that this was where we wanted to raise our two sons, who went to public schools, and we’ve remained deeply involved in the community. My husband heads the Neighborhood Watch Association and is involved in environmental, health, and conservation issues in the city, too. Maybe in some larger or more developed cities and towns, being an agent of change might not be as welcoming as we’ve always found it to be in Pawtucket–and statistics don’t always tell the whole story. Only by living here, raising a family here, having a business here–and becoming involved in what you like and helping to change what you don’t–can cities grow and prosper today. That’s been my philosophy for, literally, a lifetime living here in “Pawtucket: The Creative Community”.

Miriam R. Plitt, is a Pawtucket resident, and is a community advocate involved at both the state and local level, primarily in the fields of health and the arts. Plitt is a business development consultant with over 25 years experience in marketing in the financial field, and has also served as Chair of the board of the American Heart Association, locally, and in 2012 received their Heart of the Mission Award. She is Vice-Chair of the Pawtucket Riverfront Commission, and co-chair of the Partnership to Reduce Cancer in RI, and has served on the Wellness Committee of the Pawtucket School Committee. She was an original member of the State of RI’s first Conflict of Interest (Ethics) Commission. She and her husband have two sons, and six grandchildren (including two sets of twins).

 

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