12/28/18 EOY Letter

A Letter From Our Executive Director

2018 was a transformational year for the Narrows Center for the Arts. We went from renting the third floor of a mill building to becoming mill owners. The plan was to expand our operations, to improve our programming, and to create a permanent home for the arts on the Fall River waterfront. Fast forward twelve months and here’s what we have accomplished to date. 

We improved and expanded our performance center. With the generous assistance from Sunrise Erectors, Malatos Iron Works, and Architect Jo Ann Bentley, we removed four support columns which opened up the space resulting in enhanced sightlines. This expanded seating allowed us to bring in a cadre of artists we couldn’t have hosted in our old capacity – Blue Oyster Cult, Cowboy Junkies, Martin Sexton, Patty Griffin, Justin Heywood, and Nils Lofgren to name a few. It also allowed more people to come to the shows that were selling out at 280 – Peter Wolf, Bruce Cockburn, Rhiannon Giddens, etc. 

We moved our art studios to the 2nd floor and increased the number of studios from 5 to 12. We’ve planted the seeds for a robust Narrows Art Community that will eventually encompass the entire second floor.

We are happy to announce that Troy City Brewery has just opened on our first floor. They have a great space with a cool vibe and some really great beer. TCB is a great addition to our building. The owners hold similar values of producing a great product and giving back to the community.

In addition to these renovations and improvements, over 35,000 people attended a Narrows event where they danced, listened, laughed, and gained a greater appreciation of the arts. With 127 concerts, 10 art shows, and numerous community events, the Narrows’ commitment to make the arts accessible to all remains steadfast. A recent Boston Globe article had this to say about us: “The Narrows Center for the Arts is one of the best repurposings of one of the sprawling mills that for decades made Fall River hum. With high ceilings, towering windows that offer spectacular views of Battleship Cove and glorious sunsets, and great acoustics, The Narrows since 1995 has been a premiere destination for live music in the region.”

While we are widely known for our concert series, we believe that educating our youth in all forms of the arts is vital. Arts and music classes in our public schools have been greatly diminished or eliminated and the Narrows Center is here to fill that critical void.

I am pleased to, once again, tell you about the great programming, events, and community engagement that happened at the Narrows in 2018.

    • We are very proud of our Music and Art classes for the consumers of People, Incorporated. The classes began in 2014 and we now offer daily interactive and creative instruction. In conjunction with those classes, we have hosted several music recitals and visual art exhibitions annually, showcasing the great work of the People, Incorporated consumers. The instructors, Mark T. Small, Mark Cutler, Vania Noverca Viveiros, and Tony Henriques, have been remarkable and they are literally transforming lives on a daily basis.
    • In September, we hosted our 16th Annual Narrows Festival of the Arts. Once again, hundreds of people of all ages enjoyed high quality visual and performing arts for free.
    • We presented the outstanding artwork of Durfee High School and U Mass Dartmouth students in two gallery exhibitions. Walk a Mile, inspired by the Quechechan River Trail History Walk, featured papier-mâché shoe sculptures by Durfee art students that allowed viewers to “Walk a Mile” in the lives of Fall River mill workers. The installation also included student-written scripts imagining the words of these mill workers, expressing their thoughts, tribulations and aspirations, bringing to life the individuals inside the shoes. Patterns of Identity presented the textile work of U Mass students who used woven cloth as a metaphor to explore concepts of ethnicity, family, religious symbols, and political crests.
    • We made available discounted concert ticket pricing to music students and non-profit organizations.
    • We hosted concerts with the School of Rock students, providing an opportunity for budding musicians and vocalists to perform onstage in front of a live audience.
    • We partnered with the Westport River Watershed Alliance to present Jonathan Edwards and Pousette Dart Band at the Westport Rivers Vineyard. The event raised over $20,000 for the Westport River Watershed Alliance whose mission is: To protect the environmental integrity of the Westport River watershed and its coastal environs of Buzzards Bay; To advocate the wise use and preservation of natural resources for the aesthetic, recreational, and economic benefit of area citizens; To educate the general public about the interrelationship of our waters, soils, plants, animals, and people.
    • We partnered with People, Incorporated to host the 6th Annual Block-a-Palooza. This event brought hundreds of people to the city and created a vibrancy and fun atmosphere to the downtown area.
    • We, once again, held fundraisers for the Durfee After Prom Committee, the Michael Troy Memorial Music Foundation, and hosted the Angie Dolan Memorial Foundation Fundraiser. Each event raised over $10,000 for their respective charities.

Engaging and educating the community and presenting world-class visual and performing arts is what we do at the Narrows Center for the Arts on a daily basis. We are proud of what we accomplished in 2018 and look forward to exciting challenges in the new year. The Narrows is a true community resource. The visual and performing arts need to be accessible to all; they are essential to expanding our mind and nurturing our soul. The building purchase has made the Narrows a stronger organization to deliver our arts-based mission well into the future.

As we close the year, we also close our Capital Campaign fundraiser and thank you all for your generous support. The Capital Campaign monies were targeted to help with the costs of purchasing the building and the beginning restoration costs in increasing seating capacity and implementing our second floor arts community. We now continue to move forward with restorations in making the entire building alive with arts-related activity. A special thanks to the Mass Cultural Council for their generous Cultural Facilities Grant and to our longstanding and great friend who gave us an incredible $250,000 match opportunity which brought us close to our campaign goal. 

On behalf of the Board of Directors, Deb, Meaghan, and our great team of Volunteers, I thank you so much for your friendship, support, and patronage. We, once again, invite you to join us as visionaries of the Narrows. We look forward to serving you for many years to come.


Patrick Norton
Executive Director
Narrows Center for the Arts