'This is Fitchburg' campaign starts with colorful downtown windows
By Elizabeth Dobbins, firstname.lastname@example.org
UPDATED: 11/29/2016 11:49:53 AM EST
FITCHBURG -- For ReImagine North of Main, "This is Fitchburg" isn't a question. It's a statement.
About 40 window decals featuring images of the city's attractions and advertising the new website, www.thisisfitchburg.com, now decorate the exterior of three empty storefronts on Main Street.
Tom Skwierawski, project coordinator of ReImagine North of Main, said the colorful designs, which were installed Saturday, are meant to promote the opportunities Fitchburg has to offer by showing images of Fitchburg State University athletics, the annual blacksmith competition, Hollis Hills Farm and other attractions.
"When we're giving folks from out of town a tour of the area, we take them to Coggshall Park or we take them to the Fay Club, something that they didn't expect," he said. "There's always this question, 'This is Fitchburg?,' and we turned it into, instead of a question, more of a statement. Yeah, this is Fitchburg."
The installation also advertises the new "This is Fitchburg" website, where visitors can find more information about the city and ReImagine North of Main -- a collaboration between different local institutions including the city, FSU, NewVue Communities and Montachusett Opportunity Council, the goal of which is to promote development of the North of Main neighborhood.
ReImagine North of Main funded the project and hired local graphic designers from Sitka Creations, Geralyn Miller Design and PoscoCreative.
Tamar Russell Brown, of Sitka Creations and owner of the Gallery Sitka, said the project has the added benefit of making the downtown look more welcoming.
"Because of the buildings, it's a little depressing when you come here for the first time," she said. "It looks much warmer."
Julianne Posco of PoscoCreative said the bright colors are meant to add vibrancy to Main Street.
"We're just trying to draw a positive energy, a positive vibe to the city, and make people more interested in wanting to come downtown," she said, adding that the group wants to "highlight the positive things about the city, because there is a lot to highlight."
Tricia Pistone, project director of ReImagine North of Main, said the project came together over the summer after Mayor Stephen DiNatale asked what could be done to improve the appearance of the vacant windows.
"The mayor had come to us and said, 'We need to do something in the windows,'" she said.
Though the mayor suggested the project, ReImagine North of Main funded the work, and no taxpayer money was used for the roughly $6,500 design commission, she said.
Russell Brown said the group weighed several options for improving the windows, including displaying art from local students, which would not have been cohesive enough, she said.
ReImagine North of Main also considered placing works of art inside the bays, which was dismissed because it could have damaged the art due to exposure to the cold and sunlight.
She said using historic images of Fitchburg was also overruled, because the group decided "it would be much better to show what's going on now."
The decals are currently in the windows of the building at the intersections of Main and Blossom, Prichard and Oliver streets.
Pistone said ReImagine North of Main plans to add more and eventually feature more than 50 designs in downtown windows after community-made holiday window displays have been taken down.
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