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People standing around a cozy livingroom area while children play.

May 1st – June 30th 2022
Old Town Hall, 32 Derby Square, Salem, MA

We opened CultureHouse Salem as a three-month-long pop-up arts and culture community space in the spring of 2022. In partnership with the City of Salem, we transformed Salem’s historic Old Town Hall building into a vibrant, connected, and accessible destination that supported local creatives. The pop-up was successful in creating an engaging arts and culture space and bringing to light important community conversations and concerns.

A woman with a totebag stands in front of an event calendar listing activities at CultureHouse Salem outside of the Old Town Hall.

What happened

In the three months that CultureHouse Salem was open, so were the doors to Old Town Hall—a building that had been mostly closed off to the public in recent years. Visitors enjoyed being able to walk into the building and experience the history, architecture, community, and arts and culture that Salem has to offer. People regularly came in to see what new experience we would have in store for them that week. Whether you were playing arcade games, interacting with installations, participating in art workshops, enjoying music performances, learning about the history of Salem, or sitting and putting a puzzle together, there was never a dull moment at Old Town Hall! 

By the numbers
10,472 – total visitors
201 – average number of visitors per day
7pm-8pm – busiest time of the day
10 mins – average length of stay of visitors
Eventos
51 – total number of events hosted
54% – Salem-based artists/creatives/organizations
75% – made new connections
Vintage market – most popular event
A man and child sit in a living room area playing a game.
A woman stands looking at framed artworks in the Old Town Hall
People walk around the Old Town Hall looking at vintage clothing items.
People sit around a table hand crafting with beads.
People stand around watching while people dance.
Two children and an adult stand and play vintage video games
People sitting while a group of four play music on the stage.
Three people stand around a sand table building up topographic forms.

Impacts

Creating a welcoming and accessible community space

CultureHouse Salem made Old Town Hall more than just an arts and culture space. The open doors, calendar, and signage created consistency and transparency for visitors and increased accessibility by 26%. 

Developing intentional partnerships through new channels of communication

During the pop-up process, engagement became a critical way to create and strengthen relationships with the Salem community. We were very intentional about letting people know what was happening at Old Town Hall during the pop-up, adapting to feedback and concerns, and communicating with the Salem community using a diverse set of tools. 

Activating Old Town Hall with diverse programming that represents and celebrates the Salem community

We made strategic decisions at CultureHouse Salem to ensure that all felt included and represented in the space and the decision-making process. The programming at Old Town Hall valued cultural representation and activities for diverse age groups. 

Video credit: Essex County Community Foundation and Queer Videography

Impact Report

Over the three months that we were open, and for five months before, we listened and learned from many members of the Salem community.  We have compiled our conversations, observations, and analysis into an impact report that dives into the work we did, the lessons we learned over the course of the pop-up, and a suggested path forward to turn Old Town Hall into a permanent art and culture space.

Community meetings

On November 17th, 2022 we held a community meeting to share the impacts from the report and get feedback from the Salem community. The City of Salem joined and shared details on next steps based on action items from the impact report and the status of the Old Town Hall restoration and renovation project. View the meeting recording at the link below.

El 17 de febrero de 2022, tuvimos una reunión comunitaria para el proyecto CultureHouse Salem. Durante esta reunión, compartimos actualizaciones sobre el proyecto y recopilamos aportes de la comunidad al iniciar la fase de diseño del proyecto. Vea la grabación de la reunión en el siguiente enlace.

Grupo asesor

We worked closely with the CultureHouse Salem Advisory Group, a team of local artists, residents, and activists, to bring CultureHouse Salem to life. They advised us on everything and worked to ensure that we met the needs of the Salem community.

John Andrews

Owner, Creative Collective

Catherine Bertrand

Public Arts Commission

Carly Dwyer Nik

Art Director, Intramersive

Karen Gahagan

Director of Center for Creative and Performing Arts, Salem State University

Monieke McNeil

Salem Resident, Member of Salem United Inc

Linda Mullen

Owner, Grace & Diggs Designs

Jelivet Perez

Civic Engagement, Peabody Essex Museum

Linda Ross Girard

Associate Chair, Senior Lecturer, and Costume Designer, Tufts University

Kristina Stevick

Artistic Director, History Alive

Kylie Sullivan

Director, Salem Mainstreets

Doreen Wade

President, Salem United

Patricia Zaido

Co-Chair, Salem for All Ages Initiative

Where is it now?

The City of Salem is working to procure grants to fund the renovation of Old Town Hall. The learnings from the CultureHouse Salem pop-up will inform the design changes and the future programming and operational model for the renovated structure. Learn more about Old Town Hall aquí.

Socios

Barr Foundation logoEastern Bank logoEssex County Community Foundation logoCity of Salem logosalem_cultural_council_logo