In the News

WHAV Haverhill News


November 11, 2015

Screening of "Ellis" starring Robert Deniro

Date: Friday, November 13, 2015
Times: 3:00PM - 7:00PM (15 minute film on loop), 5:00PM - 6:00PM Immigration Stories
Location: 90 Washington Street, Haverhill, MA
Contact: Jenny Arndt,
Phone: 978-641-3192

This past summer, the extremely successful "Inside Out Haverhill: Spirits and Souls" public art project, featuring the faces of 300 Haverhill residents on buildings around the Downtown caught the attention of the NY based Inside Out project and Tribeca Films. Now, the Inside out Haverhill organizers have been invited to host a free screening of a short art film entitled "Ellis." The film is set in the abandoned Ellis Island Immigrant Hospital, with portraits in artist JR's signature black-and-white style pasted to the walls, windows and doors.

Ellis Island's Immigrant Inspection Station, in Upper New York Bay, served as the gateway for many would-be Americans. "Ellis", a fourteen-minute film directed by JR, written by Academy Award winner Eric Roth, and starring Robert DeNiro, tells the elusive story of countless immigrants whose pursuit of a new life led them to the now-shuttered Ellis Island Immigrant Hospital. Following its opening in 1902, approximately 1.2 million people passed through the facility, where the Statue of Liberty can be seen from the windows.

This film and project are a fresh way to hear immigrant family stories and events that served to connect and strengthen our community then and now. "Ellis" screening organizers hope to gather people of all ages and cultural backgrounds to share their families' stories of immigration to Haverhill, MA. Guests are invited to participate by verbally sharing their family's immigration story, or by providing photographs and immigration records as part of an "immigration timeline" installation at the event. The "Ellis" screening is FREE, thanks to a generous sponsorship from Pentucket Bank, and will serve as a catalyst for conversation, cooperative spirit, and connection as Haverhill celebrates its 375th anniversary!

As artist JR stated, "The best part of the Ellis film and art exhibition is not maybe the artwork, but it's the fact that you go and you meet other people and you talk about it and what it creates'.

For more information on the "Ellis" screening on November 13th, or to sign up to speak, contact Creative Haverhill at 978-641-3192, or email

September 4, 2015


Haverhill, MA, September 4, 2015: On July 29th, the Massachusetts Legislature voted to restore a number of funding priorities to the FY16 State Budget which had been vetoed, including funding impacting the Reinvent Cogswell campaign. Senator Kathleen O’Connor Ives and Representative Linda Dean Campbell worked to secure $60,000 in the FY16 State Budget toward repairs to prevent additional deterioration to the historic building, Cogswell School, located at 351 S. Main Street in Haverhill, Massachusetts. When this item was vetoed, legislators then voted to restore funding for this and other important local priorities to the budget. Now, with $60,000 directed toward continuing the momentum of Reinvent Cogswell, progress can continue. Relatedly, both the MA [Massachusetts] House and Senate successfully voted to overturn Governor Charlie Baker’s arts veto, restoring $2.3 million to the Massachusetts Cultural Council. This vote brings the Massachusetts Cultural Council budget back to $14.16 million, the largest increase in state investment in the past 9 years.

“I believe in this project, heard from volunteers about the need for renovation funding, and was able to secure $60,000 to address building upgrades. The goal is for Haverhill residents to be able to enjoy a community arts center in an inspiring, historic structure, said State Senator Kathleen O’Connor Ives”

“The Reinvent Cogswell Team are so deserving of our gratitude from our entire community! Their vision and commitment are truly inspiring. This building will bring our community together in support of local art and will benefit the entire region.” Said State Representative Linda Dean Campbell.

In 1891, the George Cogswell School opened its doors to the community and served Haverhill for over 100 years. Reinvent Cogswell hopes to reopen these doors again as a center for community arts and cultural activity. We are one step closer to this reality.

Creative Haverhill and Reinvent Cogswell would like to extend our sincere thanks to State Senator Kathleen O’Connor Ives and State Representative Linda Dean Campbell, for their support in obtaining funding for the Cogswell School in the 2016 Massachusetts State Budget. We would also like to thank State Representative Brian Dempsey for his support of the Massachusetts Cultural Council, proud supporters of Creative Haverhill through the Adams Program. This project is fortunate to have their support.

Reinvent Cogswell, an initiative of Creative Haverhill secured a competitive lease with an option to purchase the building from the city earlier this year, however, the building cannot be occupied in its current state. Immediate repairs must be made to the building’s roof and systems. Water damage has caused breaks in the plaster ceilings, warped floors, and environmental concerns in the building’s basement level. Additionally, the building’s heating system is inoperable and must be addressed before the upcoming winter.

The funding received will begin to address issues that were assessed during the building feasibility study, funded in part by the Massachusetts Cultural Council last year. Working with local architect, Angelo Petrozzelli, who specializes in historic preservation and public spaces, Reinvent Cogswell hopes to restore and preserve the school. Future plans include a fully accessible building. The vision includes flexible gallery space, private and public studio spaces, as well as community space with a focus of creativity.

Reinvent Cogswell is seeking additional funding to complete added repairs and upgrades necessary to bring the building to code. “While it is hard to resist thinking about all of the programing possibilities, we continually remind ourselves that our focus must be on the building at this moment. We are incredibly grateful for the support of Senator O’Connor Ives and Representative Campbell as we continue this phase. Just one town away a similar school is being demolished after it fell into disrepair. Cogswell has no working heat. This coupled with a leaking roof and it isn’t hard to imagine a similar fate. We are committed to Reinventing Cogswell and happy to steward the process,” said Danielle Smida, Chairperson, Creative Haverhill.

“While the building may remain physically closed to the community at this time, such funding and significant support bolsters the project’s visibility as this dream for more arts and culture in Haverhill shifts into a reality,” beamed Jaime DeSimone, a volunteer spearheading the project with Smida, Tina Fuller, and Leota Spero-Sarette. “The road ahead may be long, but the building is the cornerstone of the project to foster opportunities and presentation of the arts. I long for the day the school will once again teem with residents.”

For more information visit:

About Creative Haverhill:

Creative Haverhill supports Haverhill arts and culture, providing experiences and access at the intersection of art, culture, and community and the development of high quality spaces as platforms for community and cultural expression. The non-profit aspires to broaden Haverhill's exposure to the arts and enrich community life, striving to create new and highlight existing cultural experiences, fostering creative expression throughout Haverhill, engaging new audiences and bringing cultural experiences to the Riverfront Cultural District.

About Massachusetts Cultural Council:

The Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) is a state agency that promotes excellence, access, education, and diversity in the arts, humanities, and interpretive sciences to improve the quality of life for all Massachusetts residents and contribute to the economic vitality of our communities. The Council pursues this mission through a combination of grant programs, partnerships, and services for nonprofit cultural organizations, schools, communities, and artists.