The Historic Fairhaven Association (HFA) helps promote the Village, while preserving its historic character. Its unique local partnerships contribute to its vibrancy, including those with Allied Arts, Skookum Kids, Whatcom County Bellingham Tourism, and Bellingham TheatreWorks.

“I love partnering with these groups. Each of represents a facet of life in Fairhaven, from caring for each other, celebrating our creativity and welcoming visitors. We can achieve so much more when we work together,” said HFA Executive Director Scott Ward.

Promoting the Arts

Allied Arts

For 40 years, Allied Arts of Whatcom County has fostered and supported the local arts scene, serving more than 50,000 people annually. The HFA and Allied Arts work together “on a number of levels” to promote the arts, said Kelly Hart, Executive Director of Allied Arts.

This includes promoting art-supporting businesses in Allied’s Whatcom Arts and Culture Guide, assisting with the state application for designated Creative Districts, and the Whatcom Cultural Arts Festival, February 28-29, a weekend-long celebration of the arts, starting with Fourth Friday Arts Walk in Historic Fairhaven and at the Bellingham Cruise Terminal.

“The HFA understands the importance of the arts as a tourism draw, quality of life and economic asset. Their diverse programs all include arts and cultural components from performances and arts booths during the Fairhaven Festival to caroling competitions during Fairhaven WinterFest,” Hart said.

Bellingham TheatreWorks

Last summer, Bellingham TheatreWorks’ new program, Fairhaven Summer Repertory Theatre, drew more than 1,800 patrons. Its multiple sold-out shows far exceeded their first-year expectations, said Steve Lyons, producing director and playwright who with Mark Kuntz, formerly of Mount Baker Theatre, formed Bellingham TheatreWorks in 2014.    

Bellingham TheatreWorks partnered with the Firehouse Arts and Events Center and HFA in promoting its first annual Fairhaven Summer Repertory Theatre, which received over $10,000 in sponsorships and grants, much of that from Fairhaven businesses.  

 “With the help of the HFA, we intend to repeat that success in the coming summer,” Lyons said.

Bellingham TheatreWorks emphasizes regional playwrights telling stories of significance to the Pacific Northwest. In Summer 2020, they will produce three plays six nights a week for four weeks. The theme is “What does it mean to be a citizen?”

Caring for Each Other

Bellingham’s Skookum Kids offers innovative and commonsense approaches to caring for foster children, including a wide range of volunteer opportunities so everyone can help.

Fairhaven has been home to Skookum Kids’ flagship program since its inception in 2015, so a HFA partnership is natural, said its CEO, Ray Deck III. 

“This community is our home, that means investing in every aspect of its health. We’re most directly involved in caring for children, but it’s much more fun to do that in a place that knows how to party! Support like this makes it possible for us to be available anytime we are needed to care for children entering foster care. It’s critical,” Deck said.

Welcoming Visitors

Because Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism works to bring visitors to town, and the HFA focuses on marketing to locals, theirs was a natural partnership, said Annette Bagley, Tourism’s Director of Marketing.

“Our partnership has grown and helped us understand our visitors, how we can help them together and grow together,” Bagley said. “It’s a good model, one I’m able to show we’ve had a lot of success with.”  

An extension of that is the visitor kiosk in Village Books, new this year, which several HFA members volunteered to staff. This offered visitors direct service, and Tourism and the businesses got more direct interaction to learn what questions tourists ask, where they’re coming from and what they are looking for.

Local merchants have found great success in HFA and Tourism’s annual cooperative marketing targeting Seattleites. Winterfest has taken that further, with amazing growth in its first years, Bagley said.

Courtesy of Southside Living | Written by Lauren Phillips

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