BERLIN — While Berlin has always strived to portray itself as a shopping destination on the Eastern Shore, town and community officials have been turning their attention in recent weeks to highlighting entertainment, dinning, and the arts in town.
“I think we’re just going to start to partner more with the chamber,” said Economic and Community Development Director Michael Day. “We’re going to promote [the arts] more … just as we’re going to start to promote [Berlin] as a dining destination.”
Berlin has had a strong and eclectic artist community for several years which has featured everything from painters to blacksmiths to laser engravers. But Day admitted that though the town has always endorsed its artists, not all visitors are aware of the depth of local art. He called the efforts that the town and Chamber of Commerce are planning on implementing “the strengthening of a push” that will include an advertising focus on art, as well as updates to current art-centric events and the addition of new ones.
“Maybe we’ll run more ads saying that Berlin is an Arts and Entertainment District,” said Day.
As far as promotion goes, Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Aaren Collins agreed with Day that the best thing the town can do is make people aware that the artists are around and then let visitors see for themselves the quality of work being produced.
“We’re trying to grab a hold of it … to make sure that they’re exposed,” she said.
Collins mentioned some possible additions to Berlin’s popular 2nd Friday Art Strolls.
“We’re going to try to theme them all,” she said.
For the art strolls that don’t land on Fridays with other town events, Day added that the town will be looking for ways to help them stand-out as solo events.
“We’re honing in on 2nd Fridays that don’t have events attached to them,” he said.
Other events that won’t occur as often as the monthly art strolls are also in the works.
“We’ve talked about an arts and crafts show,” said Day. “That’s on the to-do list.”
The chamber has organized a day showcasing “traditional” craft work, like blacksmithing and basket weaving, among many others, said Collins. The event will take place Saturday, Dec. 8, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. all around town.
According to Collins, the town’s new promotional efforts regarding artists have gone hand-in-hand with an unprompted rise in public attention.
“We’ve had a lot of interest lately in the artists,” she said.
The chamber does everything that it can to encourage this interest, asserted Collins, and within the chamber building there are six artist workstations available for rent. Currently, three of the stations are occupied and a fourth is being used for an alternative purpose. The rent on the stations is $250 per month plus utilities for a one-year contract, or a two-month lease at $600 total, utilities included. While the town tends to handle most paid advertising, Collins explained that the chamber will usually go more grassroots to get the word out.
“The Berlin Chamber of Commerce has a ton of social media,” she said.
Similar to the push to increase artists’ visibility in town, Berlin seeks to build a reputation as a dining destination as well as a shopping one, said Day. This will likely follow the same route as promoting the arts, with the town, chamber and local businesses working to bring dining in Berlin into the spotlight. The last few months have seen the addition of two new full-service restaurants downtown as well as a new deli. They join several established eateries, bakeries and delicacy shops already in Berlin, with a new tavern expected to open next year.