FALL RIVER — Devon Torres has an eye for art.
And now, the Fall River native is using her arts background to further arts and culture in the city as the coordinator for the Fall River Arts and Culture Coalition.
Launched in 2019, the FRACC is a committee of the Bristol County Chamber of Commerce that encompasses area businesses, arts innovators and advocates to bolster arts, culture and economic prosperity within the city.
After graduating from B.M.C. Durfee High School, Torres continued her studies at Bristol Community College where she graduated with an associate degree in liberal arts. Torres decided to pursue art full time so she headed to Savannah College of Art and Design where she earned her bachelor’s degree majoring in film and television with a minor in dramatic writing.
After college, Torres transferred her skills as an artist interning in Boston in youth development and youth programming.
In her new position, Torres said she is serving three roles: liaison for the FRACC, coordinator for the execution of the citywide culture plan that’s being developed by the consulting firm Civic Moxie and as a contact for the arts and culture community at large. “So if someone expresses interest in getting involved or they want to start a project my job is to pull their ideas together and create something that can serve multiple people and the city of Fall River,” she said.
A winter place-making project that’s under way in Gromada Plaza across from Government Center is one of the projects Torres is working on with the FRACC and the other groups such as the Fall River Transformative Development Initiative. “We’re really focusing on creating on a space that’s warm in the city,” said Torres.
Designed to fit within COVID-19 restrictions, Torres said the winter place-making space (that has not yet been given a finalized named) will not be event driven, but the public can expect to find firepits and seating sections. Evergreen trees have already been installed in the space. “So within the COVID restrictions, people can find a place to sit with their masks on and gather some warmth,” she said.
She said the group working on the project would eventually like to include some type of programming at the site that would meet with COVID-19 restrictions.
As a city native who has worked with youth in other communities, Torres said the position appealed to her because she saw it as a way to make an impact in her own hometown. “As a member of the community I have more insight into the things we’re developing and I have an idea around the sentiment of Fall River,” she said.
While the city has various arts organizations and events, Torres said they haven’t always had wide appeal to people in her generation. She added said her peers go off to college but they don’t always come back here to live and work. “A lot of us find a community that already has the things we’re looking for established. It’s really exciting to be on the ground floor of establishing an arts space in the Fall River community that’s for everybody — crossing those ages and demographics.”
On her personal wish list is seeing the city develop a strong arts community with artist representation within that community, including artists in the city’s schools. “We should be recognizing them now and encouraging them,” she said.
Additionally, Torres said she would like to see more events in public spaces throughout the city to engage more of the community. “I feel like arts and culture can get segregated from other things that are happening in the city and in reality we all want to make Fall River a better place,” she said. “That cross-pollination across different community partnerships and neighborhoods would great. It would be great to see it popping in different neighborhoods, not just downtown.”