Senator Mark Montigny surprised AHA! New Bedford director Lee Heald on Friday with an official Senate citation.

The citation was to honor Heald for her instrumental role in securing New Bedford's position as the "Most Creative Community" from the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

Earlier this year Senator Montigny, who has long championed downtown arts and culture through Senate appropriations, worked closely with Heald to ensure the new Arts, Culture and Tourism Promotion Fund reflected the needs and vision of the thriving non-profit arts community. Senator Montigny introduced the home rule petition in the Senate, which was later signed into law by Governor Charlie Baker on January 11 of this year.

“We are blessed to have a downtown so close to the beautiful Buzzards Bay and filled with inspiring artists and musicians,” Sen Montigny said in a release. “Working alongside the non-profit sector, especially with Lee, has produced enormous dividends resulting in the thriving downtown renaissance we see today. What started off as our long-term vision over 15 years ago to turn an old department store into a thriving college arts campus which could then help support new shops, galleries and restaurants has transformed our way of life and made New Bedford a key destination.”

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