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PRESS RELEASE- State Cultural Facilities Fund Supports Local Attractions: $2.54 million awarded to western Massachusetts tourism hot-spots
September 12, 2007

Pittsfield- The Berkshire County legislative delegation proudly announces that Massachusetts’ new Cultural Facilities Fund (CFF), co-administered by MassDevelopment and the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) has awarded $2.54 million in grant assistance to cultural facilities in Berkshire and Franklin Counties.  This infusion of financial assistance provides the means to support 10 important capital projects and two feasibility and technical assistance projects.


“Investing in our region’s cultural infrastructure not only fuels the creative economy, but also improves our venues and enriches the cultural experiences unique to our region,” remarked State Senator Benjamin B. Downing (D-Pittsfield).  “I am extremely pleased with MassDevelopment and the Massachusetts Cultural Council for providing so many hallmark institutions with this critical funding.”


A total of $16.7 million in CFF grants will be disbursed statewide to support non-profit cultural organizations with building projects that increase tourism, create new jobs, leverage private funding and expand arts and cultural activities in communities across the state this fiscal year. 


State Representative Daniel E. Bosley (D- North Adams) stated “The Cultural Facilities Fund is a powerful investment in infrastructure for tourism all across the state.  From the Berkshires to the Cape and everywhere in between, this ongoing investment will fuel jobs, enhance tourism, and strengthen our communities.”


State Representative William “Smitty” Pignatelli (D-Lenox) spoke about these awards, saying “This is extremely exciting! As a strong advocate of the Cultural Facilities Fund, I view this as a strong economic development tool.  The Berkshires fared very well and I would argue with anyone that the cultural economy is the economic engine of Berkshire County.”


Recipients in seven Berkshire communities range from small neighborhood-based cultural groups to large, world-renowned museums and performing arts centers.  The Berkshire Museum secured $670,000 to address climate control system improvements in its Feigenbaum Hall of Innovation.


State Representative Christopher N. Speranzo (D-Pittsfield) stated, “I am pleased that the state has recognized the importance of the expansion of the Berkshire Museum's gallery space to Pittsfield's downtown and therefore awarded it a significant grant.”


The Mahaiwe Performing Arts center in Great Barrington has been allotted $147,000 to complete improvements to understage and backstage areas of the theater as well as infrastructure improvements for sound and lighting equipment. Downing stated, “The Mahaiwe is a model for a year-round tourist-based economy and is a catalyst for all of Berkshire County’s economic development.  Improving the bones of the Theatre greatly increases the ability to provide quality performances in every season.” 


As a growing performance venue, the Double Edge Theatre in Ashfield has faced a number of infrastructure challenges.   The Double Edge Theatre will receive $67,000 to help build a new septic system and upgrade bathroom facilities. 


State Representative Denis E. Guyer (D-Dalton) stated, “Cultural facilities are the backbone of the economic engine that powers many of the communities I represent.  I am happy to see that the Massachusetts Cultural Council has recognized the importance of these organizations and has awarded them grants from the new Cultural Facilities Fund."


Competition was fierce for CFF funds, as the MCC evaluated 201 requests for funding totaling $80 million.  MCC recruited 28 experts from across the U.S. with experience in tourism, facilities finance, real estate project management, construction, facilities operations, organizational development, grant making and historic renovation and preservation to review and rank the applications using a weighted set of criteria.  All applications were also reviewed by an appointed Cultural Facilities Fund Advisory Committee with statewide representation.  The board of MassDevelopment approved the awards, which MassDevelopment manages and disburses.  Award decisions were based on the recipients’ ranking and annual operating budget.  Maximum awards were capped at $675,000.  Grants announced today must be matched one-to-one by the recipient with funds from other sources.


The Legislature created the Cultural Facilities Fund in July 2006, appropriating an initial $13 million as part of an omnibus economic stimulus bill.  The FY 2008 state budget provided an additional $5 million.


Below is a listing of the 11 Cultural Facilities Fund awards for Berkshire and Franklin Counties




Berkshire Museum, Pittsfield


Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, North Adams


Shakespeare & Company, Lenox


Sterling & Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown


Trustees of Reservations- Naumkeag Preservation Projects, Lenox


The Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, Great Barrington


Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, Inc., Becket


Berkshire Athenaeum, Pittsfield


Double Edge Theatre, Ashfield


The Norman Rockwell Museum, Stockbridge




Hancock Shaker Village, Inc., Pittsfield


Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, Inc., Becket





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