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PRESS RELEASE - State Cultural Grants a Boon to the Region
September 30, 2009

Downing lauds $694K infusion to support schools, nonprofit cultural groups & local cultural councils
 
Boston – State Senator Benjamin B. Downing (D- Pittsfield) announced today that the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) awarded $694,445 to cultural organizations, schools and local cultural councils throughout his Berkshire, Hampshire and Franklin district.  The grants support a variety of cultural activities benefitting the regional cultural economy and local residents.
 
The Massachusetts Cultural Council is the state agency charged with promoting excellence, access, education and diversity in the arts, humanities and sciences in order to improve the quality of life for all Massachusetts residents and contribute to the economic vitality of our communities. It is committed to creating a central place for the arts, sciences and humanities in the everyday lives of communities across the Commonwealth. The Council pursues this mission through a combination of grants, services, and advocacy for nonprofit cultural organizations, schools, communities, and artists.
 
“I’m proud to support these cultural organizations and community groups in their work to enrich our lives and improve our communities through arts and culture,” said Downing.
 
Awards in Downing’s district came from two MCC programs, the Cultural Investment Portfolio and the Local Cultural Council (LCC) Program.  
 
The MCC Cultural Investment Portfolio provides unrestricted operating funds to nearly 400 arts, humanities, and science organizations with track records of excellence, education, and community service. These organizations allow Massachusetts children and adults to experience everything from theatre and music to visual arts and dance, and learn about history and nature, new languages and cultures. These grants must be matched one to one, and range from $2,500 to $50,500. 
 
The LCC Program is the most extensive cultural funding system of its kind in the nation. This grassroots network provides funding to every Massachusetts city and town through 329 LCCs and 2,500 volunteer members. The councils support community-based projects that explore local arts and history, expand education and accessibility, and celebrate diversity.
 
A total of $490,045 in Cultural Investment Portfolio monies was awarded to the following local organizations:
 
Aston Magna Foundation for Music & Humanities, Great Barrington
$5,900: Organizational Support Program: to enrich the appreciation of music of the past and the understanding of the cultural, political, and social contexts in which it was composed and experienced; to reach a larger public through the use of historical instruments and practices in performances, recordings, workshops, and through innovative interdisciplinary educational programs.
 
Barrington Stage Company, Pittsfield
$9,190: YouthReach Program: for groups of teens to create entirely youth-conceived and youth-written shows under the guidance of professional playwrights, artistic mentors, and peer mentors that tour area schools and community     venues.
 
Barrington Stage Company, Pittsfield
$16,800: Organizational Support Program: to produce top-notch, compelling work; to develop new plays and musicals; and find fresh, bold ways of bringing new audiences into the theater.
 
Bazaar Productions, Great Barrington
$2,500: Organizational Support Program: to provide recognition and resources to emerging artists and to inspire the Berkshire community by presenting high-quality cultural programming that is financially accessible to all; to focus on work that blends genres, creates new styles, and delves into traditions underrepresented in the mainstream.
 
Berkshire Arts & Technology Charter School, Adams
$6,175: Creative Schools Program: to improve student literacy and writing skills through a school-wide project to fully integrate the arts and digital media with the English Language Arts Standards.
 
Berkshire Choral Festival, Inc., Sheffield
$7,500: Organizational Support Program: to enhance the skills of choral singers while extending the knowledge and appreciation of choral singing and its tradition to singers and audiences.
 
Berkshire Community Radio Alliance, Great Barrington
$2,500: Organizational Support Program: to create a forum to educate and entertain the community by offering a broad mix of cultural programming and views which reflect the diversity of the local and world community, promoting access for underrepresented voices and providing an opportunity for members of the public to produce their own programming.
 
The Berkshire Historical Society, Pittsfield
$3,800: Organizational Support Program: to collect, preserve, and disseminate the history of Berkshire County, Massachusetts, and to use its collections for research, exhibition, education, and loan, including its principal artifact, Arrowhead, home of Herman Melville.
 
The Berkshire Museum, Pittsfield
$14,900: Organizational Support Program: to enrich, inspire, and educate through interactions with the arts, history, and the natural world.
 
The Berkshire Music School, Inc., Pittsfield
$5,500: Organizational Support Program: to provide quality education in music, and musical opportunities, to people in the greater Berkshire community, regardless of race, religion, ethnic origin, disability, age or ability to pay.
 
Berkshire Theatre Festival, Inc., Stockbridge
$15,700: Organizational Support Program: to sustain, encourage, promote and produce theatre for its community though performance and educational activities.
 
Center for Ecological Technology, Inc., Pittsfield
$16,100: Organizational Support Program: to research, develop, demonstrate, and promote those technologies with the least disruptive impact on the natural ecology of the Earth; to provide programs that advance public understanding of the impacts of human actions on the natural environment, and introduce practical solutions, both technological and behavioral, to minimize those impacts.
 
Sterling & Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown
$43,700: Organizational Support Program: to advance scholarship and extend the public understanding of art.
 
Close Encounters with Music, Inc., Great Barrington
$2,500: Organizational Support Program: to engage the imagination of diverse concert audiences through thematic chamber music with commentary, connecting listeners to performers and composers, fostering the excitement of live performance arts.
 
The Colonial Theatre, Pittsfield
$10,100: Organizational Support Program: to enrich life in Pittsfield and the Berkshires by producing, presenting, and hosting a wide variety of quality performances and events, accessible to all, while fostering artistic collaboration and performing arts education in a restored national historic landmark.
 
Community Access to the Arts, Inc., Great Barrington
$6,100: Organizational Support Program: to lessen the stigma of difference and disability through shared experiences in the visual and performing arts by providing multidisciplinary arts programs for individuals with physical, emotional, and/or mental disabilities in an integrative environment with the community at large.
 
Country Dance and Song Society, Haydenville
$5,400: Organizational Support Program: to build and support communities that preserve and promote traditional music, dance and song in the English and American genres through its participatory educational programs, publications, community outreach, retail sales and membership services.
 
Crosby Elementary School, Pittsfield
$6,175: Creative Schools Program: for Crosby Elementary School teachers to work in collaboration with the Berkshire Museum's education staff to enhance student learning and experiences at the Museum and in the classroom, incorporating these two venues to enrich the grade level frameworks.
 
Double Edge Theatre Productions, Inc., Ashfield
$4,900: Organizational Support Program: to develop and promote the highest quality of original theatre performance, based on the principle of long-term imaginative work of the actor and his/her interaction with the communities in which the work takes place, and to create at its home, ‘The Farm,’ located in Ashfield, MA, a permanent center of performance, practice, training, research and cultural exchange which elevates the understanding of artistic expression and cultural mutuality between artists and their communities.
 
 
Earthdance Creative Living Project, Inc., Plainfield
$3,400: Organizational Support Program: to provide a gathering place that inspires the art and spirit of movement improvisation by supporting and training people at all skill levels to find and develop expression in dance, theater and music.
 
Flying Cloud Institute, New Marlborough
$2,500: Organizational Support Program: to promote creative thinking and learning in children from grade school through high school by providing unique experiences in the arts and sciences that augments today's teaching methodologies and inspire kids to express themselves.
 
Gateway Regional Middle School, Huntington
$6,175: Creative Schools Program: for students learn about characterization, plot, setting, and what they have to offer as creative individuals through an afterschool program that partners each student with a theatre professional to write a play that is professionally produced and performed before the public.
 
Hancock Shaker Village, Inc., Pittsfield
$12,500: Organizational Support Program: to bring the Shaker story to life and preserve it for future generations.
 
Images Cinema, Williamstown
$6,500: Organizational Support Program: to present a wide range of independent, foreign, and classic films that impact filmmaking and our culture; to explore film as an art form, a source of entertainment, and an educational tool.
 
Inkberry, Inc., North Adams
$2,500: Organizational Support Program: to promote the literary arts in the Berkshires, Inkberry collaborates with community organizations to explore diverse issues through readings and events; develops programs with local schools to foster reading and writing as valuable endeavors; brings readers and writers together to strengthen connections between reading, writing, and life.
 
IS183 Art School, Stockbridge
$4,300: Organizational Support Program: to encourage creativity and self expression through direct experience in the visual and applied arts by providing tools, space, instruction, and inspiration year-round to people of all ages, means and abilities.
 
Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, Inc., Becket
$39,300: Organizational Support Program: to support dance creation, presentation, education, and preservation; and to engage and deepen public appreciation and support for dance.
 
Kidspace, North Adams
$11,150: YouthReach Program: to offer teenage girls the opportunity to explore a positive means of self-expression and make helpful contributions to their community through "yogart" (yoga training, art-making activities, and art-based dialogues), and through mentoring younger girls.
 
The Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, Great Barrington
$2,500: Organizational Support Program: to restore the historic Mahaiwe Theater and transform it into a major year-round performing arts center of the Southern Berkshires and neighboring communities dedicated to the development and enrichment of the artistic and educational life of the area.
 
Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, North Adams
$31,500: Organizational Support Program: to be a multi-disciplinary platform for creating, presenting, and distributing the best art of our time, and a catalyst for economic development that benefits the region with jobs, a diversified commercial base and spin-off opportunities.
 
Monument Mountain Regional High School, Great Barrington
$6,175: Creative Schools Program: for a collaboration with Jacob's Pill Dance Festival to deepen faculty and student capacity to address school-wide issues and problem-solving through a creative inquiry process that uses dance and choreography and that includes professional development, one-on-one mentoring, work with students, and a summer dance institute to bring dance into the life of the school.
 
Morris Elementary School, Lenox
$3,705: Creative Schools Program: to incorporate Shakespeare & Company's Elementary School Residency into each of the fifth grade classes, culminating in 2008-09 with a performance of Romeo & Juliet.
North Adams Public Schools, North Adams
$18,450: Creative Schools Program: for an extensive residency project with three elementary schools, structured around a pair of exhibitions exploring art that utilizes film, text, and food, reorganizing these materials to form new art concepts and images.
 
North Berkshire School Union, North Adams
$13,035: Creative Schools Program: for extensive artist residencies, curriculum units, teacher workshops, Kidspace visits (art-making activities and tours), and visits to three museums, including a pair of exhibitions exploring art that sheds light on different issues of identity and community life.
 
Northern Berkshire Creative Arts, North Adams
$2,500: Organizational Support Program: to provide a broad range of studio classes in the creative arts, both traditional and contemporary, offered to all members of the Northern Berkshires and surrounding communities.          
 
The Orion Society, Great Barrington
$9,800: Organizational Support Program: to inform, inspire, and engage individuals and grassroots organizations in becoming a significant cultural force for healing nature and community.
 
Paris Press, Inc., Ashfield
$5,000: Organizational Support Program: to publish and educate the public about essential and ground-breaking literature by women writers that has been neglected by the literary and commercial publishing worlds.
 
Pilgrim Theatre Research & Performance Collaborative, Ashfield
$2,500: Organizational Support Program: to research into the meaning and methods of theatre practice, to collaboration with artists of all disciplines and cultures, and to the creation of challenging, innovative performances for the diverse audiences of the world.
 
Richmond Consolidated School, Richmond
$6,175: Creative Schools Program: to enhance classroom curriculum and satisfy the requirements of the Massachusetts Arts Frameworks through Arts and Science residencies in the areas of music, dance, theatre, visual arts, design, and storytelling.
 
The Norman Rockwell Museum, Stockbridge
$21,300: Organizational Support Program: to preserve, study, and communicate with a worldwide audience the life, art, and spirit of Norman Rockwell in the field of illustration.
 
Shakespeare & Company, Lenox
$7,500: YouthReach Program: for a diversion program for young offenders in the Berkshire County Juvenile Court system to perform Shakespeare and learn to keep commitments and work together, acquire new skills, and express thoughts and feelings.
 
Shakespeare & Company, Lenox
$20,300: Organizational Support Program: to create a theater of excellence offering performances of classical and new works and generating opportunities for collaboration between actors and directors from all different backgrounds; to provide unique in-depth classical training and performance methods to theatre professionals; to transform the way in which Shakespeare is taught both in and after school through high-impact residencies, workshops and performances that are dynamic, intellectually challenging and emotionally engaging.
                   
Snow Farm: The New England Craft Program, Williamsburg
$7,500: Organizational Support Program: to provide adolescents through seniors the highest quality arts education in an inspiring setting at affordable prices.
 
Southern Berkshire Regional Schools, Sheffield
$18,040: Creative Schools Program: to integrate arts and science activities into a new K-8math curriculum through staff development and curriculum design.
 
Triple Shadow, Inc., East Otis
$2,500: Organizational Support Program: to perform and publicly present original theater works, evolving a language of innovative musical, acting, dance, and visual elements, combining contemporary issues with extensive study of non-Euro-American arts practices to provide an experience of the links between human and other life forms.
 
Williams College Museum of Art, Williamstown
$7,500: Organizational Support Program: to provides students, faculty, regional audiences, and cultural tourists with opportunities to learn about art across time and cultures by providing a range of challenging educational opportunities for visitors of all ages and encouraging access to exhibitions, collections, and programs through free admission.
 
Williamstown Theatre Festival, Williamstown
$30,300: Organizational Support Program: to produce classic and new works with distinction, offer emerging theater artists exceptional opportunities, and create and sustain programs that have the potential to serve a diverse community.
 
A total of $204,400 was awarded to LCC’s in Downing’s district:
 
  • Alford-Egremont Cultural Council - $6,730
  • Ashfield Cultural Council - $4,000             
  • Becket Cultural Council - $4,000
  • Charlemont-Hawley Cultural Council - $6,730     
  • Chesterfield Cultural Council - $4,000     
  • Conway Cultural Council - $4,000              
  • Cultural Council of Northern Berkshire - $45,280               
  • Cummington Cultural Council - $4,000
  • Dalton Cultural Council - $4,000 
  • Goshen Cultural Council - $4,000              
  • Great Barrington Cultural Council - $4,000            
  • Heath Cultural Council - $4,000  
  • Hinsdale-Peru Cultural Council - $6,730 
  • Huntington Cultural Council - $4,000       
  • Lee Cultural Council - $4,000                       
  • Lenox Cultural Council - $4,000
  • Middlefield Cultural Council - $4,000       
  • Monterey Cultural Council - $4,000         
  • Mount Washington Cultural Council - $4,000       
  • New Marlborough Cultural Council - $4,000         
  • Otis Cultural Council - $4,000      
  • Pittsfield Cultural Council - $18,930          
  • Plainfield Cultural Council - $4,000           
  • Richmond Cultural Council - $4,000          
  • Rowe Cultural Council - $4,000  
  • Sandisfield Cultural Council - $4,000        
  • Sheffield Cultural Council - $4,000            
  • Stockbridge Cultural Council - $4,000      
  • Tyringham Cultural Council - $4,000         
  • Washington Cultural Council - $4,000      
  • West Stockbridge Cultural Council - $4,000          
  • Westhampton Cultural Council - $4,000 
  • Williamsburg Cultural Council - $4,000    
  • Windsor Cultural Council - $4,000             
  • Worthington Cultural Council - $4,000    
 
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