by Mark G. Auerbach
An infusion of federal and state funds are making their way to not-for-profit arts and tourism organizations in Western Massachusetts this year. These grants, which must be matched dollar-for dollar at minimum by the participating groups, will, in the case of National Endowment for the Arts’ federal money, fund specific arts projects that will be produced in the region, but will impact the cultural communities outside the region. The state funds from the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund bolster capital projects that make the participating organizations’ facilities more accessible, and provide training programs to help the participants maintain and grow their stability in the future.
The Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund will make 63 capital grants totaling more than $8.7 million and another 35 planning grants totaling more than $500,000, to organizations in Massachusetts. The CFF’s impact extends beyond the nonprofit cultural sector in ways that benefit the broader economy. The organizations awarded grants generate $1.7 billion in annual economic activity through organizational spending on everything from supplies to energy and advertising. They are popular tourism destinations: About 16 million people visit these sites annually, one-third from out of state. The CFF has also spurred private investment, leveraging about $2.6 billion in spending on their building projects. Finally, CFF grants contribute to cultural preservation by helping to restore and expand many of the nation’s most treasured historical landmarks.
The following Western Massachusetts groups will be funded for capital grants: Chester Theatre Company inChester; Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in Becket; Northampton Community Arts Trust; Shakespeare and Company in Lenox; The Springfield Museums; The Clark Art Institute in Williamstown; Berkshire Botanical Garden in Stockbridge, and the Hitchcock Center in Amherst. Community Access Access to the Arts in Great Barrington will receive a technical assistance grant. Systems replacement grants are headed to Berkshire Scenic Railway in Lenox, Northampton Community Arts, Chester Theatre Company, and Berkshire Botanical Garden. For details on the projects funded: http://www.massculturalcouncil.org/facilities/facilities.htm
The National Endowment for The Arts has made Art Works Grants to two Western Massachuetts theatres. The Art Works category is the NEA’s largest funding category and supports projects that focus on the creation of art that meets the highest standards of excellence, public engagement with diverse and excellent art, lifelong learning in the arts, and/or the strengthening of communities through the arts. Barrington Stage has received $10,000 for its world premiere musical The Royal Family of Broadway by William Finn and Rachel Sheinkin which plays in Pittsfield June 7-July 7. The Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington and Berkshires Jazz Inc. have received $10,000 for a performance of John Pizzarelli and Jessica Molaskey in Radio Deluxe Live, which will be recorded live on December 22. For details on .Barrington Stage: https://barringtonstageco.org/. For information on The Mahaiwe: http://www.mahaiwe.org/
Mark G. Auerbach studied theatre at American University and the Yale School of Drama. He’s worked for arts organizations and reported on theatre for newspapers and radio. Mark produces and hosts ArtsBeat Radio for 89.5fm/WSKB.