WESTFIELD-Members of ArtWorks Westfield are encouraging area residents to attend an open forum on June 13 to discuss new ideas and suggestions to expand the cultural scene in the city.
The gathering is planned in the main conference room at Western Massachusetts Hospital, 91 East Mountain Road, beginning at 7 p.m. The evening’s theme is “Westfield’s Future – Art & Culture in Our City!”
Bill Westerlind, ArtWorks president, noted that the organization brings together “creators, community, and commerce,” which is a “winning combo.”
More than three years ago, after a series of open forum informational meetings, ArtWorks Westfield was launched. Westerlind said from the beginning, the mission has been to provide opportunities for local and regional creators – artists, authors, musicians, dancers, poets, sculptors, and performance artists (to name just a few) – to share their talent with the community via cultural experiences throughout the year in conjunction with support from local businesses.
“The result has been a highly successful partnership of creators, community and commerce that has enriched our community and earned Westfield an increasingly positive reputation as an up-and-coming cultural destination in Western Massachusetts,” said Westerlind.
Westerlind said the open forum is a way to gather input, suggestions and ideas about the path forward in the growth of the arts and cultural experiences in the city.
“We consider the next series of open meetings the next step in our evolution,” said Westerlind.
In addition to ideas, ArtWorks members are hopeful that area residents will also consider becoming an active volunteer.
“Along with feedback and input, we are also seeking the public’s involvement in the group,” said Westerlind. “The operating costs of the majority of our activities are relatively low and supported by grants, sponsorships and annual memberships. What we need most right now are lots of volunteers to help us execute a broader and more diverse mix of artistic and cultural experiences.”
Westerlind added that with more public involvement, ArtWorks Westfield and the cultural scene can be taken to the next level.
“We’ve grown exponentially since our very first cultural event back in April 2016,” said Westerlind. “In order to continue that growth and community enrichment, we need more volunteers and organizers.”
The public forum will be organized and orchestrated by members of the ArtWorks board of directors.
“We want to offer so much more in the way of interactive and experiential art and cultural opportunities in the city and that is the nature of this open forum style public meeting,” said Westerlind.
Westerlind noted that business owners interested in supporting the growing arts and cultural scene are also encouraged to attend the meeting.
“Input provides a diversity of ideas and suggestions that we might otherwise overlook or not even understand,” said Westerlind. “The diversity of suggestions and opinions is a very good thing.”
A new dining rewards program with participating local businesses includes wearing a “I Support ArtWorks Pin” to receive a discount, according to ArtWorks member Wayne Weatherwax.
“This year we are asking our area merchants to support ArtWorks by providing ArtWorks members with a discount at their respective business,” said Weatherwax, adding the 1 1/2” diameter pins will be available at all ArtWorks events. A pin and 1-year membership is a $20 donation to support ArtWorks. Colorful lanyards are also available for $10.
“The businesses offering a discount will display a small sign with the ArtWorks emblem,” said Weatherwax, adding, “You must wear the pin to get a discount.”
As ArtWorks members gear up for the busy cultural season ahead, a few highlights include the summer series of free open air concerts on Fridays from 7 – 9 p.m. at 53 Elm St.
“This year we wanted to present some groups who have not performed in the series in the past and also give a second chance to three bands that got rained out last year,” said ArtWorks member Thomas Sawyer. “These concerts are comfortable for anyone and often include kids and adults dancing in front of the stage.”
Concertgoers should bring seats, snacks and beverages other than alcoholic beverages which are not permitted. Concerts are canceled if rain is occurring or a certainty.
“The concert series is made possible by donations from generous local sponsors who are listed on the banner and posters, and by a grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council through the Westfield Cultural Council,” said Sawyer.
The concert schedule includes: June 21, Berkshire Mountain Boys; June 28, Reptilian Czar; July 12, Esperanto; July 19, The Reprobates; July 26, Sold Out; Aug. 2, Kittie Does Country; Aug. 9, Mac and Vinnie Band; Aug. 16, Stumpy and Friends, and Aug. 30, Franklin County Sweethearts.
Also this summer, the ArtWalk Westfield events continue on the third Friday of each month during June, July and August, and the third Saturday of each month for the rest of the year.
In the fall, a Westfield Youth Art Show is slated Sept. 14 from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. at the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Westfield, funded by the Massachusetts Cultural Council and Westfield Cultural Council.
“This is an excellent juried show for children and teens in Westfield to show off their art skills,” said ArtWorks member Shannon Chiba. “It is a unique and free opportunity for youth artists to learn how to become more involved in the arts and to see others’ work.”
Also, an Armed Forces Art Therapy Art Show is planned Nov. 14 – 15, hosted by the Short Stop Bar & Grill in Westfield.
“Veterans as well as their families face a systemic problem with accessing adequate mental health services in the wake of PTSD, and the creative arts can be a wonderful outlet for expression and healing,” said ArtWorks member Ashley Read. “This show will offer them all the opportunity to showcase their talent and passion.”