PITTSFIELD -- The arts and culture scene downtown has been cranked up -- to a 10.

The second 10x10 Festival kicked off Thursday, building upon the inaugural event last year to include more art, activities and partners.

"People wanted more family-friendly activities since we coincide with February vacation week," said Megan Whilden, the director of Cultural Development for the City of Pittsfield. "We also have twice as many partners."

Ten is the magic number at the 10x10 festival: It lasts for 10 days (until Feb. 24). Some of the canvasses used in art displayed throughout the Upstreet Cultural District were 10 inches by 10 inches. Plays and film shorts only last 10 minutes.

"It's a simple theme that allows the artists to go off in many different directions," Whilden said.

Julianne Boyd, the artistic director for Barrington Stage Company, helped bring the 10x10 Festival to Pittsfield after seeing a similar event in Cape Cod.

Like last year, there will be 10 snappy plays from 10 playwrights, each 10 minutes in length, shown throughout the festival at the St. Germain Stage on Linden Street. The plays were chosen from 186 plays submitted.

"It's a wonderful opportunity to meet a lot of different playwrights at once," Boyd said. "And if you don't like the first play, then you'll like the next one, or the next one."

A number much bigger than 10 -- a billion -- was on the mind of people on the second floor of Spice Dragon.


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A dance party was held as part of "One Billion Rising," a global movement that takes place on Valentine's Day to call for an end to violence against women and girls. It merged with the 10x10 Festival for its opening night dance.

"It's using an event to strike and raise awareness," said Kristen van Ginhoven, who helped coordinate the dance-strike.

Ten short films were also shown at the Beacon Cinema as past of the Smartphone Film Festival.

Pittsfield artist Scott Taylor cuts print blocks in his North Street studio.
Pittsfield artist Scott Taylor cuts print blocks in his North Street studio. (Ben Garver / Berkshire Eagle Staff)

A new partner at this year's 10x10 Festival is the Berkshire Museum on South Street. In the museum's Gallery of Dinosaurs and Paleontology hangs dozens of different paintings, all on canvasses that are 10 inches high and 10 inches wide.

Upstairs was the aftermath of "WeeMuse: 10 Days of Play: A Pop-Up Adventure Playground," which took place earlier in the day on Thursday. The event, which is held for several days throughout the festival, allows kids to use boxes, tape and crayons to build and create whatever they would like. Many children made forts and cars with the cardboard boxes.

"It's not what it does for the museum, it's what the museum does for the community," said Van Shields, the museum's executive director.

A reception was held in City Hall for the 10 Berkshire students who had their artwork selected from 93 pieces from an online vote. There were 1,400 votes cast online.

A full list of the festival's activities is available at discoverpittsfield.com/10x10.

To reach Adam Poulisse:
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On Twitter: @BE_Poulisse