Photo Gallery | North Adams is No. 2 spot for Creativ 20-somethings


NORTH ADAMS -- For Christopher Hantman, the Steeple City offers a wealth of opportunities.

"The city in itself breathes art," said Hantman, a recent graduate of the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. "From the custom painted crosswalks to the art exhibit of a bus-stop, there is no avoiding creativity in your daily life."

It may not be the super-hip New York City or Los Angeles, but the former manufacturing city of 13,708 residents is slowly gaining a reputation as an up-and-coming haven for young people.

North Adams was one of 15 cities across the country featured in an article on PolicyMic.com that highlighted affordable locations and creative atmospheres for young artists. Other areas that were recognized include Austin, Texas, Detroit, the Hudson Valley, and Providence, R.I.

The writer cited inexpensive apartment rentals -- as low as $450 a month for a two bedroom -- and 20 art galleries downtown making the city "an unearthed gem in the Northeast."

"This, in one paragraph, talks about the focus we should have," said Glenn Maloney, president of the North Adams Chamber of Commerce.

Maloney and Ricco Fruscio, program coordinator for the chamber, welcomed the recognition.

"This is a giant step toward changing people's consciousness," Fruscio said.

He pointed to events through the city's office of tourism and other attractions on Main Street as being important in attracting new residents.

"There's an old saying, ‘I go where I'm invited, and I stay where I'm appreciated,' " he said.

Both Maloney and Fruscio spoke of the importance of working with businesses and institutions to make residents feel welcome.

"All of a sudden people say, ‘Hey, I can become part of that. I can paint the sidewalks. I can run for city council,' " Fruscio said.

Jodi Joseph, director of communications at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Arts., said it was "rewarding to see our home city of North Adams called out ... as a great place for creative souls to live and work."

"The Berkshires -- and especially North Adams -- is a place where creativity is valued, and where there is an abundance of affordable, raw work space, exhibition space, and living space -- the kind where artistic minds tend to flourish," Joseph said.

Hantman, a native of Franklin, is one founding member of the Common Folk Artists Collective.

"Common Folk saw the creativity begging to be released, and it is part of our mission to show the common people that they are capable of uncommon, and creative, things," he said.

The collective regularly holds events in The Parlor, a coffee shop on Ashland Street across from MCLA, including poetry readings, concerts, and screenings of TED Talks.

"The area is great for young adults, with tons of live music events, poetry readings, and art exhibits happening every month," Hantman said. "Most of these events have a great social scene with them, creating something special, more so than your typical art event."

To reach Edward Damon:

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