Community Access to the Arts wins NEPR's Arts and Humanities Award


Photo Gallery | Community Access to the Arts (CATA) workshop

GREAT BARRINGTON — Community Access to the Arts (CATA), the small nonprofit with a big impact, has won the New England Public Radio's prestigious Arts and Humanities Award.

Other winners this year are Pulitzer Prize-winning author Tracy Kidder, Springfield Poet Laureate Maria Luis Arroyo, and the Amherst Cinema.

The award celebrates, according to its website, the contributions made to the western New England arts scene by individuals and organizations. The award was founded in 2008 by the New England Public Radio Foundation.

CATA is the first Berkshire County organization to win the award, according to a press release. It is also the first organization that specifically services the disabled to win the award.

"They do a wonderful job," state Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli, D-Lenox, said of the organization. He said a relative has taken advantage of CATA's programs.

"If you go to their summer performances, I'll tell you, it brings a tear to your eye," he said. "Just watching the joy on the faces of the performers, and seeing how it lifts them up. It's really amazing. I love CATA."

CATA has been in operation since 1993. It's mission is to celebrate and nurture the artistic abilities for people with disabilities.

"It's always powerful when your mission resonates within the community," said Keller. "It's proof that we have reached a wider audience."

CATA offers more than 1,000 different program to its clients, who live throughout the Berkshires.

There are a total of 600 CATA clients, but they're not all in Southern Berkshire. More than 200 live in Pittsfield, according to Keller.

"Our client base is primarily adult," she said. "But we reach out to teens at the high school level."

This year's annual budget is about $700,000, said Keller. More than 95 percent of this money returns to the community, she said. The organization depends on private contributions for about 75 percent of that budget, she said.

The workshops encompass a whole host of activities, according to the CATA website. These activities include dance, art, sculpture, music, acting, photography, juggling and other endeavors.

Keller pointed out that CATA artists have earned more than $3,500 in commissions on their work.

CATA students take part year-round in workshops. The culmination of the year is an annual performance in early summer as well as several art shows around the county.

"Half our mission is hosting our workshops for our clients," said Keller. "The other half are our art shows and performances."

Contact Derek Gentile at 413-496-6251.


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