Community leaders to be honored at Berkshire Awards ceremony


PITTSFIELD >> Decades-long local crusaders for arts, the environment and black history and culture will be honored at the Berkshire Museum on Friday at the fourth annual Berkshire Awards ceremony.

Young people aspiring to become the next crop of local movers and shakers are to present the awards to the recipients: Jane Burke, Sandra L. Burton, Don Quinn Kelley and Lola Jaffe.

A seven-minute documentary film on each of the four honorees will also be screened at the event, which begins at 5:30 p.m. at the museum.

"What I love about the Berkshire Awards is it celebrates people who have directly shaped the quality of life we enjoy today in the Berkshires," said Berkshire Museum Executive Director Van Shields. "Ever since I arrived here, I've been impressed by this incredible ecosystem based on arts, historical preservation and conservation of our natural resources. The people who helped shape this are who we try to honor."

Added Bill Hines, president of the Berkshire Museum board of trustees: "The people of the Berkshire Museum are proud to recognize the accomplishments of these individuals, each of whom have made important contributions to the preservation of the unique cultural and natural heritage of the Berkshires."

Burke is the executive director of New Marlborough's Flying Cloud Institute, which has played a vital role in science, technology, engineering and math education both on campus and through partnerships with four county school districts.

FCI began in 1980 with a focus on environmental education, energy, land conservation and the arts.

The institute presently reaches more than 3,500 young learners via in-school programs, summer programs, after-school programs and summer programs for girls.

Burton serves as Lipp Family Director of Dance and senior lecturer in dance at Williams College, and has choreographed for productions on both sides of the Atlantic and all the major local stages, including Jacob's Pillow Dance.

She and Don Quinn Kelley helped found Lift Ev'ry Voice, the biannual summer festival celebrating black culture and heritage that features events at venues around the county.

Quinn Kelley, professor emeritus of Interdisciplinary Studies at City University of New York, has seen his documentary films screened all around the world and even in the hallowed halls of the United Nations and is a trustee of the local Samuel Harrison Society.

Lola Jaffe, is the founder of Great Barrington's Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, a 690-seat performing arts venue that entertains more than 40,000 visitors per year, as well as the Anne Levinson Fund for Experiencing the Arts at the Berkshire Taconic Foundation. The fund is used to introduce Berkshire County high school students to the arts in New York City.

She also has served on the boards of Jacob's Pillow, Boston Symphony Orchestra and many other organizations.

"We try to celebrate the full breadth of the community," said Nina Garlington, Berkshire Museum's director of development.

Of the young presenters, Garlington added, "Thirty years from now, we want them to be on that stage. That's the real goal of Berkshire Awards. Keeping it going."

Contact Phil Demers at 413-496-6214.


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