Family fun at Figment North Adams festival

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NORTH ADAMS — Where can you find plastic bag art, a life-sized game of Candy Land, and live music from regional bands?

This Saturday, from 3 to 9 p.m., you can find all of the above and more on the shores of Windsor Lake, where FIGMENT North Adams will make its debut. (The rain date is Sunday.)

The festival is part of a network known as the FIGMENT Project, which includes cities ranging from New York to Chicago, Boston to Toronto, Portland to San Diego, and more. Each FIGMENT has its own local producer, who commits to following the mission of offering a free, community-oriented, family-friendly festival geared toward promoting the participatory arts. The FIGMENT umbrella agency, in turn, offers guidance, support and the festival brand to participating communities.

Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts senior Krystal Henriquez, a Springfield native studying arts management, has taken the lead as the executive producer for FIGMENT North Adams.

Formerly an intern with FIGMENT Boston, she was inspired to start FIGMENT North Adams during her arts management class on grants and fundraising, taught by Lisa Donovan.

"She asked us to choose a project you can be passionate about," said Henriquez. "I really appreciated the values and spirit of the event. But I quickly learned it was not about bringing the festival to town, but creating a FIGMENT in your city."

The college student, says it hasn't been an easy process, noting that planning began back in the fall. After getting support from her class and from David Koren, executive producer for the international FIGMENT organization, she then had to find a venue and get approval for it.

Henriquez had her first meeting the Windsor Lake Commission in September, then a follow-up meeting with city officials in October, to gain approval. In her presentations, Henriquez made the appeal that, "FIGMENT is all of us. It will result in making social interactions easier by the environment that it creates."

Her core team selected Windsor Lake, because, she said, they saw it as a space that's both familiar to the city and students, but also under-used. "It's beautiful up there ... it has a nice big green area, and the people at Windsor Lake are wonderful to work with."

Henriquez also had the challenge of rallying support around a never-before-done project.

She began asking for help, and found it in Donovan and fellow arts management students, like Chris Handschuh, who's helped with communications and bringing preview events to the Northern Berkshires.

Back in February, the FIGMENT North Adams group teamed up with Common Folk Artist Collective to present an evening of acoustic music at The Log in Williamstown to promote the event, solicit volunteers and recruit community artists.

Local resident Meghan Robertson joined the volunteer corps because she felt, "it was a great mission and something that the North Adams community would really appreciate and support," and something that could benefit surrounding communities as well.

In March, FIGMENT Executive Producer David Koren visited North Adams and MCLA to meet with advanced performing arts management students to discuss FIGMENT North Adams and strategies to bring it to fruition.

Though North Adams is the smallest city FIGMENT has touched, the local group has garnered 70 volunteers and more than 55 Berkshire County and regional artists to participate, from elementary school students to professional performers.

"FIGMENT is really growing here. A lot of people have attached to this as something that is their own," Henriquez said.

Asked what she thinks makes the North Adams festival unique, she noted that while the New York festival focused on sculpture and Boston's was filled with light installations and technology innovations, the North Adams festival received a lot of music and activities-based submissions from the area's creative types.

"What that says to me is that people are creating work to get people together and to have discussions and interact," said Henriquez.

Some examples of this include Clarksburg Elementary School's two activities, the giant Candy Land game and an interactive map project. There will be nine musical acts performing on the main stage from 3:10 to 9:50 p.m. New Hampshire-based artist, Danielle Baudrand, who started The Plastic Bag Project in New York City, will bring the project to Windsor Lake as well.

Other activities include: The 1,000 paper crane challenge; community mural and sign painting; mimes and theater games; crafts and art-making, glow-in-the dark games, hula hooping, yoga and meditation and more.

To make the event even more accessible, shuttle vans will pick up and drop off participants every half-hour, starting at 3 p.m., at MCLA, in front of Murdock Hall, 375 Church St., in North Adams.

The Windsor Lake grills will be open for public use, as well as the entire grounds.

Henriquez, who plans to stay in North Adams after graduation to participate in the B-HIP Internship program and look for employment, said she also plans to take in feedback from this year's FIGMENT North Adams to produce it again next year, and see if she can gain even more support for it.

As for this weekend's event, she said she's just looking forward to the turnout and taking it all in. So far, 250 people have RSVP'd via Facebook, with another 479 people expressing interest in the event.

"The concept is hard to explain, but once people step foot onto FIGMENT they will understand why they came. That's kind of the beauty of it," said Henriquez. "I'm really excited to see what FIGMENT looks like in North Adams. We know the projects are going to be there, so we hope people take interest in it and come together and see what evolves, because there's only one chance to be a part of it."

if you go

What: FIGMENT North Adams, a free, family-friendly, community arts festival, featuring live music, art projects, yoga, games, theatre, public arts participation and more.

When: From 3 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Saturday; rain date Sunday.

Where: Windsor Lake, near the intersection of Kemp Avenue and Bradley Street, North Adams.

Shuttles: Leave every half-hour starting at 3 p.m., at Murdock Hall at MCLA, 375 Church St.

Event details, band lineups and more: northadams.figmentproject.org, northadams.figmentproject.org/artist_and_projects; search "FIGMENT North Adams" on Facebook and Instagram, and "FIGMENTNAdams" on Twitter.


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