MASSCreative launched in Berkshires to advocate for arts

Wednesday October 17, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- A statewide initiative to fuel creativity in Massachusetts has inspired many art-minded folks in the Berkshires.

MASSCreative, advocates for the regional and statewide creative community, launched its Berkshires initiative Tuesday night at the Berkshire Museum.

MASSCreative started on Oct. 1. The organization will meet with arts leaders in 10 cities throughout the state to inspire the community and provide a powerful voice on the local, regional and state level for creative organizations, artists and the general.

"We are set up and ready to educate, advocate and organize," said Matt Wilson, the executive director for MASSCreative.

Known for its arts and culture, the Berkshires' lively creative arts scene is one of its biggest draws. Before MASSCreative, there was already Berkshire Creative, which does what MASSCreative does -- work toward arts advocacy -- but on a smaller scale.

"[Arts are] our life blood," Berkshire Creative Director Jodi Joseph told the well-attended event, held in the museum's Little Cinema. "It's what sustains us."

About 329 creative organizations exist in the state of Massachusetts. Having a voice at a state level will help increase visibility of the arts in a society known for cutting creative arts funds first during tight budgets.

"We will have a strong voice in the Statehouse," Joseph said. "It's adding just one more voice."

Several community leaders stepped up to the podium to speak to the community, which roused the crowd with MASSCreative's set plan to educate, advocate and organize for a stronger statewide arts scene.

A well-known figure in supporting the Berkshires arts scene, including the First Fridays Artswalk, Allen Harris of the Berkshire Money Management, spoke once again of his support for an arts movement.

"It's important we flood this county with people to enjoy what your expertise is," he told the crowd.

Crispina French is a lifelong Berkshire artist who took to the podium to present the side of a working artist, and convey that artists' contributions are important and should be acknowledged by the Legislature.

"We're risk-takers, boundary-pushers and economy-makers," French said. "Artists can build and inspire change in our culture."

State representatives Paul Mark and Tricia Farley-Bouvier were at the event, but Mark left before he could speak. Farley-Bouvier spoke to the crowd about the importance of a strong relationship between advocators of art and culture and legislators.

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