North Adams lands $25,000 grant for 10-week concert series


NORTH ADAMS — The city and Berkshire Cultural Resource Center have won a $25,000 grant to host a 10-week concert series in Colegrove Park this year.

The grant, awarded by the national nonprofit Levitt Pavilions, will provide funding for North Adams to become one of 15 cities across the country to host a free concert series for its residents this year.

Mayor Richard Alcombright said he was excited to fix up the park — which needs a performance space and electricity — and host the series.

"It's also very positive exposure for the city," he said.

The concert series is expected to run from mid-August into mid-October, rounding out the jam-packed schedule of summer cultural activities in Northern Berkshires, like the weekly concerts at Windsor Lake and weekly Party at the Park concerts at Noel Field.

"I think it really says something about what's going on in North Adams," said BCRC Director Jennifer Crowell. "This is a really special place that's right at the beginning of a new phase in its existence, and this is a way to celebrate that."

Spearheaded by the BCRC, which operated under the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, the North Adams proposal received the second-highest number of votes of any city or town during a public voting period last year. Cities with populations up to 400,000 people were eligible to apply for the grant.

Levitt reviewed the top 25 vote-getting proposals and chose 15 award-winners, which were announced on Tuesday.

"We're thrilled," Crowell said. "I think when we applied for the grant knowing that it was a national competition, knowing that we were going up against a bunch of cities, obviously we thought 'Oh, little old North Adams, how are we going to stand up?' [But] we knew that what we had here was really special."

The timing of the series also would provide students at MCLA an opportunity to attend the concerts.

"We knew from the beginning that we wanted the students to have an opportunity to participate in this, because MCLA and the student body is a very important part of this community," Crowell said.

The nonprofit, which was launched in 2014, requires that the grant be matched with $25,000 from the applicant.

"Levitt AMP brings the joy of free, live music to people of all ages and backgrounds living in small to mid-sized towns and cities, transforming neglected public spaces into thriving community destinations," according to the group's website.

Alcombright said he will look to the private sector for financial support in preparing the park for the series; the current vision includes a small performance space that could serve multiple functions.

"I will be very assertively looking for sponsors for this over the next couple of months, and those moneys will probably serve as our matching," Alcombright said. "We're really going to be looking very hard into how we facilitate some sort of performance space there."

As for the music itself, Crowell said the organizers would welcome public input on what Levitt expects to be a diverse range of artists.

Beyond the concert series, Alcombright said the downtown park could be used for other types of performances.

"At one point, with the school there and whatnot, it was an active piece of city infrastructure. I just think it's a pretty setting," Alcombright said of the park.

Contact Adam Shanks at 413-496-6376.


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