Pittsfield: Mastheads writers' residency accepting applications; Crowdfunding campaign launched

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PITTSFIELD — The Office of Cultural Development announces the release of The Mastheads writers' residency application. The inaugural month-long residency will take place in July and feature five writers.

The brainchild of husband and wife architecture team Chris Parkinson and Tessa Kelly, the Mastheads project recognizes Pittsfield's legacy of writers of the American Renaissance, including Herman Melville, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry David Thoreau, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Oliver Wendell Holmes.

Between the years of 1840 and 1860, these authors all produced work in and about Pittsfield.

The Mastheads seek to preserve this history of writing about place through the production of new content and knowledge.

The program's inaugural season is July 2017, when five selected writers will be paired with a private studio for a month-long residency, complemented by city-wide public programming and events.

Each year, five writers across disciplines (poetry, fiction, non-fiction, translation) are awarded residencies. Writers-in-residence receive a $900 stipend, housing, daily lunch, and exclusive use of one of five studios, which are located throughout Pittsfield.

"This project showcases the vision and artistry of our creative community and also creates a bridge to Pittsfield's illustrious literary past," stated Mayor Linda M Tyer. "We are, indeed, a city where the arts has a dedicated space to flourish and thrive."

The writing studios, which will be dispersed across the city at five new sites each summer, then de-installed for the remainder of the year, promote this dual condition-individual introspection from a specific vantage point and connection to a large-scale urban network. The locations for the inaugural year of the project are: Melville and Hawthorne at Arrowhead; Holmes at Canoe Meadows; Thoreau at Springside Park; and Longfellow at Pittsfield High School.

Go to http://themastheads.org/apply/ to apply. The deadline is Feb. 15, 2017.

MassDevelopment and the Upper Housatonic Valley National Heritage Area are partnering to raise funds for the Mastheads project through the civic crowdfunding platform Patronicity and the Commonwealth Places initiative.

If the campaign reaches its crowdfunding goal of $50,000 by March 17 at midnight, the project will win a matching grant with funds from MassDevelopment's Commonwealth Places program. Learn more and donate at www.Patronicity.com/Pittsfield.

The project is supported in part by an Our Town grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Other sponsors of the project include The Fitzpatrick Trust, The Feigenbaum Foundation, Berkshire Bank Foundation, Housatonic Heritage, and several private donors.


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