Kate Maguire

Berkshire Theatre Group’s artistic director and CEO Kate Maguire

PITTSFIELD -- The Actors Fund has presented Berkshire Theatre Group’s artistic director and CEO Kate Maguire with the 2020 Encore Award for "demonstrating exemplary compassion and dedication to everyone in the entertainment community who brings the performing arts to our stages and screens."

"This is one of the most meaningful, if not the most meaningful, award (I've) received," Maguire said Friday afternoon by phone. "(In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic) our whole team just kept seeking a way to give our artists work. This award is recognition of that."

This summer, Berkshire Theatre Group became the first theater in the United States to be granted approval from Actors’ Equity Association to produce the musical "Godspell" in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The critically acclaimed, sold-out production was presented outdoors in an open-air tent adjacent to The Colonial Theatre and was extended "due to discipline maintained and respect for safety protocols," the theater said in a news release.

Following the success of "Godspell," BTG was granted approval from Actors’ Equity Association to produce live theater for the second time during the pandemic and is currently presenting Truman Capote’s "Holiday Memories" through Dec. 20 outdoors in the Courtyard at the Unicorn Theatre in Stockbridge.

Founded in 1882, the Actors Fund "... provides a safety net for performing arts and entertainment professionals over their lifespan." The national organization has offices in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.

"Employment in any division of the performing arts and entertainment industry is unpredictable," the Fund says in its mission statement. "Work is erratic, security is fleeting and health insurance is often just a dream. For all of these reasons and many more, The Actors Fund is an indispensable and deeply significant part of the entire entertainment community."

"Personally," Maguire said, "I am in awe of the work (the Actors Fund) has done since the AIDS crisis; the work they continue to do for folks in our industry."

In 2010, Maguire oversaw the merger of two historic organizations: Berkshire Theatre Festival in Stockbridge, where she began in 1995, and The Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, resulting in the creation of Berkshire Theatre Group. She has overseen several transfers of productions from the Berkshires to New York City, most recently "Children of a Lesser God" (Broadway), "The Stone Witch" (Off Broadway), and "Dutch Masters" (Off Broadway), all in 2018.

Maguire's career in theater began as an actress when she was 4 years old in her hometown of Lowell and she continues to perform.

She is a board member and treasurer of the Berkshire Business Roundtable, and a trustee of Berkshire Theatre Group. She's been honored with the Ruth Boraski “She Knows Where She's Going” Award by Girls, Inc in 2014; and the Downtown Pittsfield Inc “Quattrocchi Person of the Year Award” in 2017. and The “Encore Award” by Actors Equity in 2020. She was a nominee for the 2019 Massachusetts Cultural Council Commonwealth Award.

A graduate of Boston College, she lives in Richmond with her husband, director and actor Eric Hill.

Jeffrey Borak can be reached at jborak@berkshireeagle.com or 413-496-6212