The Mahaiwe will see upgrades with a grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund

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GREAT BARRINGTON — After over a decade since reopening, the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center is looking at some upgrades.

And the theater will have help in the form of a $65,000 grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund.

"It's our fourth grant," said Mahaiwe Executive Director Beryl Jolly. "The fund has been invaluable since the theater was restored 12 years ago."

The fund is a Massachusetts initiative for public and private investment in cultural facilities across the commonwealth. MassDevelopment and the Massachusetts Cultural Council collaborate to run the fund's programming. MassDevelopment handles the funding and grant decisions. The council manages the grant review process.

The fund was created in 2007 as part of a commonwealth stimulus package. In the decade since the fund was created it has dispensed over $100 million to cultural facilities in the state.

"We appreciate the support of the community and state," Jolly said.

The funding is part of $130,000 that the theater will need to take on a few different projects, Jolly said.

First up is the lower promenade. After years of foot traffic — some half a million pairs of shoes — the theater is redoing the promenade from the carpeting up. Wherever possible the Mahaiwe will replace old bulbs with LED lights in an effort to lessen the theater's environmental impact.

One of the most often asked after additions to the space, a bar, is still a ways off.

"We continue to talk about it," said Jolly, "but we have space restrictions."

The venue's sound equipment will see improvement as well. The theater has been attracting better artists, but with the increase in performer quality comes the necessary upgrades on the stars' riders. Rather than continue to rent the necessary hardware, Jolly said, the theater will keep better equipment in house.

Mahaiwe is looking to a packed summer, with performances by the Beach Boys, Judy Collins, Pink Martini and more. On July 30, the theater will present its annual gala, featuring Wynton Marsalis with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra.

The Mahaiwe is open year-round, Jolly added, and that would only be possible with the support of the community and the commonwealth.

"We are a tremendously rich and creative county," she said. "The Berkshires is a national treasure."

Reach staff writer Eoin Higgins at 413-496-6236 or @BE_EoinHiggins.

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