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February: Art for Social Change


Art for Social ChangePart 1: Art for Social Change I

The future health of our community demands an active role by artists and cultural institutions.  No where has this been more evident locally than in witnessing the economic and social revival of downtown Pittsfield.  This seminar, led by Megan Whilden the driving force behind using art as a means of change in Pittsfield, will explore how local artists and arts institutions can build on the success's of Pittsfield while avoiding some of the failures.

The City of Pittsfield's Office of Cultural Development was created to enhance the city's quality of life and its role as the cultural hub of the Berkshires by promoting, supporting and initiating cultural activities for residents and visitors to Pittsfield. The Director of the Office of Cultural Development, Megan Whilden, works closely with the City's Cultural Development Board and representatives of the city's cultural organizations, individual artists, teachers, and community members to ensure that arts and culture are accessible to all Pittsfield residents.

Megan Whilden is one of the greatest connectors and creators in the Berkshires.  She is one of the true pioneers of the cultural revitalization happening in downtown Pittsfield.  Programs like Artscape and 3rd Thursday not only make art accessible to all, but really use art to bring the whole community together.

Instructor: Megan Whilden, director of Pittsfield's Office of Cultural Development
Date/Time: Tuesday, February 10, 2009; 7-9pm
Location: MCLA's Berkshire Cultural Resource Center (51 Main Street, North Adams, MA) 


Part 2: Art for Social Change II

Art can be used as a force of change- social, political and economical.  We just witnessed how artists and arts institutions can help propel a presidential campaign to victory.   Some do it within the system.  Others like Reverend Billy and his Church of Stop Shopping work on the fringes.

Join us on Wednesday as we talk with the messiah of street action, the crucifier of all that symbolizes over-consumerism and consumption.  Rev. Billy and his partner Savitri will lead this workshop on how one can work towards sustainable consumption, a strong local economy and the defense of the First Amendment and the use of public spaces through performance and other artistic endeavors.

The Church of Stop Shopping is a project of The Immediate Life, a New York based arts organization using theater, humor, and grassroots organizing to advance individuals and communities towards a more equitable future. They partner with citizens, grassroots organizations and progressive visionaries to produce dynamic, informed public campaigns that enact their core values - participatory democracy, ecological sustainability, and the preservation of vibrant communities and local economies.

Since 1996 their project has expanded from a one-man performance artist preaching against consumerism on the sidewalks of Times Square to a 35-person choir and 7-person band with dozens of original songs, a critically acclaimed stage show, a major motion picture and multiple media platforms.

Instructor: Reverend Billy, The Church of Stop Shopping
Date/Time: Wednesday, February 11, 2009; 7-9pm
Location: Storefront Artist Project (124 Fenn Street, Pittsfield, MA)