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Economic Engine

11/23/2011

This past season of DownStreet Art, an initiative of MCLA's Berkshire Cultural Resource Center, again brought about 20,000 people to downtown North Adams to view art, attend gallery openings, see performances and participate in a variety of activities.

But perhaps even more importantly, the MCLA-run initiative helps the City's economy: Art sales continued to grow, increasing this past season by an estimated 25 percent over last year. That's an impressive statistic, especially during this time of economic downturn.

"I attribute it to the quality of the work that was in DownStreet Art, and I attribute it to the work, energy and motivation of the associate gallery managers," said Jonathan Secor, director of special programs at MCLA.

The associate gallery managers were MCLA students majoring in art and arts management - as well as some recent graduates of those programs. Each got some real-world experience as they ran a DownStreet Art gallery. (For more information, go to http://www.mcla.edu/news/managinggalleries_532/)

In addition to MCLA Gallery 51 being a permanent fixture on Main Street, as a result of DownStreet Art, the PRESS, Martha Flood, MAYA IV and NAACO galleries are open all year 'round.

Although the season officially ended last month, on Dec. 1, from 5 to 8 p.m. in the downtown, the College will participate in the third DownStreet Art on Ice. In addition to providing another opportunity to celebrate North Adams art and culture, the event serves to boost the local economy by encouraging people to shop locally.

This year, DownStreet Art on Ice - which is free and open to the public - will feature six exhibition openings, two performances, art deals, the "Artsicle cart," as well as specials at downtown businesses. 

Exhibition openings include "99 and up: Art Mall" at MCLA Gallery 51, 51 Main St.; an installation by MCLA art professor Melanie Mowinski at the PIP Gallery, 53 Main St.; "Patterns and Pressure" at Mowinski's PRESS gallery, 105 Main St.; and an MCLA student show in the window of 109 Main St., which is a preview of work created by some of the students who will graduate from MCLA this spring.

One of MCLA Gallery 51's most popular exhibitions is its annual "99 and up" show.

"It's an opportunity to buy and take home art at an affordable price," Secor said. "It's about shopping locally and supporting the local economy. It supports the artists and the stores. In today's climate, more so than ever, it's important to find ways to keep our dollars in the downtown."

"PRESS: Letterpress as a Public Art " will unveil the new exhibit, "Patterns and Pressure," featuring MCLA student projects printed at PRESS during the fall semester by students in Mowinski's "Intro to Design" and "Concrete Poetry" classes.

The evening's performances include those by the MCLA Allegrettos, the College's a cappella group that has performed throughout the county, as well as on public television. The students will perform traditional songs of the season at different venues throughout downtown the night. 

In addition, the MCLA Jazz Band will perform from 6-7 p.m., at 107 Main St.

For more information, call (413) 664-8718, or go to www.downstreetart.org .