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BWLI Students and Committee

Educating Tomorrow's Leaders

Students advance local creative economy


03/04/2009

World-class museums? Electrifying musical performances? A cascade of autumn colors along the Mohawk Trail? Custom screen-printed shirts? Kids' clothing stores? Restaurants? Coffee? A creative economy initiative encompasses-and celebrates-all of these elements to create a thriving local economy. Here in the Berkshires, MCLA is an essential part of these efforts.

The Creative Economy Initiative, embraced by organizations such as the Berkshires Visitors Bureau and Berkshire Creative and championed by MCLA's Berkshire Cultural Resource Center, uses culture as a launch pad for economic, social and community revitalization. In this context, "culture" means just about every element that makes a place special in the eyes of both residents and visitors. The Creative Economy Initiative draws on the inherent strengths of the Berkshire area-its many cultural institutions, its history of innovation in design and manufacturing, and its tight-knit communities.

Education has also emerged as a key element in the creative economy, and it is here that MCLA also has begun to play a major role. From training emerging cultural leaders to providing professional development for entrepreneurs and artists, the faculty, staff and students of MCLA are enthusiastic participants in this creative economy. MCLA's contributions include:

  • The arts management major and the new studio art major - both of which help to nuture the next generation of arts leaders.
  • Engagement with the local community. Students in the arts management program raised over $3,000 for North Adams Open Studios as part of a grants/fundraising course. Students and alumni of the art program served as apprentices in the Sol LeWitt installation at MASS MoCA, which Time magazine recently named the world's best arts exhibition of 2008 in the U.S.
  • Students also helped to plan DownStreet Art, a community effort that brought 15,000 people to downtown North Adams and unveiled four new gallery spaces, including the North Adams Artists' Cooperative Gallery.
  • The Berkshire Hills Internship Program (B-HIP). This summer, B-HIP boasted interns from a range of institutions, including MCLA, Westfield State College, Merrimack College and the Minneapolis College of Art & Design. Interns were placed at Berkshire Opera, Images Cinema, Kidspace at MASS MoCA and more.

Since the program's pilot year (2005), numerous B-HIP interns are employed in the Berkshires-Monica Henry '06 works for The Clark, Maria Mazzocco '08 works for Community Access to the Arts, Isabelle Holmes '07 works for the '62 Center for Theatre and Dance at Williams College, Rebecca Wehry '08 works for MASS MoCA's development office,  and Mary Domenichelli '08 works for Pittsfield's Office of Cultural Development. Former B-HIP intern Helena Fruscio is now the program director of Berkshire Creative.