In its 10th year, B-HIP shines


Above, DownStreet Art intern Christi Clarke '14 of Adelphi University in Pittsfield for a Third Thursday event. Below, a visit to the Mahaiwe Theatre in Great Barrington, and yoga atop Mt. Greylock.

Soka University student Takashi Kusaka '15 said he came all the way from Japan to participate in the Berkshire Hills Internship Program - better known as B-HIP - because of its "unique program and opportunity that I didn't find around my area."

With the realization that the arts and business are inseparable, Kusaka wants the first-hand work experience and knowledge of arts management that B-HIP provides.

"Experience in B-HIP will be my strength in any company," he said.  Through his internship at the North Adams Office of Tourism and Community Events, "I am learning how art can change the society here."

For the past 10 years and in this 13th session, in addition to drawing MCLA's own arts management students, B-HIP continues to attract students from across the nation and around the world, said Jonathan Secor, director of MCLA's Berkshire Cultural Resource Center (BCRC).

Originally from the Dominican Republic, SUNY-Albany graduate Yukelka "Yuki" Tavera '03, who has taught school in Miami, Fla., is serving an internship at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown. The experience, she said, is imperative as she heads toward the next stage of her career.

"After being in arts education for a decade and also having experienced being a freelance visual artist, I realized my strengths and passion needed wings and a different 'pond,'" Tavera explained. "The past three years or so, I had been actively applying for mid-level museum jobs in programming and education. Although I was getting a call back for an interview, I was not getting hired for the jobs."

In addition to providing an opportunity for in-the-field training outside of the classroom and gallery settings she's accustomed to, B-HIP is opening doors she's not been able to open for herself, Tavera said.

Working with the director of communications at The Clark "is an amazing learning opportunity for me as I have designated marketing and technology as an area I need to develop to be a better arts administrator," Tavera said.

"We continue to attract a broad range of people in different stages of their careers," Secor said. "Yuki has already started her work life. We have other interns where this is their first real time to work. Then there are those who are somewhere in-between."

Rochester Institute of Technology student Nicole LeClair '15 is learning letterpress printing through her internship at the PRESS Gallery.

"Having just completed a typography course at my university, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to learn to set type on PRESS' Vandercook Universal III Proof Press," LeClair said. "I am able to put my marketing classes to good use as I post to our blog and Facebook pages every week, and coordinate my marketing efforts with DownStreet Art."

Katie Wesche '12, a graduate of the University of Georgia, feels her strengths are best suited to an administrative career. But, her alma mater doesn't offer an arts management major.

"I love the arts, especially performing arts," said Wesche, who's serving her internship at The Mount, Edith Wharton's home. "With B-HIP, I can immerse myself in the work of an arts administration employee."

In addition to the hands-on experience, "The class work is actually just as important," Secor said. "It's an opportunity for those who've had the basics, like our own students, to hone what they've learned and put it into more practical learning."

From the Barrington Stage Company's production of "Kiss Me Kate" to a trip to Jacob's Pillow to see choreographer Reggie Wilson's infusion of modern and African dance and to Tanglewood for a concert by the Boston Symphony Orchestra, outings to the Berkshires' cultural venues provide exposure to world-class art in all disciplines, Secor said.

"Opportunities like this really don't exist anywhere else in such a small geographic setting, other than a major urban center. You can see theater, dance and more," he added. "You just can't get that anywhere else."