'Optimal' Opportunity


Students from around the world and across the country once again have gathered at MCLA to experience a unique internship in the business of the arts. In its seventh year, the Berkshire Hill Internship Program - otherwise known as B-HIP - educates tomorrow's arts managers at cultural venues throughout Berkshire County.

"It has been great to see B-HIP grow from a fledging endeavor to the successful program it is now," said Jonathan Secor, director of special programs at MCLA. "B-HIP alumni work at almost every cultural institution in the Berkshires and at other art organizations around the world."

This year's group of 14 interns includes three from Iowa, as well as interns from Singapore and Poland. Two are MCLA students.

Since she arrived in North Adams last month, Francesca DeBiaso of Washington, D.C., has been hard at work on the DownStreet Art (DSA) initiative. The experience, she said, is shaping her education and career. As the program coordinator, she is the "go-to" person for all things DSA.

Thus far, she's worked to organize a variety of events, has been in contact with many of the artists and curators, has reached out to local businesses, written and edited press releases, worked with muralists and has been involved with the season's marketing efforts - just to name a few activities.

"B-HIP is a launching pad for me to graduate from and to enter the career force in the arts with an in-depth, empowering understanding of how arts management/administration functions," DeBiaso said.

She would one day like to create a program that fosters the relationship between communities and their arts resources.

"B-HIP was the perfect choice for me and the optimal opportunity for me to receive an introduction into the world of art as a living, breathing, evolving organism," DeBiaso said.

Shao Chia of Singapore found B-HIP on the Internet shortly after he completed his master's degree. He felt the program would be an "extraordinary" opportunity to broaden his knowledge and experiences.

"I am very keen on learning about the impact arts have on the greater society," Chia said. "My internship with Berkshire Creative so far has proven to be very informative and is starting to shape some of my own thoughts about the economy and arts, and the potential role it might play."

Chia has been learning the intricacies within the creative economy.

"I've been writing up a marketing profile and learning more about what Berkshire Creative does for the entire County in terms of creating connections and opportunities for organizations," he explained. "I have really enjoyed my time here so far, and I am looking forward to working on upcoming projects like the Berkshire Audience Initiative."

MCLA student Lauren Sottile '12 of New Hartford, Conn., is at the Kidspace gallery, located inside Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA).

"B-HIP is a chance for me to really immerse myself in the field," Sottile said. "I love working at Kidspace!"

Besides helping to prepare a new exhibit for the children's gallery, Sottile's projects have included writing an NEA grant, strategic planning, creating and running DownStreet Art events for the Kidspace-sponsored "Bus Stand" public art piece on Main Street, running the public gallery hours, and coming up with art projects for and helping out at Kidspace's summer art camp.

"It has been so amazing to learn so much about the Berkshires and the City of North Adams throughout my years at MCLA," Sottle said. "I'm so proud to be a part of the art world here."