BRAINworks in Berkshire County: Increasing Creative Capacity Through Arts Integration

April 23, 2021

NORTH ADAMS, MA—The Berkshire Regional Arts Integration Network (BRAINworks) is releasing the publication, BRAINworks: Increasing Creative Capacity Through Arts Integration in Berkshire County, detailing the work to cultivate creative capacity in Berkshire County.  

BRAINworks is a grant-funded program supported by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Innovation and Improvement, and led by Dr. Lisa Donovan, Professor of Arts Management at MCLA, and Dr. Kimberly Roberts-Morandi, Assistant Superintendent of North Adams Public Schools. Over the last four years the partnership between the district and the college has allowed BRAINworks to provide professional development workshops focused on arts integration for educators across Berkshire County. These workshops, offered in collaboration with area arts and cultural organizations, provide strategies and support for integrating the arts into their classroom curriculum. “The collaboration between educators, higher education, and the cultural organizations of Berkshire County has led to the creation of innovative instruction and learning experiences. It has also created an awareness among educators of the arts as major economic contributor to our region and the variety of career opportunities for our students,” said Dr. Barbara Malkas, Superintendent of North Adams Public Schools. 

The publication defines arts integration and demonstrates the BRAINworks model and its successful outcomes. It also provides an overview of curriculum created by participating BRAINworks teachers that has been inspired by their learning in workshops they attended. “Over the last four years we’ve developed a significant body of work that includes protocols for understanding the rigor of learning that can unfold during the creative process. Our goal is to share these promising practices with the field so that we can continue to share the power of arts integration across Berkshire County and beyond,” Donovan notes. 

“BRAINworks is a great example of the way MCLA works with other educational institutions in the Berkshires. BRAINworks has offered valuable opportunities for educators to integrate the arts into their classrooms and has helped introduce countless students to the Berkshires’ arts and culture resources,” said MCLA President James F. Birge. “This new publication will help other educators in new locations adapt their own strategies for arts integration and collaboration.” 

This publication represents the culmination of four years of work in this program and illustrates how this model can be further implemented and scaled to reach all Berkshire County public school districts. As of April 12, 2021, the publication is available on the BRAINworks website 

About BRAINworks:                                                                   

Berkshire Regional Arts Integration Network (BRAINworks) is a collaboration between the North Adams Public Schools and the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts’ Arts Management Program. The initiative offers professional development and support to Berkshire County educators’ integration of the arts to engage all students and enrich academic offerings.