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Cultural Facilities Fund Helps Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts Explore Performance Center Renovation

April 28, 2014


Kelsey Abbruzzese, MassDevelopment, 617-330-2086 & 617-448-9077 (cell)
Greg Liakos, Mass. Cultural Council, 617-858-2720
Bernadette Lupo, MCLA, 413-662-5203

MassDevelopment and the Massachusetts Cultural Council have provided a $30,000 grant to Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) in North Adams. The College is using grant funds to determine renovation and upgrade options at the MCLA Church Street Center, the College’s main public performance venue. The layout, staging, lighting, windows, sound, projection, acoustics, and HVAC systems fall short of the needs of a modern performance center, and MCLA hopes to make the Center a more attractive, comfortable, and welcoming venue, as well as more adaptable and functional.

“The MCLA Church Street Center provides the College and the northern Berkshires with a central venue for music, dance, theater, and spoken word,” said MassDevelopment President and CEO Marty Jones. “We are pleased to provide this grant for MCLA to evaluate its effectiveness and develop plans to ensure the Center’s continued service to the community.”

Founded in 1894, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts is the Commonwealth’s public liberal arts college and a campus of the Massachusetts state university system. MCLA serves 1,600 undergraduate students, and 200 graduate students. The 19,112-square-foot MCLA Church Street Center serves a wide range of art and community needs.

At the college level, the Center is the main presenting venue for the “MCLA Presents!” performance series, an annual multidisciplinary performance program. Its other uses include serving as the venue for the College’s long-term speaker offerings; such as the Hardman Lecture Series, which brings prominent journalists to campus; and the Michael S. and Kitty Dukakis Public Policy Lecture, which complements MCLA’s major in political science and public policy.

As a community resource, the Church Street Center showcases the Shakespeare in the Courts program, the North Adams Martin Luther King Day annual events, Berkshire Idol, Berkshire Art and Technology Charter School events, and McCann Vocational High School’s graduation ceremonies and school plays.

James Stakenas, vice president of administration and finance at MCLA, said the College is grateful to MassDevelopment and the Massachusetts Cultural Council for providing this funding, which will pave the way for the necessary work to be done at the Center.

“Our MCLA Church Street Center is used for a wide variety of campus events and also serves as a major gathering place for the greater community as we bring a wide variety of events – such as performances, speakers, and more – to edify and entertain not only our students, but the public,” Stakenas said. “We are thrilled to begin the process to modernize this important Center.”

MassDevelopment and the Massachusetts Cultural Council administer the Cultural Facilities Fund, an initiative of the Commonwealth to increase public and private investment in cultural facilities throughout the state. Created by the Massachusetts Legislature in 2006, the Fund offers capital, feasibility, technical assistance, and systems replacement grants for eligible nonprofits engaged in the arts, humanities, or interpretive sciences. The Fund has awarded more than $55 million in grants to cultural organizations across Massachusetts. For more information, visit the MassDevelopment and Massachusetts Cultural Council websites.

MassDevelopment, the state’s finance and development agency, works with businesses, nonprofits, financial institutions, and communities to stimulate economic growth across the Commonwealth. During FY2013, MassDevelopment financed or managed 350 projects generating investment of more than $2.4 billion in the Massachusetts economy. These projects are projected to create more than 7,000 jobs and build or rehabilitate 800 residential units.

The Hardman Lecture Series at MCLA is made possible by the generosity of the Hardman Family Endowment, and The Michael S. and Kitty Dukakis Public Policy Lecture series is made possible through the generosity of the Ruth Proud Charitable Trust.