Creative Economy Explored in Three Free Panel Discussions


NORTH ADAMS, MASS. — Artists, designers, cultural organizations and for-profit companies are all part of the creative economy - one of Berkshire County's four key economic sectors. Where do you fit? What's the latest in the field? How can we ensure it prospers and expands? Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts' (MCLA) and the Berkshire Cultural Resource Center (BCRC), in cooperation with Berkshire Creative, is proud to present a trio of free Tricks of the Trade sessions that will explore ways to sustain and grow the creative economy.

"The Berkshires have been and continue to be a leader in recognizing the importance of the creative economy. It's an exciting time to look at where we are and how we continue to grow this essential sector of our economy." says Megan Whilden, Director of Cultural Development for the City of Pittsfield and President-elect of Berkshire Creative's Board of Directors.

The March sessions kick off on Tuesday, March 4th at IS183 Art School in Stockbridge, Mass. with "The Creative Economy: Advocacy.” For the creative economy to continue to grow, it needs to be recognized and supported by government at all levels: local, state and national. State Representative Tricia Farley-Bouvier and MassCreative Executive Director Matt Wilson will discuss the importance of making sure our voices are heard and how to be strategic about advocating for resources and policy that benefit artists, arts organizations, designers, creative businesses and more. The discussion will be moderated by Whilden. IS183 Art School is located at 13 Willard Hill Road in Stockbridge.

Wednesday, March 5th, Pittsfield's Lichtenstein Center for the Arts hosts a session entitled "The Creative Economy: Economic Impact.”A recent national study shows that the creative economy has a large economic impact nationally, larger than tourism. Williams College economist Stephen Sheppard, Massachusetts' State Creative Economy Director Helena Fruscio, and Dee Schneidman from the New England Foundation for the Arts talk about current efforts to ensure the creative economy is properly measured through innovative data collection and analysis, and why it's important. The discussion will be moderated by Van Shields, Executive Director of the Berkshire Museum and President of Berkshire Creative.  The Lichtenstein Center for the Arts is located at 28 Renne Avenue in Pittsfield's Upstreet Cultural District.

Thursday, March 6th, the final session on "The Creative Economy: Education & Training” will take place at MCLA's Gallery 51 at 51 Main Street in North Adams, Mass. Like other economic sectors, it's essential that proper workforce development and training is provided for current and future creative economy practitioners, whether they are artists, arts managers, creative businesses or solo practitioners. Four local providers of creative economy training and education talk about the field and where it is going. Moderator Lisa Donovan, author and MCLA arts administration professor is joined by Blair Benjamin from Assets for Artists and MASS MoCA, Hope Sullivan, the Executive Director of IS183 Art School, Diane Pearlman, Executive Director of the Berkshire Film & Media Collaboration, and Dr. Christine Condaris, MCLA Music Professor, and Chair of the Fine and Performing Arts Department.

All Tricks of the Trade session are free and open to the public. In its eighth year of serving the creative community of the Berkshires, Tricks of the Trade is a professional development seminar series for artists and other creative workers that gives them the tools and skills they need to grow and sustain their businesses, be that of a independent artist or musician, a non-profit arts institution, or a fast-growing business that depends on creative minds. Tricks of the Trade is produced by the Berkshire Cultural Resource Center, in collaboration with the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts and IS183 Art School. The series is sponsored by Appelbaum-Kahn and funded by the Massachusetts Cultural Council. The Tricks of the Trade series runs from September until May, with all sessions free and open to the public, and starting at 6 p.m. For more information about this year's Tricks of the Trade series, call the Berkshire Cultural Resource Center at (413) 664 8718.

Press contacts: Megan Whilden, Director of Cultural Development, City of Pittsfield; 413-499-9348; cell: 413-281-7289;
Jonathan Secor, Director of Special Projects, MCLA; 413-664-8718;