Monday, December 22, 2008

Pittsfield wins Commonwealth Award

(Actress Elizabeth Banks, Pittsfield native)

Pittsfield has won the Creative Community Award, one the prestigious Commonwealth Awards, given out by the Massachusetts Cultural Council!

Here are two great articles about the award from the Boston Globe and the Berkshire Eagle:

Banks a lot
By Mark Shanahan and Paysha Rhone
Globe Staff / December 20, 2008

Actress Elizabeth Banks (above) will wing in next month to help present an award to her hometown at the State House. Pittsfield mayor James Ruberto will accept the Creative Community award from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, which yesterday announced the winners of its biennial Commonwealth Awards, the state's highest honors in arts and culture. Other winners include: the Worcester Cultural Coalition, Peabody Essex Museum, the Barbara Lee Family Foundation, the Behrakis Foundation, Louis Casagrande, the Boston Children's Museum, and the Codman Academy Charter Public School. Banks will give the keynote speech at the Jan. 13 awards ceremony. She recently starred in "W" and "Zack and Miri Make a Porno," and just signed a $1 million annual contract to be a spokesmodel for L'Oreal Paris. She joins the glamorous ranks of Beyonce Knowles, Diane Keaton, and Eva Longoria Parker.

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Pittsfield culture wins prestige
By Dick Lindsay, Berkshire Eagle Staff

Thursday, December 18

PITTSFIELD — Pittsfield has joined the likes of cellist Yo-Yo Ma, Shakespeare & Company and Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival as a cultural force in Berkshire County.

The city is receiving one of the six Commonwealth Awards being handed out for 2009 by the Massachusetts Cultural Council. Pittsfield will be honored with the other winners during a ceremony at the Statehouse on Jan. 13.

Actress and Pittsfield native Elizabeth Banks will speak at the event.

"This is really important recognition, showing we are a creative community," said Megan Whilden, Pittsfield's cultural development director. "We've been working in Pittsfield the past five years to promote and grow a cultural community."

That's evident by the revitalization of the Colonial Theatre, the addition of Barrington Stage Company, and the continuing growth of the Berkshire Museum and Hancock Shaker Village, according to Council Executive Director Anita Walker.

"Pittsfield is investing in its natural cultural resources," Walker said. "You can't recreate these things."

Walker said Pittsfield was an unanimous choice out of the 69 nominations in the creative community category. The other categories are creative economy catalyst, leadership, individual achievement creative learning and cultural philanthropy.

Walker said the awards, given every two years, was paired down from 10 categories in order to broaden the nomination process.

Pittsfield joins previous Berkshire winners Yo-Yo Ma, Shakespeare & Co., its founder Tina Packer, Jacob's Pillow, choreographer Marge Champion, Mass MoCA Executive Director Joseph Thompson, and arts patron Jane Fitzpatrick.

While Williamstown to the north and Lenox and Stockbridge to the south have been the mainstays of the Berkshire's cultural community, Whilden said Pittsfield is ready to lead the way.

"By Pittsfield stepping forward, it benefits the rest of the county," Whilden said.
Walker praised both Whilden and Mayor James M. Ruberto for making cultural tourism part of the city's economic development.

"You have a leader who really gets it," said Walker of Ruberto. "Megan's work is exemplar and how it should be done."

Whilden said she's finding more and more people discovering Pittsfield's cultural side, thanks in part to the Third Thursday events. The block party-style events are held each month from May through October.

"People used to skip Pittsfield," Whilden said. "The perception of the city and reality have changed."

1 comment:

Chris Rich said...

It's hard to imagine a more worthy recipient given the tireless effort and genuine dedication.