Chesterwood is one of two locations available for IS183's summer Berkshire Artist Residency. Applications are due April 12. Photo courtesy Chesterwood.

Bits & Bytes: IS183 artist residency applications open; LGBTQ+ virtual town hall; ‘LitNet Presents’ discusses path to citizenship; Change Berkshire Culture launches mutual aid fund

The virtual town hall, held Thursday, March 18, will center the work of LGBTQ+ activists and organizations, and allow MassEquality to listen and learn from the lived experiences of local people.

Applications open for IS183’s Berkshire Artist Residency at Red Lion Inn, Chesterwood

 STOCKBRIDGE — Applications for IS183 Art School’s Berkshire Artist Residency program are now open. Since 2012, IS183 has offered residencies that pair local visual artists with cultural institutions and historic landmarks across the Berkshires. This summer, artists will have the opportunity to apply for a residency at The Red Lion Inn and Chesterwood.

The aim of the Berkshire Artist Residency is to give local artists the opportunity to create new work inspired by their home county. The extended length and flexible hours of the program give artists, who might not have the luxury to attend residencies that pull them away from home for long periods of time, the ability to further their careers and create work in a way that compliments their current practice. The program is supported, in part, by a grant from the Stockbridge Cultural Council, with support from the Mass Cultural Council.

The Summer 2021 program will begin at both locations on May 31 and run through October 11. Selected artists receive access to the buildings and grounds of their site and support for the development, creation, and exhibition of their work. Each artist will receive an honorarium, the opportunity to give an Artist Talk and teach a course through IS183 Art School, and invitations to special events held at their site. Additional benefits, such as meal stipends and studio space, are site specific. Each residency closes with a reception and exhibition of the artist’s work. Applications are due April 12. For more information and to apply, click here.

—A.K.

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MassEquality partners with local LGBTQ+ groups for virtual town hall 

BERKSHIRE COUNTY — MassEquality is partnering with the Live Out Loud Community Conference, Rainbow Seniors of Berkshire County, and the Berkshire Trans Group for a Berkshires Town Hall to explore the needs of the local LGBTQ+ population and amplify the work of local activists and organizations. The virtual forum, held Thursday, March 18 at 7 p.m., is part of a statewide series and will center the work of local LGBTQ+ activists and organizations, while allowing MassEquality to listen and learn from the lived experiences of LGBTQ+ people in the Berkshires. To attend the forum, please register.

Founded in 2014, the Live Out Loud Conference is designed to build community in rural Berkshire County. The Berkshire Trans Group is a peer discussion/empowerment group for people who are trans, non-binary, genderqueer, or gender-questioning. Rainbow Seniors of Berkshire County is a program serving lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender seniors and their allies who age 50 or older, although adults of all generations are welcome to attend the majority of its activities.

“MassEquality seeks to ensure that all 351 cities and towns in Massachusetts are equally welcoming to and safe for members of the LGBTQ+ community regardless of their racial identity, age, gender identity, or ability level. Meeting with members of the community across the Commonwealth will allow us to do a better job of fighting for equality and meeting the needs of the community” said Tanya Neslusan, executive director of MassEquality.

The town hall in the Berkshires is designed to:

  • Introduce MassEquality to the Berkshires LGBTQ+ community
  • Provide the Berkshires LGBTQ+ community a safe space to share their realities and experiences
  • Inform the Berkshire LGBTQ+ community about available statewide resources
  • Identify the unique needs of the REGION LGBTQ+ community

MassEquality seeks to:

  • Identify existing resources available in Berkshires
  • Target and direct statewide resources that can benefit the Berkshires
  • Connect statewide groups to REGION needs and amplify the message of the Berkshires groups
  • Represent the Berkshires LGBTQ+ community’s voice on Beacon Hill and beyond

—A.K.

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“Literacy Network of South Berkshires Presents…” episode to discuss path to citizenship  

LEE — Literacy Network of South Berkshire (LitNet) recently announced the release of “A Path to Citizenship,” the third episode of its new monthly cable TV show “Literacy Network of South Berkshire Presents…”

“A Path to Citizenship” will air on Sunday, March 21 at 1:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. In the episode, LitNet board member and educator Pamela Breslin will host a conversation with four LitNet learners — two who have recently become American citizens and two who are preparing for their citizenship test. The episode will cover the ins and outs of the citizenship process and LitNet’s role in mentoring prospective citizens. It will also cover details concerning how LitNet learners who are working towards becoming U.S. citizens receive educational, financial, and legal support through the Matthew and Hannah Keator Family Scholarship for New Americans.

Past episodes can be found on LitNet’s YouTube channel. Episodes air each Sunday at 1:30 p.m. and 6 p.m., Wednesday at 5:30 p.m., and Saturday at 1:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. Viewers can watch on Spectrum Cable Channel 1302 and the CTSB website.

—A.K.

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Change Berkshire Culture launches mutual aid fund

BERKSHIRE COUNTY — Change Berkshire Culture (CBC) recently launched a mutual aid fund to support financially vulnerable colleagues in the cultural nonprofit industry. The CBC Mutual Aid Fund is a community-based effort to raise and redistribute money to Berkshire culture workers experiencing financial hardship. Gifts of $500 each will be given, without conditions, to help recipients cover housing, healthcare, food, utility, and other immediate expenses. The fund is run by and for Berkshire culture workers, independent of any single institution.

Who should donate? Anyone who loves and wants to support Berkshire cultural institutions, including: trustees, members and donors, seasonal residents and frequent tourists to the Berkshires, culture workers who are still employed, anyone who believes in the mission and purpose of the fund and wants to support Berkshire culture workers.

Who should apply? Any Berkshire cultural worker facing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 crisis is encouraged to apply. Funds are intended for those in most urgent need of assistance with housing, healthcare, groceries, transportation, utilities, and other essential costs. Applicants may include those who have been laid off or furloughed; had hours reduced; had seasonal or freelance opportunities canceled; or whose households have lost a major source of income since March 2020. Recipients do not need to be current residents of Berkshire County. CBC trusts culture workers to self-select in applying.

Applications for funding will open when $5,000 has been raised, a milestone allowing CBC to make a first round of gifts to 10 recipients selected by lottery. Application information is posted on the GoFundMe page and on Change Berkshire Culture’s Instagram and Facebook pages.

Contact cbcmutualaidfund@gmail.com with questions or for more information.

—A.K.