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BUSINESS BRIEFS: BIFF wraps 18th year; Hancock Shaker Village celebrates Shaker stamps; Announcing formation of Seeing Rainbows; Berkshire Museum renovations; Fairview lab draw station moves; GBPT names board chair; MountainOne promotes Seth Shepard; Kids 4 Harmony student accomplishments; Massachusetts Small Business Development Center webinars

With over 1000 film submissions this year, the Berkshire International Film Festival has quickly become a destination festival that filmmakers seek due to the enthusiastic audiences it attracts.

Berkshire International Film Festival wraps 18th year 

Great Barrington— The Berkshire International Film Festival wrapped it’s 18 year in spectacular fashion with luminaries such as James Ivory, Fred Hechinger, Billy Zane, Sheila Nevins, Barbara Kopple, and the director and producers from the closing night film, as well as 40 filmmakers in attendance and hundreds of film lovers. BIFF patrons watched films in-person at the newly renovated Triplex Cinema, The Mahaiwe, and at the Lenox Town Hall.

In the Juried Narrative category the film, “Ghostlight,” directed by Kelly O’Sullivan and Alex Thompson, was awarded the top prize. The cast from the film was in attendance to receive the award. The film is being distributed by IFC, and is set to release in a few weeks.

In the Juried Documentary category, the winner was “The Cowboy and the Queen,” directed by Andrea Nevins. Nevins was not in attendance but wrote “We couldn’t have been more honored to just have a spot in your lineup of beautiful films, but to be spotlighted by all of you with this extraordinary award brought tears to our eyes. Thank you for seeing and hearing Monty’s quiet message of kindness.  We hope this lovely honor helps it to spread. I know Monty will agree. So thank you again, we are over the moon!”

The Audience Award Winner for narrative features also went to “Ghostlight.” The Audience Award Winner for favorite documentary film was “Unbroken,” directed by Beth Lane. The Audience Award winner for narrative short went to “Doomscroll,” directed by Mikey Riva, Jr. The Audience Award winner for documentary short was awarded to “Ten Times Better,” directed by Jennifer Rita Lin. Honorable mention is awarded to the narrative short “The Bell,” directed by Douglas Philip Gordon.

The winner of the 14th annual Berkshire Bank “Next Great Filmmaker Award” was presented to the short film “Break/Fix.” The film was directed by Liliana Tandon who was in attendance.

18th annual Berkshire International Film Festival. Courtesy BIFF.

The BIFF honored the legendary Oscar Award-winning screenwriter and director, James Ivory. The documentary film “Merchant Ivory” was screened, followed by director Stephen Soucey and James Ivory in conversation with WAMC’s Joe Donahue.

BIFF proudly presented the fourteenth annual Filmmakers Summit, a two-day industry summit offered to the 2024 film selection filmmakers. A diverse, multi-dimensional program of panel discussions, lectures, and special events led by known industry professionals, the BIFF Filmmakers Summit is designed to celebrate and support the advancement of filmmakers and recognize film as a relevant and important medium.

With over 1000 film submissions this year, the Berkshire International Film Festival has quickly become a destination festival that filmmakers seek due to the enthusiastic audiences it attracts. BIFF 2025 will be held May 29th through June 1st, 2025; submissions will open October 1st,  2024.

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Hancock Shaker Village celebrates Shaker design on new commemorative stamps 

Hancock— Hancock Shaker Village is delighted to announce it has been selected as the host site for the launch of a special line of commemorative Shaker design stamps on June 20th from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

The U.S. Postal Service will issue Shaker design stamps to coincide with the 250th anniversary of the arrival of the Shakers in America. The set of 12 stamps celebrates the refined, timeless beauty of Shaker design and features photographs of items that highlight its core elements: simplicity and utility. The stamps feature images taken at Hancock Shaker Village and other historic Shaker sites across the United States. 

In conjunction with the USPS First Day of Issue celebrations, Hancock Shaker Village will host a variety of activities throughout the Village featuring programs for all ages including postcard-making crafts, a stamp scavenger hunt, a pop-up bar with specialty beverages, lectures, tours, special exhibits, and other farm activities. 

The 12 stamps will be on display in the Round Stone Barn along with a pop-up shop where the stamps will be available for sale.

“It’s an honor to be selected by USPS as the host site for the Shaker Design stamp launch,” said Carrie Holland, Director & CEO Hancock Shaker Village. “These stamps pay tribute to the unique nature of Shaker design and its place in Americana, and we invite the whole community to celebrate this special day for the Pittsfield and the Shaker community with free admission to the Village on June 20th.” 

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Announcing the formation of Seeing Rainbows, a new, 100% Trans-led arts organization in the Berkshires

Pittsfield— A new star coalesces in the glittering firmament of Berkshire cultural organizations. Seeing Rainbows, Inc. — a corporation awaiting 501(c)3 status — has begun operations to “collaborate to build sustainable and supportive trans community by producing and presenting liberating art, performances, installations and other experiences by and for queer / trans / Jewish / BIPOC / disabled / fat / other marginalized persons, on unceded Mohican lands and the Berkshires and beyond…” This mission statement encapsulates the organization’s core goal of centering anti-racist inclusion at every step of the artistic process, from incubation and curation to planning and execution.

The entire board serves simultaneously as the staff of the organization to ensure no one is in a hierarchical position of power over anyone else. The programming, as a result, emerges from the people within the organization, as well as their interactions with the broader community. As described by co-founder and one of the five founding directors, Joey Thompson: “Seeing Rainbows will be a starting path for us locally to build community, starting with what we have in ourselves.”

At launch, Seeing Rainbows will offer salons, parties, and hikes.The organization has partnered with The Foundry in West Stockbridge, who will host the first Salon on Wednesday, June 12th at 11 a.m. It will be a pay-what-you-can event, and no one will be turned away for lack of funds.

“Keeping things financially accessible is one of the core principles of Seeing Rainbows, so wherever possible, our events will be pay-what-you-can / NOTAFLOF,” says co-founder and director, Maayan Nuri Héd, using an acronym for the phrase “no-one-turned-away-for-lack-of-funds,” which will be a core accessibility feature of the new organization’s programming. Ms. Héd says regarding the Salon program, “It’s hard to describe if you haven’t participated before. Think one part workshop, one part community hangout, one part transcendent spiritual experience, one part performance. Maybe. Salon is different every time — because salon is emergence in action. Come prepared to create, to share, but most of all, to listen.”

Seeing Rainbows.

“Seeing Rainbows works to bring that childlike comfort, wonder, and excitement of seeing a rainbow to the trans community,” says co-founder and director Cypress Gallagher. “We aim to bridge the gap between the marginalized and mainstream of society. I do my best to be as loudly and visibly queer so others feel comfortable to explore and share their own true selves with the world. People are so much more than the boxes society breaks us down into.”

“Innovation often starts with art,” says Ephraim Alexander Schwartz, co-founder and director. “One of our earliest recorded dreams of landing on the moon is visited around 175 BCE in a satire of Homer’s Odyssey — literally a ship sailing its way into space. When conventional solutions fail to bring us what we need, sometimes we need an approach closer to da Vinci’s rather than Steve Jobs’.”

Mr. Thompson says, “Seeing Rainbows was created by people who belong to different marginalized communities, and this makes me hopeful, because these people have a better understanding of multiple problems that society faces, so we are better equipped to come up with ideas on how to combat them.”

Seeing Rainbows has filed an application with the IRS for 501(c)3 non-profit status, and expects a determination by the end of this calendar year. In the interim, the organization is a fiscally sponsored project of the Berkshire Stonewall Community Coalition. The nascent organization has launched a presence on Facebook, Instagram, and other web presences. At the Foundry’s LGBTQ+ Pride Month Kickoff Celebration on June 1st, the organization informally announced its birth and the unprepared audience came forth with nearly $200 in donations on the spot, in partial support of the organization’s website launch at seeingrainbows.org. Questions may be directed to the board and staff at always.seeing.rainbows@gmail.com.

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Berkshire Museum to break ground on renovations

Pittsfield— Berkshire Museum is set to move forward with a transformative renovation of its renowned Aquarium and the entirety of the main floor galleries beginning in October 2024. It comes after unanimous approval by its Board of Trustees in April.

“Our visitors from near and far have a deep love for our aquarium. We are thrilled to begin this construction which will move the aquarium to the main floor, not only doubling its square footage, but interweaving our “living exhibition” with updated gallery spaces that blend our vast collections of art, science, and history pieces.”

This project is done in collaboration with Design Architect Yo ichiro Hakomori of StudioHAU, based in Los Angeles, along with Architect of Record, Bradley Architects Inc., and Construction Manager at Risk, David J. Tierney Jr. Inc, both based out of Pittsfield. The Owner’s Project Manager for Development and Construction is Skanska, based out of Manhattan.

Courtesy Berkshire Museum.

The updated aquarium will become a centerpiece of the museum’s main floor. Through a thoughtful design and innovative presentation, the new aquarium will serve as an exciting educational resource, offering visitors of all ages the opportunity to engage with and learn about diverse aquatic and terrestrial species, including new species such as Moon jellyfish.

Berkshire Museum will continue to update the community on this project regularly, with the most up-to-date information available at berkshiremuseum.org/construction.

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Fairview lab draw station moves to ground floor

Great Barrington— Berkshire Health Systems has announced that the laboratory blood draw station at Fairview Hospital, called the Laboratory Patient Service Center (PSC), has been moved to the ground floor of the hospital. The relocation to the former medical records space puts the PSC closer to the main entrance of the hospital, making it more convenient for the over 16,000 patients who use it each year.

“The new area is designed to enhance patient privacy and patient comfort,” according to Kathy Lavinio, Outreach Manager for Laboratory Services at BHS. “Located in the area that was previously Medical Records, patients no longer navigate an elevator and wait in the hallway for service. Now patients arrive at a waiting area that is spacious and light and receive care in one of two private bays.”

Berkshire Health Systems Fairview Hospital.

The project took over a year to complete, from planning and relocation of medical records to design and renovation, in compliance with regulatory standards. The PSC opened on April 29th, ahead of schedule, thanks to tremendous teamwork and collaboration of the project leaders, noted Lavinio.

Patient response to the relocation has been very positive, with patients citing easier access for their blood draws.

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Great Barrington Public Theater names Susie Weekes Roeder board chair

Great Barrington— Great Barrington Public Theater is pleased to announce that longtime supporter and board member Susie Weekes Roeder has been named board chair. She brings multi-talented experience as a nonprofit board member with special emphasis on development and has a record of achievement as a key action-oriented team player.

“Susie has been with Great Barrington Public Theater since our inception. Not only is she one of our greatest champions, she is also incredibly beloved by the Great Barrington community,” company founder Deann Simmons Halper explains. “I can think of no one better to lead the board and the company on to our next phase of growth.

“She has become kind of a North Star for us,” company co-founder and Artistic Director Jim Frangione agrees. “Susie’s willingness to jump in and do the work and her creativity at event and organizational management play a big part in our continuing success.”

Susie Weekes Roeder. Courtesy GBPT.

Weekes Roeder is familiar and respected throughout the Berkshires. In her dozen years on the board of Construct, the leading nonprofit provider of affordable housing and supportive services to residents in fifteen towns across the southern Berkshires, Weekes Roeder solidified a professional donor database, and was instrumental in multiple creative fundraising events that raised visibility and made direct connections and impact on Berkshire communities.

Prior to moving to the Berkshires from Washington DC more the twenty years ago, she worked with funding sources to raise 18 million dollars capital for the Lab School. Following graduation from Suffolk University with a Master’s Degree in Media in Philanthropy, Weekes Roeder traveled to South Africa, the Dominican Republic, China, and throughout the United States with film crews capturing the stories of clients served by various organizations, producing video for organizations such as USAID, Helen Keller International, The Giving Back Catalog, Berkana, Blue Rider Stables, Sinocizo, and Construct. She later founded the Indwe Learning Center in South Africa, a Montessori School for children who lost parents to AIDS.

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MountainOne Investments promotes Seth Shepard to Financial Advisor

North Adams— MountainOne is pleased to announce that Seth Shepard has been promoted to financial advisor.

In this role, Shepard determines a client’s financial objectives, offers strategic advice on products and services to meet client goals, and manages client assets through portfolio design and retirement solutions. Shepard’s focus is on asset management, portfolio management, retirement planning, and college education planning.

Seth Shepard. Courtesy MountainOne.

Shepard has been with MountainOne Investments since 2022, most recently as a paraplanner. Shepard is a proud member of MountainOne’s Communications Committee and previously served on the MountainOne 175th Celebration Committee. Prior to joining MountainOne Investments, Shepard was an account manager with Girardi Distributors in Pittsfield, and a football coach at Mount Ida College in Newton. Shepard holds a Bachelor of Science degree in coaching and event operations from Johnson & Wales University.

“It’s a pleasure to announce Seth’s promotion to financial advisor,” said Kevin Dupuis, vice president, operations manager with MountainOne Investments. “He is a dedicated professional whose knowledge and interpersonal skills are ideally suited to this pivotal role within our organization.”

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18 Degrees Kids 4 Harmony student accomplishments

Berkshire— Ethan Maisonneuve, Gina Bocchino, Lisa Chen, and Davis Albayeros of Kids 4 Harmony will attend the Youth Orchestra Los Angeles National Festival, an intensive summer orchestra program focused on rigorous artistic development, in July.

Additionally, Albayeros was accepted to the Youth Orchestra Los Angeles National Institute (YNI), an in-depth training program for young musicians interested in pursuing artistic growth and professional development. 

This month, K4H students Jason Sosa and Lisa Chen will join a cohort of other young musicians from around the country in Indianapolis as part of the El Sistema USA Youth Ambassador Program. The invitation to attend was also extended to two of our middle school students, Isabella Cortez-Mendez and Bailey Manley. 

Atlas Lescarbeau, Lisa Chen and Zoë-Ruth Brizan auditioned and were selected to join the Western Massachusetts Senior District Festival.

18 Degrees Kids 4 Harmony.

18 Degrees will be hosting the Kids 4 Harmony Annual Summer Concert Gala on June 25th at 5:30 p.m. at Tanglewood. The evening will showcase and celebrate the achievements of the musicians. 

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Massachusetts Small Business Development Center hosts ‘How to Start a Business’ webinar series

Massachusetts— Massachusetts Small Business Development Center hosts ‘How to Start a Business,’ a three-part series designed to provide you with an overview of the information and tools needed to evaluate and develop a new business idea.

“Your First Session 101” is on Thursday, June 20th from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. During this 90-minute interactive, no-cost webinar, you will learn the essential elements of a successful venture to help demystify the secrets behind owning and operating your own business. You will learn the basics like accounting, marketing, branding, as well as some of the legal pitfalls facing business owners. Register online. 

“Leveraging Low-Cost Technology to Boost Your Business Operations” is on Thursday, June 27th from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. During this 60-minute interactive, no-cost webinar, discover innovative ways to enhance your small business operations with our presentation on low- to no-cost technology solutions. Learn how leveraging affordable tech tools can streamline processes, boost productivity, and maximize efficiency without breaking the bank. Register online. 

“Tech Talks with Rob” is on Wednesday, July 3rd from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. This enlightening, no-cost webinar series is designed specifically for small business owners who want to navigate the complex world of technology. Rob will delve into critical topics essential for running a modern business in the digital age. Topics will include: Professional Email Systems, Cybersecurity, Password Managers, SEO, Domains and Web Hosting; and POS Systems. Register online. 

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The Edge Is Free To Read.

But Not To Produce.