CCS Bard and its Hessel Museum will benefit from a $25-million gift from the Marieluise Hessel Foundation. Photo: CCS Bard

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Hessel donates to CCS Bard; BCC launches Culinary Institute; Berkshire Agricultural Ventures awards grants; news from Greylock, Salisbury Bank

Berkshire Community College announces a major change in its hospitality and culinary programs with the introduction of the Berkshire Culinary Institute.

Marieluise Hessel Foundation donates $25M to Bard’s Curatorial Studies Program

ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. — The Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College (CCS Bard) recently announced the creation of a $50-million endowment, comprising a $25-million gift from the Marieluise Hessel Foundation and a matching commitment of $25 million from George Soros as part of Bard College’s transformational $1-billion endowment drive. Established in 1990, CCS Bard is the first institution of its kind in the United States dedicated exclusively to curatorial studies, an interdisciplinary field exploring the historical, intellectual, and social conditions that inform contemporary art exhibition-making and practice. This unprecedented donation, initiated by the Hessel Foundation in honor of CCS Bard’s 30th anniversary, enables CCS Bard to continue its work in perpetuity.

Marieluise Hessel
Marieluise Hessel. Photo: Kristine Larsen courtesy CCS Bard

The Hessel Foundation gift builds on over three decades of support from CCS Bard Co-Founder Marieluise Hessel. In the late 1980s, the Foundation entrusted its growing collection of contemporary art to Bard for the exclusive use of its students and faculty, laying the groundwork for the creation of CCS Bard in 1990. Since that time, the Foundation has been an enduring supporter, with transformational gifts including the construction of the Hessel Museum of Art in 2006 and the expansion of the library, special collections, and archives in 2015, alongside annual operating contributions that have inspired others to support the institution. Its collection, which forms the cornerstone of CCS Bard’s master’s program and the basis for many of its exhibitions, has grown to encompass approximately 2,000 works of art and is today considered to be among the most important collections of contemporary art on a university campus. Support from the Foundation has also enabled CCS Bard to provide 90% of incoming students with financial aid.

“For the past 30 years, CCS Bard has had an outsized impact within the art world,” said Hessel. “I know that this program will continue to lead the way in finding new stories to tell, artists to champion, and boundaries to push.”

In celebration of its 30th anniversary, CCS Bard is currently presenting two exhibitions that draw significantly from the Marieluise Hessel Collection: “Closer to Life: Drawings and Works on Paper in the Marieluise Hessel Collection” comprises more than 75 works on paper and drawings collected by Hessel over the course of more than four decades to explore the artistic intimacy achieved by the medium; and “With Pleasure: Pattern and Decoration in American Art 1972–1985,” the first large-scale North American survey of the groundbreaking women-led Pattern and Decoration movement of the 1970s and 1980s, showcasing major works from the Collection alongside significant loans to trace the movement’s reach in postwar American art.

In addition, this fall CCS Bard will publish the first comprehensive publication on the Marieluise Hessel Collection, examining the impact of the collection on CCS Bard students through original writing from CCS alumni including Cecilia Alemani, Ruba Katrib, Sohrab Mohebbi, Serubiri Moses, and Gabi Ngcobo, among many others.


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Berkshire Community College announces the Berkshire Culinary Institute

Berkshire Community College’s Pittsfield campus. Photo courtesy BCC

PITTSFIELDBerkshire Community College (BCC) announces a major change in its hospitality and culinary programs with the introduction of the Berkshire Culinary Institute, created over the past year as the programs emerge from a hiatus during the pandemic. The Berkshire Culinary Institute is supported by a $400,000 grant recently awarded by the Massachusetts Skills Capital Grant Program, which encourages individuals to develop the skills necessary to meet the varying hiring needs of employers in the Commonwealth.

Two Berkshire County businesses, Mill Town and Currency Coffee, have also pledged support to BCC’s new program. Mill Town will employ four interns from BCC for three years, while Currency Coffee has agreed to provide equipment and consulting services.

The capital grant will finance a host of new equipment, which will replace all equipment in the former teaching kitchen and transform it into a specialty bake shop. Construction at the college has also begun to transform a large portion of the former cafeteria into the new culinary space. This combined footprint will allow room for catering preparation, cooking labs, and classrooms, which will be available to both students and the community for events and workshops. Class sizes will be small, averaging about 15 students per class.

Image courtesy BCC

“The Berkshire Culinary Institute will offer post-high school culinary training to complement the successful online Fast-Track Hospitality & Culinary program and new degree programs,” said Jay Baver, director of workforce development – Hospitality. “It will serve as a state-of-the-art facility that trains head chefs, cooks, bakers, and other food specialists, an industry growing at a rate faster in the Berkshires than the national average.”

Additional support for the program is provided by Miraval Berkshires Resort & Spa, Canyon Ranch, Hillcrest Educational Centers, Life House, McNinch Restaurant Group, and Main Street Hospitality.

A Variety of Academic Options

BCC’s culinary program is part of the combined Hospitality and Tourism Management and Culinary Arts Management programs, which offer associate degrees, as well as certifications in Lodging Management, Culinary Arts Management, and Food and Beverage Management.

For-credit culinary courses for the fall 2021 semester include Culinary Foundations I, Culinary Foundations II, Fundamentals of Baking, and Cold Food Operations. Hospitality courses include Hospitality and Tourism Perspectives; Hospitality HR, Law and Ethics; Wine Appreciation; and Food and Beverage Management. The next non-credit Fast-Track Hospitality & Culinary program, due to launch in September, will be offered to Spanish speakers who want to learn English and receive professional culinary and hospitality training.

Career paths emphasized in BCC’s hospitality and culinary programs include cooks, chefs, event managers, food and beverage managers, front desk supervisors, innkeepers, and general managers.

Financial assistance is available for applicants to the hospitality and culinary programs, including grants, scholarships, loans, and work-study programs. To apply, click here.


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Berkshire Agricultural Ventures distributes grants to assist soil health, climate change

Cynthia Rabinowitz, executive director of Northwest Conservation District, receives a check from Dan Carr of BAV. Photo courtesy BAV

GREAT BARRINGTONBerkshire Agricultural Ventures (BAV) recently announced two new $5,000 grants to farmers in northwestern Connecticut.

Northwest Conservation District (NWCD), part of the Connecticut River Coastal Conservation District, was awarded a $5,000 grant for their Cover Crop Challenge project and workshop geared to educate farmers on cover crop management and benefits. BAV’s grant provides free cover crop seed to participating farmers in Litchfield County. This support also covered the expense of the costly pre-project soil testing and soil health assessment allowing farmers to understand the health status of their soils and the soil improving qualities of the cover crops.

Dan Carr of BAV with Fort Hill owners Rebecca Batchie and Paul Bucciaglia. Photo courtesy BAV

BAV’s Executive Director Glenn Bergman said, “We are so happy to support NWCD’s work in encouraging our farmers to use cover crops, as it not only helps protect our local waterways, but also builds organic matter in the soil which helps sequester carbon from our atmosphere, and improves the farmer’s yields naturally.”

Another $5,000 grant was given to Fort Hill Farm in New Milford, Connecticut for no-till equipment. A no-till system will increase soil health and marketable yield of crops, reduce soil compaction and erosion, and decrease irrigation, compost, and labor costs. BAV’s Outreach and Technical Assistance Coordinator Dan Carr said, “Supporting our region’s innovative lead farmers as they adopt climate change mitigation practices like no-till is one of the highest priorities for BAV.”


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Greylock offers free financial literacy for local classrooms

PITTSFIELDGreylock Federal Credit Union reminds families and teachers that Greylock provides free access to Banzai, an online financial literacy program. This cutting-edge program integrates interactive classroom materials with professional presentations to develop personal finance skills.

The award-winning online program and content library allows students to learn by doing. All students, teachers, and members in Berkshire County, Westfield, Southwick, Granville, Montgomery, and Russell, Massachusetts and Columbia County, New York can create a free online account.

Through the Banzai online courses and complimentary lesson plans, students may practice managing a budget, saving for a goal, and dealing with unexpected financial pitfalls. Teachers are able to easily monitor and grade student progress remotely. Other resources include articles, calculators, coaching sessions, and customized classroom wrap-up Zoom sessions with Greylock experts. These tools cover everything from the basics of filing your taxes to how health insurance works. Teachers can learn more and access these classroom resources here. Members can access the tools directly through Greylock’s Community Empowerment Center.


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Salisbury Bank announces 2021 graduates of Leadership Development Program

LAKEVILLE, Conn. Salisbury Bank announces five recent graduates of their Leadership Development Program. The program was launched in 2019 to provide an opportunity for bank personnel to develop leadership skills designed to enhance their performance and potential. Areas of focus include initiative, collaboration, accountability, effective communication, and strategy.

Recent graduates of the Leadership Development Program:

  • Kevin Bennett, Vice President, Commercial Loan Officer
  • Stacey Curtis, Vice President, Branch Administrator and Newburgh Branch Manager
  • Kim Downey, CTFA, Vice President, Senior Fiduciary Officer
  • Megan Gawel, Vice President, Retail Operations Officer and Reg O Officer
  • Amanda Lidstone, CRCM, CAFP, Vice President, Risk Management Officer and Privacy Officer