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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Rebuilding Doris Duke Theatre; Library Director Award; New Nurse Practitioners; Adams Theatre Crowdfunding Success; Arts Pay Equity Initiative; Service Consultant Training Applications; Passport to Downtown Pittsfield; BIPOC-focused Grant Survey

Jacob's Pillow received a $10 Million Gift from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation to rebuild the Doris Duke Theatre, which burned in 2020.
Doris Duke Theatre Grounds circa 2011. Photograph by Cherylynn Tsushima. Image courtesy of Jacob’s Pillow.

Jacob’s Pillow Announces $10M Gift from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation to Build a Reimagined Doris Duke Theatre

Becket— After the tragic loss of the Doris Duke Theatre to a fire in November 2020, Jacob’s Pillow today announces that the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation has awarded a $10 million grant —the largest received in Jacob’s Pillow’s 90-year history—toward the building of a new, reimagined Doris Duke Theatre, slated to open in 2025. The building will maintain the essence of the original Doris Duke Theatre while providing artists access to state-of-the-art technology to create 21st century works.

Doris Duke Theatre Fire. Photo by Megan Burgess. Image courtesy of Jacob’s Pillow.

The new theater/studio is projected to cost $30 million, and will maintain the intimacy of the original theater while at the same time providing a makerspace with a digital foundation for artists seeking to integrate various technologies into live performance or create works that are native to the digital realm. It will restore a second indoor theater space for Jacob’s Pillow’s annual summer Dance Festival alongside the flagship Ted Shawn Theatre, and provide year-round studio space on the Pillow campus, in addition to the Perles Family Studio, which is home to the School at Jacob’s Pillow.

Details about the scope, scale, and features of the new theater will be made available in 2023. Netherlands-based architecture firm Mecanoo, led by their renowned Creative Director and Founding Partner Francine Houben, is serving as the lead architect for the new building project, in partnership with New York-based architecture firm Marvel as the U.S.-based architect of record and landscape designer. Theater, acoustic, and experience consultants Charcoalblue are supporting the project.

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Tamara Gaskell. Image courtesy of

Roeliff Jansen Library Director Tamara Gaskell Receives New York Library Association Award

Copake— Tamara Gaskell, Director of the Roeliff Janssen Community Library, received the 2022 Mary Bobinski Innovative Library Director Award, bestowed by the New York Library Association (NYLA) at its annual conference on November 4.

The award is given annually to a public library director who during the past two years developed or implemented innovative programs leading to an increase in financial support and/or usage of the library. In both 2020 and 2021, under Ms. Gaskell’s leadership, the library issued nearly 300 new library cards, a 50% increase from 2019. Usage of library materials also increased as patrons checked out nearly 20% more items in 2021 than in 2019. Increased usage required increased funding, and Ms. Gaskell actively sought out new sources of funding to support library programs and increased grant funding by 74% since 2019. She also helped win the support, for the first time, of local taxpayers in all three towns in the library’s chartered service area for a modest tax increase in 2021.

The Roeliff Jansen Community Library, serves Ancram, Copake and Hillsdale, and is located at 9091 Rt. 22. For information call 518-325-4101, or visit the library’s website at www.roejanlibrary.org.

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Sophie Jannen. Image courtesy of Community Health Programs.

Community Health Programs Welcomes Family Nurse Practitioners 

Great Barrington— Community Health Programs has expanded its primary care team in Great Barrington and North Adams with the addition of two family nurse practitioners, Dawn Kohanski and Sophie Jannen.

Dawn Kohanski. Image courtesy of Community Health Programs.

Dawn Kohanski, FNP, has worked as a hospitalist nurse practitioner at Berkshire Medical Center, where she coordinated adult acute care in the hospital setting. She also worked as a family nurse practitioner with Columbia Memorial Health in Cairo, N.Y., caring for patients of all ages. During the early months of Covid-19 in 2020, Kohanski also worked as a temporary ICU nurse practitioner at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.

Sophie Jannen, FNP, worked previously as a family nurse practitioner at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center Express Care. As a registered nurse, she also worked at the Berkshire Medical Center Emergency Department and Southwestern Vermont Medical Center. She has also volunteered with youth programs in North Adams and New York and at the Bennington (VT) Free Clinic.

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Two Piano Journey Concert. Photo by Greg Nesbit. Courtesy of The Adams Theatre.

The Adams Theater Surpasses Crowdfunding Goals

Adams— Nearly 300 people helped The Adams Theater celebrate raising $81,854 through its crowdfunding campaign on Friday, November 11, with an open house, events in downtown Adams, and a concert by Two Piano Journey.

The Adams Theater has met its crowdfunding campaign goal, with online donations totaling $65,144 and offline donations totaling $16,710. Contributions will be used to support design, development, engineering, marketing, programming, legal, insurance, and utility expenses to launch the theater’s 2023 season. The Adams Theatre is primarily hiring locally for these positions.

Throughout 2023, The Adams Theater will continue its renovation work, with the goal of becoming a four-season venue. The theater was also recently awarded an $800,000 grant via the Massachusetts Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development’s Community One Stop for Growth Program. The grant provides funding for an electric upgrade to accommodate a flexible sound and lighting system, HVAC upgrades so the theater can be used year-round, a new roof with solar panels, and an accessible new floor.

The theater, along with its team and a newly established Executive Advisory Board and Artistic Advisory Board, will plan two multi-week festivals for 2023 amid the ongoing construction.

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Berkshire/Columbia County Arts Organizations Launch Regional Pay Equity Initiative

Sheffield— A collaboration of arts organizations from Berkshire and Columbia counties are launching a regional pay equity initiative. They are seeking input about how chronic low pay for nonprofit arts professionals perpetuates inequities, contributes to personal and family instability, and is a barrier for participation in the regional arts and culture sector.

The public is asked to help disseminate this link and QR code to a brief survey for current and former entry- and mid-level regional arts and culture workers. The organization hopes to amplify local voices reflecting on how employment functions for cultural employees in the Berkshire/Columbia County region. The survey will be open through December 5th: https://bit.ly/Equitysurvey2022

The results of the survey will be combined with the results of a focus group series and a compensation benchmarking analysis to create a set of sector recommendations and commitments to increase equity. This announcement will be in early 2023.

As of November 2022, the Columbia/Berkshire Counties Compensation Equity Project includes: Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, WAM Theatre, Community Access to the Arts (CATA), Art Omi, Berkshire Art Center (formerly IS183 Art School), and Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival. The Project, funded in part by the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, was launched during the 2021 Multicultural BRIDGE Inclusive Leadership Cohort, and is informed by local and national equity initiatives.

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Photo courtesy Berkshire Community College.

Berkshire Community College Partners with Wayfair for Free Training Program

Pittsfield— The Be Mass Competitive Program (BMCP) is now accepting applications for a specialized training cohort at Berkshire Community College (BCC) and Wayfair in Pittsfield. The joint initiative includes free classes at BCC to learn the skills needed for a service consultant career with Wayfair, as well as professional job coaching throughout training and into employment.

The month-long training at BCC covers computing and communication skills for the workplace and will strengthen participants’ administrative and technical knowledge. Participants will receive stipends during BCC classroom training, plus paid on-the-job training and placement as a Wayfair service consultant at the company’s Pittsfield location.

The application deadline is Monday, December 19. To apply, visit www.masscc.org/bcc-wayfair.

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Passport to Downtown Pittsfield in Small Business Saturday

Pittsfield— Downtown Pittsfield, Inc. will be celebrating Small Business Saturday this year by hosting a Passport to Downtown Pittsfield. To highlight our local businesses, shoppers are invited to shop our bustling district on Saturday, November 26, and by doing so, have the chance to win a Downtown Pittsfield Prize Package!

Pick up your Passport to Downtown Pittsfield at participating businesses on Saturday, November 26. Collect one stamp from every business where you make a purchase, and the more stamps you collect, the greater your chance to win the Downtown Pittsfield Prize Package. Each stamp equals one entry. Extra stamps will be available for those who participate in the Berkshire Running Center/MountainOne Thankful 5K happening on Thanksgiving Day, for shoppers who wear their Thankful Run Beanies while shopping downtown on Saturday, and for those who bring a non-perishable food item or a pair of socks to our Downtown Pittsfield, Inc. booth that day in support of our community donation efforts this holiday season.

For a full list of participating businesses visit downtownpittsfield.com.

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Berkshires Funding Focus (BFF) Prioritizing Support for BIPOC* Businesses, Organizations, and Institutions

Pittsfield— Berkshire Funding Focus, a regional initiative which launched earlier this fall to build capacity of grant seekers throughout the Berkshires, has established a priority to support BIPOC-owned or led businesses, organizations, and institutions, as well as those businesses, organizations, and institutions that provide significant services to BIPOC communities.

To address this, Berkshire Funding Focus is conducting a multi-phase outreach and assessment process to better understand best practices around supporting access to and acquisition of government funding by BIPOC and BIPOC-serving entities.

Outreach will be led by consultant Dr. Emily Williams of ERAC, LLC, assisted by a sub-committee reflecting the BIPOC communities in Berkshire County. The first phase of the assessment involves a brief survey to identify those interested in providing background on the needs and capacities of BIPOC entities in the region, followed by one-on-one discussions with leaders of BIPOC businesses, organizations, and institutions expressing interest in participating. Findings will be shared with the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission, host of Berkshire Funding Focus, and the partner agencies that form the BFF initiative.

The survey can be found with this link. Responses are requested by December 1. Anyone requiring assistance in accessing the survey should contact Dr. Williams at consultant@berkshireplanning.org.

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