Monday, June 24, 2024

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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Ventfort Hall masonry restoration; ‘Let It Shine!’ public art; Glimmerglass trustees and board members; Mahaiwe staff and board; Springfield Museums join Blue Star Initiative; CRM Home Watch accreditation; Bard College receives grant; Berkshire County Historical Society receives grants

Pittsfield masonry contractor H.A. O'Neil was chosen to complete the restoration, chosen for their vast experience working with historic masonry restoration projects and methods.

Ventfort Hall has reached funding goal and started work on masonry restoration project

Lenox— Ventfort Hall is pleased to announce they have reached their funding goal and work has begun on their masonry restoration project.

This project will address urgently needed masonry work to rebuild and restore four chimneys on the east and west sides of the roof ridge. The four massive chimneys each contain multiple conjoined fireplace flues and are ornamented with brick corbelling (staggering) and custom profiled bricks for architectural detail. Many of the bricks on the chimneys have lost their mortar and have begun to dislodge and are currently being caught by temporary netting to prevent falling bricks from causing severe harm to the roof or to patrons on the ground. Should a chimney collapse completely, there is not adequate documentation to replicate the ornate brick details and corbelling to recreate the chimneys.

Ventford Hall. Courtesy Ventfort Hall.

The work will entail disassembling each of the four chimneys down to sound underlying material, rebuilding the bricks to match the historic design and detailing, providing new custom brick to replace units that are too deteriorated for re-use, and fabricating and reinstalling the metal chimney caps.

Pittsfield masonry contractor H.A. O’Neil was chosen to complete the restoration. They were chosen for their vast experience working with historic masonry restoration projects and methods. Hill-Engineers, Architects, Planners Inc. is providing oversight for the project.


‘Let It Shine!’ partnership to unveil most recent public art addition

Pittsfield— On Friday, May 24th at 4 p.m., the ‘Let It Shine!’ partnership will unveil their most recent public art addition to downtown Pittsfield.

The public is invited to attend this celebration, held at 292 North Street outside of the Berkshire Family YMCA. This project is a collaboration between local artists Huck Elling and Marina Dominguez, Morningside Community School, Mill Town Foundation, and MassDevelopment’s TDI. The project culminates in a photographic mural on four large panels that will be displayed on the YMCA on North Street. The murals include playful portraits of 173 students from Morningside Elementary School.

‘Let It Shine!’ partnership.

“The inspiration for this project started with a desire to strengthen connections between people who live here and places we share, through making art with/for our community. We chose the format of black and white photos because the simplicity of the format lets the kids’ personalities shine,” said organizer and local artist Huck Elling. “Our motivation for this collaboration is joy. Our method for achieving this goal is sharing the youthful exuberance of children that make up this community. It’s our hope that their smiles bring you smiles.”

As participant Kamaya, grade two, said, “When people see it, they are going to think we are so beautiful. That is so beautiful.”


Glimmerglass Festival appoints new honorary Life Trustees and Board Members

Cooperstown, N.Y.— The Glimmerglass Festival has announced the appointment of Robert Nelson and Van Broughton Ramsey as the company’s newest Life Trustees. This change to the Festival’s leadership was formalized during the organization’s April board meeting, which also welcomed two new Trustees, Georg O. Budenbender and Tim Lord.

Robert Nelson, who served as Chair of the Festival’s Board of Trustees from 2019 to 2023, brings a wealth of experience to his new role as a Life Trustee. He is a former real estate developer and served as the Vice President and CFO of Michael Novarese, Inc. early in his career, as well as Museum Director for The Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising from 1999 to 2008. Throughout his four-year tenure as Chair, Nelson showcased exceptional leadership during particularly challenging years for the company. His unwavering dedication was evident as he invested countless hours collaborating with staff to navigate the unprecedented global pandemic, including staging the innovative 2021 “Glimmerglass on the Grass” season. Among Nelson’s many achievements as Chair was leading the successful search for the Festival’s new Artistic & General Director, Rob Ainsley.

Joining Nelson as a Life Trustee is his spouse, Emmy Award-winning costume designer Van Broughton Ramsey. Known for their generosity and commitment to fostering a sense of community, the couple has opened their home to the Festival for years, hosting events, meals, and Festival Artists. Ramsey has volunteered his time and expertise to the Festival as a speaker for the Apprenticeship Seminar Series, sharing his advice for the next generation of designers. Nelson and Ramsey have provided substantial financial support for the Festival, with a particular focus on initiatives like the youth opera and supporting Young Artists. Additionally, they spearheaded the establishment of the Zambello Gay Tribute Fund, which honors the Festival’s previous Artistic & General Director, Francesca Zambello, and her wife, nationally renowned lawyer Faith E. Gay, and inspired countless others to contribute.

Robert Nelson (right) and Van Broughton Ramsey (left.) Photo by Brent DeLanoy.

“Robert and Van are pillars of the Cooperstown community and figureheads of the Glimmerglass family; all who meet them are impressed by their warmth and hospitality. Their selfless generosity and advocacy touches so many organizations and causes in the area, but Glimmerglass has been by far the luckiest recipient of their passion, dedication, and expertise. My personal gratitude to Robert for his role in bringing me to this great company and community is equaled only by the gratitude of our staff and Trustees for his years of leadership,” shared Rob Ainsley, Artistic & General Director of the Festival. “Robert’s stalwart resolve and guiding hand as Board Chair undoubtedly saw the organization through one of the most challenging periods in history for the performing arts; we are very fortunate to benefit from his ongoing guidance in his new role as an Honorary Life Trustee, the highest mark of respect we are able to bestow.”

Georg O. Budenbender and Tim Lord, the Festival’s new Trustees, bring their unique expertise and passion to the organization. Budenbender, the retired President and CEO of E.ON North America, Inc., is an avid mountaineer, having conquered major peaks around the world. Lord, the Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director of the Bronx-based nonprofit DreamYard Project, is dedicated to supporting young people as they work toward higher learning, meaningful careers, and social action. The Glimmerglass Festival is excited to welcome these exceptional individuals to its Board of Trustees, further strengthening its commitment to artistic excellence and community engagement.


The Mahaiwe welcomes back staff and adds new board member

Great Barrington— Familiar face and Box Office alum Gabrielle Senza has returned to the Mahaiwe as its newest Theater Assistant and Laura Blank is its newest board member. 

Gabrielle Senza. Courtesy The Mahaiwe.

Gabrielle Senza is a multidisciplinary artist, educator, and activist, with her art included in prestigious collections like MoMA New York and the Whitney Museum. Gabrielle served as Box Office Manager from 2014 to 2017, when she left to pursue an M.F.A. in Creative Practice from Transart Institute and Plymouth University. She is the founder of Walk Unafraid.

Laura Blank. Courtesy The Mahaiwe.

Laura Blank received both her B.A. and J.D. degrees from the University of Pennsylvania. Now retired, Laura devoted her career to work in the public sector, with positions at the Mental Health Information Service (now called Mental Hygiene Legal Service) and The City University of New York (CUNY). Laura began her career at CUNY as an Associate General Counsel and held progressively responsible administrative positions, culminating in her service for many years as the Senior University Executive Director of Labor Relations. In addition to her professional career, Laura devoted time over the years to various not-for-profit entities, including serving as a founding Board member of Kids’ Base, Inc., a before- and after-school childcare program, and more recently as a member of the Board of Directors of the Friends of the Neuberger Museum of Art.


Springfield Museums join the Blue Star Museum Initiative making this summer’s admission free for military personnel and their families

Springfield— The Springfield Museums join other museums nationwide in the Blue Star Museums initiative, a program that provides free admission to currently serving U.S. military personnel and their families this summer. The program will begin on Armed Forces Day, Saturday, May 18th and end on Labor Day, Monday, September 2nd.

“We are honored to extend our thanks to the active military and their families by offering free admission to our Museums” said Kay Simpson President and CEO of the Springfield Museums. “We benefit from their service and sacrifice and feel privileged to share our limitless array of collections, exhibitions, and educational activities with them as an expression of our gratitude.”

In addition to the Springfield Museums, the Blue Star Museums program includes children’s museums, art, science, and history museums, zoos, gardens, lighthouses, and more, and hail from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Springfield Museums join Blue Star Initiative.

The free admission program is available for those currently serving in the United States Military—Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, Navy, and Space Force, members of the Reserves, National Guard, U.S. Public Health Commissioned Corps, NOAA Commissioned Corps, and up to five family members. Qualified members must show a Geneva Convention common access card (CAC), DD Form 1173 ID card (dependent ID), DD Form 1173-1 ID card or the Next Generation Uniformed Services (Real) ID card for entrance into a participating Blue Star Museum.


CRM Home Watch has earned accreditation from the National Home Watch Association

Becket— CRM Home Watch has earned accreditation from the National Home Watch Association (NHWA.) The NHWA was formed in 2009 in order to establish and maintain the highest industry standards for Home Watch and absentee homeowner services throughout the United States and Canada. Home Watch is a visual inspection of a home or property, looking for obvious issues, which means that it is a service that “keeps an eye on things” at your vacation or primary home while you are not in residence. All principals of NHWA Accredited Member companies are background-checked, insured, and bonded.

Chris Maccarini.

Founded by Chris Maccarini, a seasoned professional with a diverse background in project management and investigation, CRM Home Watch is dedicated to providing homeowners with the peace of mind they deserve while they’re away. Maccarini’s dedication to excellence is further underscored by his commitment to professional development. As a graduate of the NHWA’s Home Watch Boot Camp and a Certified Home Watch Professional (CHWP), Chris exemplifies the highest standards of quality and integrity in the industry. These credentials, coupled with his extensive experience, position him as a trusted leader in the field of Home Watch services.

Driven by his own experiences as a second homeowner in the Berkshires, Chris founded CRM Home Watch to address the need for reliable home monitoring services in the area. Combining his project management acumen with his investigative background, Chris identified Home Watch as a natural extension of his skill set—a service that not only provides peace of mind to homeowners but also ensures the safety and security of their properties. Learn more online.


Bard College receives $2,790,494 grant from New York State Department of Education

Annadale-On-Hudson— Bard College has been awarded a $2,790,494 grant from the New York State Department of Education (NYSED) for its Arthur O. Eve Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP). This grant will provide funding over five years (2024–2029) to significantly increase support of HEOP students at Bard.

Bard College is one of the first and longest running HEOP schools in New York, having run a program since 1969. HEOP provides full-tuition scholarships as well as a broad range of services to New York State residents who, because of educational and economic circumstances, would otherwise be unable to attend a postsecondary educational institution. These awards are highly competitive.

This grant will enable Bard to increase enrollment in its successful Arthur O. Eve Higher Education Opportunity Program from 36 scholars to 53. Bard will increase full-time HEOP staff to support this expansion. The College will continue its recent focus on recruiting students living in the Hudson Valley and Capital Region who come from under-resourced academic backgrounds and meet the financial criteria for economic disadvantage set by NYSED.

During the five-year grant cycle, Bard will be able to provide more direct support to students by increasing the amount provided for tuition assistance, medical insurance, textbook allowance, and personal expenses. Bard will also offer additional benefits to its HEOP students including loan support for graduating seniors, loan buybacks for returning scholars, and support for travel to off-campus academic programs or conferences. Learn more online.


Berkshire County Historical Society receives $10,000 grant from Preservation Massachusetts Association

Pittsfield— The Berkshire County Historical Society has received a $10,000 historic preservation grant from Preservation Massachusetts in association with the 1772 Foundation. In addition, BCHS has received a $15,000 grant from the Jane and Jack Fitzpatrick Trust. These grants will be used to replace lost historic louvered shutters to Herman Melville’s historic home Arrowhead. Restoring these important architectural elements is in keeping with BCHS’s mission to preserve and interpret Arrowhead returning the house to its Melville-era (1850s-1860s) appearance.

This project has grown out of information learned from a Historic Structure Report completed in October 2022. The earliest sketches and woodcuts of Arrowhead from the 1850s depict the house with louvered shutters, as would be appropriate for a farmhouse built in the eighteenth century. As time passed, however, the shutters appear to have been removed – the last known photographs that show the house with shutters are from the late 1960s. By the time the BCHS purchased Arrowhead in 1975 and opened the house to the public in the 1980s, the shutters were gone.

“We are thankful to Jane and Jack Fitzpatrick Fund, Preservation Massachusetts and the 1772 Foundation for their support of restoration projects at Arrowhead,” said Lesley Herzberg, BCHS Executive Director. “Because of their support, and the support of other donors, we are able to create a more authentic experience of Herman Melville’s home for visitors from all over the world.”


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