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Community organizations come together for Shakespeare & Company event

“Having this event has been a goal of ours in the last couple years, and it is tied into our IDEA work [Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility],” said Shakespeare & Company Director of Marketing and Communications Jaclyn Stevenson. “As part of IDEA, we are focused on getting out into the community more often throughout the year, and not just during our season."

Lenox — Shakespeare & Company, which was founded in 1978, is known mainly for its theater performances. In an effort to reach out to both the community and other Berkshire-based community organizations, the organization hosted its first ever Community Day on its 33-acre campus on Saturday, May 25.

Organizations from around Berkshire County set up kiosks for Shakespeare & Company’s Community Day. Photo by Shaw Israel Izikson.
Shakespeare & Company Director of Marketing and Communications Jaclyn Stevenson next to David Bakalar’s sculpture “The Pregnant Cube.” Photo by Shaw Israel Izikson.

“We chose Memorial Day weekend because we thought it would be a great time for a family event and a way to kick off the summer season,” Shakespeare & Company Director of Marketing and Communications Jaclyn Stevenson told The Berkshire Edge. “We wanted to do something different from what we’ve normally done traditionally on Independence Day by switching things up a little bit.”

Stevenson said that 16 nonprofit organizations from throughout Berkshire County took part in the event, which included kiosks for organizations and interactive informational performances.

“Having this event has been a goal of ours in the last couple years, and it is tied into our IDEA work [Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility],” Stevenson said. “As part of IDEA, we are focused on getting out into the community more often throughout the year, and not just during our season. Today is an example of a community event where we’re inviting people to come to us. We want people to know who we are and what we do, and also celebrate the patrons and supporters that we have.”

Participants take up arms in a free sword-fighting class led by members of Shakespeare & Company. Photo by Shaw Israel Izikson.
Representatives from Ventfort Hall held a Gilded Age tea party at the Community Day. From left: Ventfort Hall representative Grace Dugan, Executive Director Wendy Healey, and Programming Director Chelsea Gaia. Photo by Shaw Israel Izikson.

At the Community Day event, Ventfort Hall representatives held a Gilded Age-era tea party with tea, crumpets, and organization representatives dressed in era-specific costumes. “It’s absolutely important for organizations to work together because the Berkshires is a remote territory,” Ventfort Hall Programming Director Chelsea Gaia said. “It takes a while for people to get to Berkshire County, and it doesn’t behoove any one organization to be the last organization standing. I truly believe we all believe in community over competition. There’s enough for everyone to go around financially, especially with the nonprofits who survive off of donations and grants. It should be community over compensation, always.”

From Drag Story Hour Berkshires: Poppy DaBubbly and Sativo Green reading on the stage of the Tina Packer Playhouse during Shakespeare & Company’s Community Day. Photo by Shaw Israel Izikson.
Charlie Walker from Berkshire Pride. Photo by Shaw Israel Izikson.
Muriel Dyas (in character as Susan B. Anthony) and Susan B. Anthony Birthplace Museum Director James Capuzzi. Photo by Shaw Israel Izikson.

“I think an event like this brings to light how much there is for people in Berkshire County,” said Susan B. Anthony Birthplace Museum Director James Capuzzi. “It shows that there are many organizations here working together and collaborating to make life better for everyone in the county.”

“It’s really important to build community,” said Charlie Walker from Berkshire Pride. “It’s really important for organizations to lift each other up instead of competing with each other. This creates a good and positive vibe in the area.”

Berkshire Botanical Garden volunteer Steven Glicksman and Manager of Membership and Development Megan Weiner. Photo by Shaw Israel Izikson.
Representatives from the Heart & Soil Collective. From left: organization board member Janet Nelson, Steven Glicksman (who is also a volunteer for the Berkshire Botanical Garden), and organization co-Managing Director Kristen Tool. Photo by Shaw Israel Izikson.
From Becket Arts Center, organization Trustees Ann Morrison and Marilyn Taylor. Photo by Shaw Israel Izikson.
Lenox Library Youth Librarian Jonathan Russell promoting the library’s summer youth and adult programs at Shakespeare & Company’s Community Day. Photo by Shaw Israel Izikson.
Love of T Foundation representatives. From left: Connor Diehl, Paul Burt, organization founder Luke Fitzgerald, and Joe Dondi. Photo by Shaw Israel Izikson.

“When it comes to nonprofits in the Berkshires, I think there is a lot of passion here,” said Love of T Foundation founder Luke Fitzgerald. “There’s a lot of grassroots organizing and a lot of people working really hard to make a difference in the world.”

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