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Sue Bush
More articles from Sue Bush

Cellucci Gives $75K to MoCA

By Susan Bush
12:00AM / Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Former Massachusetts Gov. A. Paul Cellucci at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art
North Adams - Former Gov. A. Paul Cellucci delivered good tidings to the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art on Oct. 19 in the form of a $75,000 donation.

The contribution is a portion of about $500,000 in revenues that remain in Cellucci’s political campaign fund. Announcement of the donation was made during a 4 p.m. media conference held at MASS MoCA.

Cellucci was lauded by city Mayor John Barrett III, who is also the chairman of the MASS MoCA Cultural Development Commission, and MoCA Director Joseph C. Thompson.

"Our Friend"

After acknowledging Cellucci’s roles as an elected state representative, state senator, lieutenant governor and a presidential appointment as the U.S. ambassador to Canada, Barrett offered a more personal tribute to Cellucci.

“Around North Adams, he’s Paul; he’s our friend,” Barrett told about 45 people gathered near the MoCA second-floor aviary.

Barrett expressed appreciation for the donation and then drew chuckles when he quipped “We tried to get it all, but he had to spread it around a little bit.”


North Adams Mayor John Barrett III
Much of the city’s forward movement is rooted in the Cellucci administration, Barrett said. Cellucci’s administration included former acting Gov. Jane Swift, who was an elected state senator when Cellucci selected her as his choice for lieutenant governor. City native Swift ascended from lieutenant governor to acting governor in 2001 following Cellucci’s ambassador appointment. She did not seek election in 2003. Swift attended the media conference but did not offer any public remarks.

Thompson welcomed Cellucci and Cellucci’s wife Jan, and said “MASS MoCA has a tendency to draw friends closer.”

MoCA Art In U.S. Embassy

Thompson expressed great appreciation for Cellucci’s promotion of the museum while serving as ambassador to Canada. Jan Cellucci invited MoCA artists to display their work at the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa as part of a U.S. State Department “Art in Embassies” program, and the exhibit allowed a greater international awareness and appreciation of the museum, Thompson said.

Cellucci praised the embassy art initiative and said that having MoCA art on display at the embassy offered numerous opportunities to talk about the museum.

Cellucci resigned the ambassador post on March 17, 2005 and accepted employment in the private sector.

Cellucci Part of MoCA's Beginning

After returning to the United States, Cellucci began to consider how best to distribute the campaign monies, he said. His contribution is a result of his pride in the museum and its’ place in the city’s economic revival.

“I’m very proud that when we decided to return, and we had to think about what to do with my campaign funds, I’m very proud to make a contribution so your city can keep doing what you’re doing,” Cellucci said.

As lieutenant governor to former Gov. William Weld, Cellucci traveled to the city in 1995 and delivered the state funds that permitted MoCA construction to begin. The state provided a $22 million construction grant to the project. Cellucci became acting governor in 1997, after Weld resigned to become the U.S. ambassador to Mexico. Cellucci was subsequently elected governor in 1997 and attended MoCA’s opening gala in 1999.

MASS MoCA Director Joseph C. Thompson


"A Champion"

During the conference, Cellucci emphasized Swift’s role in the creation of MoCA.

“Jane Swift was a champion in this,” Cellucci told those assembled at the museum.

Following his formal remarks, Cellucci again acknowledged Swift’s efforts on behalf of the museum. Swift, who was then a state senator, spoke persuasively about MoCA to Weld, who was in office during that time, Cellucci said.

“The argument that Jane Swift made rather compellingly to Bill Weld was that this would bring the city back,” Cellucci said.

Cellucci said that the leadership shown by Barrett and Thompson during the MoCA planning and construction process pulled necessary private funds to the project.

Great Tribute

North Adams Public Schools Superintendent James Montepare publicly thanked Cellucci for his support during the conference. About 1,000 city elementary school students visit the museum each year, Montepare said.

“The kids love it, they just love it,” Montepare said following the conference. “It’s a topic of conversation; you ask in the elementary schools ‘what are you doing”, and they say ‘we’re at MoCA.’”

City Councilor Richard Alcombright said the donation is another chapter in the city’s unfolding success story.

“It’s spectacular, like all the success stories happening in the city,” Alcombright said. “This is a generous contribution.”

Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts President Mary K. Grant said that the donation is a reflection of support for the city and the significance of MASS MoCA.

City Councilor Marie Harpin termed the contribution a “great tribute.”

“This donation is a great tribute to North Adams, to MoCA, and is also a tribute to the commitment to keep the city moving forward,” Harpin said.

City Councilors Ronald Boucher and Clark Billings attended the event, as did state Sen. Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr. D-Pittsfield.

Cellucci’s city visit coupled with the contribution announcement delivered a touch of sentiment to City Councilor Gailanne Cariddi.

“It’s such a pleasure seeing old friends of North Adams come back and appreciate the city,” she said.

Susan Bush may be reached via e-mail at suebush@iberkshires.com or at 802-823-9367.

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