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Berkshire Creative Director Named to State Post

By Tammy Daniels
iBerkshires Staff
11:38PM / Thursday, September 22, 2011
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Helena Fruscio
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Helena Fruscio, director of Berkshire Creative Economy Council, has been named the state's new creative economy leader.

Her appointment as creative economy industry director was announced on Thursday by Greg Bialecki, secretary of housing and economic development. The post has been vacant for more than a year since the first director, Jason Schupbach, left to work for the National Endowment for the Arts.

"The creative economy is an economic engine for the commonwealth and Helena has the necessary vision and experience to ensure this vital industry continues to grow and create jobs," said Bialecki. "We are fortunate to have her expertise, and look forward to the progress she will make."

Fruscio's job is to help advance the state's $1 billion creative economy industry, which employs more than 100,000 workers, according to a New England Foundation for the Arts study.

The North Adams native said her first step when she begins Oct. 24 will be to learn what others are doing across the state.

"The first thing is really going to be meeting everyone and learning how it works in other parts of the state and learning who's already doing cutting-edge work because they exist," she said on Thursday. "It's working with the business community making sure they're connected to the resources and supporting other areas and regions that want to do this."  

Fruscio knows from cutting edge. She joined Berkshire Creative in its formative stage in 2007 through Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts' Berkshire Hills Internship Program and became director two years later. Along the way, she's helped businesses, professionals and artists connect and expanded the concept of "creative economy" in the Berkshires.

"The work we're doing in the Berkshires was at the front of the line. I thought we could bring this to the rest of the state," said Fruscio, who expressed her appreciation to Bialecki and the Patrick-Murray administration for an "amazing opportunity." "I think it's a very important industry here and the Berkshires and across the state ... the experience I gained in the Berkshires is invaluable."

Berkshire Creative programs have gained national attention for supporting job creation and economic development opportunities associated with the creative economy. Programs include berkshirecreative.org, the information hub of the Berkshire County creative economy; networking working event SPARK!; BarCamps that fostered sharing knowledge; the first countywide Berkshire Gallery Guide and the Berkshire Creative Challenge, which connects artists and businesses.

Berkshire Creative has also partnered with existing initiatives, such as the Berkshire Film and Media Commission, MCLA's Berkshire Cultural Resource Center and Assets for Artists, to help broaden their impact and visibility through joint marketing, fundraising and collaborations.

Fruscio said an initial project in her new post will be to develop a resource guide for industries and regions across the state.

"Helena has been our guidestar at Berkshire Creative – in just a few short years her tremendous organizational talents, her innovative ideas and her insightful guidance has been key to the development of Berkshire Creative from a powerful idea into a powerful movement," said Berkshire Creative Chairman Kevin Sprague in a statement. "It is highly appropriate and exciting to see Helena move into a position where her talents and energy can benefit the creative economy of the commonwealth as a whole."

Fruscio graduated from the Rochester (N.Y.) Institute of Technology, School of Imaging Arts and Sciences. She will begin her new position on Oct. 24. She is a member of the state's Economic Development Planning and Creative Economy councils.

"Mostly want I want to say is thank you to the Berkshire community," said Fruscio. "They took a shot on me as an intern four years and I was able to help this commuity do this kind of work."
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