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CATA is preparing for a virtual gala fundraiser on May 9.

Community Access to the Arts to Host Virtual Gala

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GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — Community Access to the Arts presents its virtual gala and performance on Saturday, May 9, from 5 to 6 p.m. 

The event is free to attend and takes place entirely online here. Prior to the event, CATA launches a weeklong celebration with videos and digital performances beginning Monday, May 4. The celebration culminates in a gala evening, which includes the debut of a short film showcasing the talents of people with disabilities as well as a virtual paddle-raise auction to support CATA programs.

Each May for more than 20 years, CATA has presented a live performance and gala at Shakespeare & Company in Lenox that shares the talents of artists with disabilities in acting, dance, singing, drumming, juggling, and more. When CATA suspended its in-person programs and rehearsals in early March due to the COVID-19 crisis, the organization quickly worked to reinvent their flagship public event as an online performance.

"Even in difficult times, our mission is clear," said CATA Executive Director Margaret Keller. "To bring joy to people with disabilities through the arts — and to share their creative spirit with our community. We knew we couldn't skip that. And the gala is a critical fundraiser for CATA — one-third of our annual budget comes from gala donations."

Since the pandemic began, CATA has launched a series of dynamic online programs to reach people with disabilities isolated by the pandemic. Funds raised from CATA's virtual gala will go to support those programs.

"These online workshops are vital to combating isolation for CATA artists," Keller said. "We need our community's support to sustain programs for people with disabilities, to keep them connected, inspired, and fulfilled. Without those donations, CATA simply can’t happen."

For the gala evening, CATA has been working with local filmmaker Ben Hillman to reinvent their live performance as an imaginative film that will take viewers behind the scenes and share the talents of artists with disabilities. The film will be followed by a virtual paddle-raise auction to raise money for CATA programs.

"It's a unique chance for our audience and supporters to see the work they make possible every day," Artistic Director Dawn Lane said. "Our virtual gala will take viewers behind the scenes and connect them with CATA artists like never before."

CATA’s virtual gala is free and open to the public. Attendees are asked to RSVP here.

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Long-Time Leader of Berkshire United Way Joins Volunteers in Medicine Board

GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — Kristine Hazzard has joined the Volunteers in Medicine Berkshires as a member of the board of trustees.

Hazzard has 30 years of experience leading and managing health and human service organizations. Currently a principal consultant at Katalyst, she specializes in strategic planning, organizational development, executive coaching, community change processes and meeting facilitation.  Prior to launching her own firm, Kristine served as president and chief executive officer of Berkshire United Way from 2008 to 2019.

"Kristine's proven commitment to improving the lives of the most vulnerable members of our community, combined with her expertise in program development, fundraising, public relations, board development and coaching will be invaluable to VIM," said Arthur Peisner, VIM's chairman of the board. "VIM is needed now more than ever, and Kristine will be instrumental in helping ensure we grow strategically and sustainably."

Before Berkshire United Way, Hazzard spent 10 years as president and chief executive officer of The Center for Women and Families of Eastern Fairfield County, a nonprofit agency serving victims of domestic violence and sexual assault as well as women returning to the community after incarceration.  Prior to that, she was supervisor of school-based health centers for the city of Bridgeport, Conn.’s Department of Health. She began her career as site manager of Planned Parenthood of Connecticut’s Stamford Clinic. 

Hazzard and her husband Larry, president of Berkshire Life Insurance Company and a former member of VIM’s Board of Trustees, live in Hinsdale. Kristine received her bachelor's degree in social work from Albright College and a master's degree in social welfare administration from SUNY Albany.

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