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Robin Rapoza Hauser says she wants to help people to unleash their creativity as the art center she and her husband have opened on Summer Street.

Rapoza Center for the Arts Opens on Summer Street

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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The Rapoza Center for the Arts is operating on Summer Street until renovations are complete at its permanent home in the former McBride Funeral Home. 
ADAMS, Mass. — The Rapoza Center for the Arts challenges all to tap into their inner artist.
"Everybody has creative energy in them and it comes out in all different ways," owner Robin Rapoza Hauser said. "I want to help be on outlet for people to unleash that and by offering workshops and long-term courses at different price points, I am hoping to be able to be open to a wide range of people."
Originally from southeastern Massachusetts, Rapoza Hauser and her husband, John Hauser, stumbled upon Adams some years ago and found it to be the perfect place to open up their art center.
"We were on our honeymoon out here in the Berkshires and we just went to North Adams for the first time and one day we drove south," Rapoza Hauser said. "We ended up in Adams and we just fell in love with the town’s adorableness. It was just beautiful."
The two walked by the Steepleview Realty office on Park Street and saw the former McBride Funeral Home posted, which they eventually purchased.
The Liberty Street funeral home is being renovated but in the interim, the two opened up a location on 98 Summer St. this past summer.
Rapoza Hauser said she named the center after her father who, too, was a creative spirit.
"After my father had passed away in 2014, John and I got together and decided that we were going to open what I wanted to open for many years -- an arts education center," she said. "We decided to name it after my maiden name, which is in remembrance of my father Robert who was also a very creative man."
She currently is the sole instructor at this time and has pulled from her many experiences as an artist, teacher, actor, and even improv comedian to inform her courses.
"I have worn a million different hats and anything can be creative," Rapoza Hauser said. "I have been a teacher and have worked with children for more than half of my life ... I have worked in communities at many different income levels and with children from all different backgrounds. I want to be able to give art education a boost."
Current courses include drawing, watercolor, jewelry making, and improv comedy among others at different price levels. 
Folks can sign up for these courses at the center, their Facebook, or on the future website.
Rapoza Hauser said they also offer drop-in workshops Monday through Friday. In the morning there is a preschool session between 9:30 and 11:30 when parents and guardians can create with their children. From 3 to 5:30 there is an after-school session and children ages 6 to 12 are invited.
People can sign up that day and the workshops cost $10 an hour.
Rapoza Hauser said different workshops and classes will be implemented this spring and summer as new faculty is brought on board.
She also looks to help the business community around her and organized the holiday walk this Christmas. 
"I wanted to help in whatever way I could so I talked to all of the neighboring businesses and put it out there," she said. "It was a way to get everybody in the Christmas spirit."
They plan to hold more of these walks throughout the year.
Rapoza Hauser said she encourages everybody to explore their creativity and noted that her teaching method aims to break down art into its simplest form. 
"There is no such thing is you can’t teach an old dog new tricks," she said. "I have a way of teaching that breaks down the technique into the very smallest things ... if you know what circles and squares are you can do as a sculptor does and carve away at the details with a pencil."
Rapoza Hauser said she is excited for the future of the art center 
"It is for the love of art that is the number one reason I do this," she said. "I am an artist who is a teacher and I love teaching so I am really looking forward to what this year brings."

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Three Berkshires Women Named 'Unsung Heroines'

Liz Mitchell and state Rep. John Barrett III at Tuesday's 2019 Unsung Heroine ceremony at the State House. 

BOSTON — Three Berkshires women were named Unsung Heroines for 2019 during a State House ceremony on Tuesday.

State Sen. Adam G. Hinds nominated Donna Cesan for this recognition because of her dedication to community, having served as Community Development Director and interim Town Administrator for the town of Adams for 19 years.

Elizabeth "Liz" Mitchell, a North Adams resident and advocate for domestic violance victims with the Elizabeth Freeman Center, was nominated by state Rep. John Barrett III and Marie Richardson of Pittsfield, a caseworker in the Pittsfield Public Schools, was nominated by state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier.

"Donna has selflessly given countless hours of her time to ensure Adams is moving in the right direction," said Hinds. "She is well-respected in her hometown of Lanesborough, and the town of Adams is well-served by her. She is absolutely an Unsung Heroine for her dedication to our region and her professionalism, which is effortlessly showcased in all of her projects."

Massachusetts Commission of the Status of Women annually celebrates "unsung heroines" who don't always make the news, but who make a difference. They are the women who use their time, talent and enthusiasm to enrich the lives of others and make a difference in their neighborhoods, cities and towns. They are mentors, volunteers and innovators who do what needs to be done without expectations of recognition or gratitude. These women are the glue that keeps a community together and every community is better because of their contribution.   

Hinds said Cesan has dedicated her career to public service. As the director of community development, she has spearheaded economic development projects with big impact, like the construction of a platform for the Adams terminus of the Berkshire Scenic Railway Museum's Hoosac Valley Service, the renovation of the Adams Visitor Center parking lot and implementing the community's vision for the Greylock Glen. Since 2014, she has been asked twice by the Board of Selectmen to also serve as interim town administrator, managing every aspect of municipal government for months, while also promoting community development initiatives in town.
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