Letter: Mass MoCA Needs to Address Children's Art

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To the Editor:

Recently, this writer received an email from Mr. Joseph Thompson, director of Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. He was responding to my email concerning Mass MoCA's illegal paint over of the children's artwork on the Marshall Street pillars in the city of North Adams. He indicated that he was opened to suggestions but, at this point in time, he has not responded to the letter or to the strong desire of the community for testing and possible restoration of the school children's art work.


Thanks for responding to my latest email concerning the issue of the art projects on the Marshall Street pillars. With that said, I have carefully reviewed the history and the intentions stated by both parties of the issue. Unfortunately, outside of what seems to be accurate reporting of dates and times it appears that the content of conversations related to what was an acceptable plan and how it was to proceed is conflicting. It is also apparent that too much time has transpired since your initial meetings with the artists. No substantial follow up has apparently occurred as previously indicated.

Without getting into conflicting details concerning opinions and interpretations, it is rather obvious and factual that the general public did and continues to support the children's art and desires a mutual agreement between the two parties which will reflect that desire. It is believed that both parties will have to make mutual concessions and your leadership and support of such is crucial as a concerned citizen and Director of Mass MoCA.

Despite what has been indicated, the fact remains that no one and, I repeat. no one party had a legal right to the publicly owned bridge or pillars. In the court of law based on facts, considering the contents of questionable verbal agreement either between Mayor Barrett or Mayor Alcombright, use, longevity, construction or destruction of any art on the pillars never followed the legal perimeters of law.

You indicated that you are all ears considering resolution of what has grown to be a much larger and longer issue than expected. Approaching nearly 500 signatures and emails of support, the collaboration of the North Adams Teachers Association and the media coverage on a local and regional basis, it is imperative that a resolution is in the best interest of MoCA and the city of North Adams.

Considering the need for a positive response let me make some suggestions to you in addressing the Pillars.

1. Immediately contact Bill, Christina, Sam and Bruce with the direct intent of ironing out solutions. (I believe that recently that you and Bill informally met to discuss the issue.) Would also suggest that because the public has so strongly been involved, a representative of the public ( hopefully this writer) be an observer at negotiations.

2. Support the testing of the children's artwork to verify if it can be restored. If it isn't, the whole issue is mute.

3. Proceed rapidly on an action plan.

What is recommended are starting points and need to be accomplished not only for acceptable resolution but also in the interest of all parties.

On a personal note, I believe that MASS MoCA and not the children of North Adams was and continues to be the principal cause of the problem, You clearly stated that mistakes were made and are behind us now.

Resolution and responsibility of making the issue right begins directly with the museum. No permanent installation status, verbal permission or control belonged to either party and for anyone to assume any said control or status is just plain unlawful and unacceptable.

Although interest by one national new media has emerged, I will hold off pursuing further contact until assured that the issue is addressed quickly and in a mutually acceptable way to all parties.

Appreciate hearing from you soon as to what course and time frame you intend to pursue regarding this matter.

Vincent Melito
North Adams, Mass.

This letter was received on Jan. 3 but did not get posted in a timely manner.






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Sticking to Budget Can Boost Your Emergency Fund

Submitted by Edward Jones

During the coronavirus pandemic, our health concerns – for ourselves and our loved ones – have been at the top of our minds. But financial worries have been there, too, both for people whose employment has been affected and for investors anxious about the volatile financial markets. 

And one aspect of every individual's total financial picture has become quite clear – the importance of an emergency fund.

In normal times, it's a good idea for you to keep three to six months' worth of living expenses in a liquid, low-risk account. Having an emergency fund available can help you cope with those large, unexpected costs, such as a major car repair or a costly medical bill.

Furthermore, if you have an adequate emergency fund, you won't have to dip into your long-term investments to pay for short-term needs. These investment vehicles, such as your IRA and 401(k), are designed for your retirement, so the more you can leave them intact, the more assets you are likely to have when you retire. And because they are intended for your retirement, they typically come with disincentives, including taxes and penalties, if you do tap into them early. (However, as part of the economic stimulus legislation known as the CARES Act, individuals can now take up to $100,000 from their 401(k) plans and IRAs without paying the 10 percent penalty that typically applies to investors younger than 59 1/2. If you take this type of withdrawal, you have up to three years to pay the taxes and, if you want, replace the funds, beyond the usual caps on annual contributions.)

Of course, life is expensive, so it's not always easy to put away money in a fund that you aren't going to use for your normal cash flow. That’s why it's so important to establish a budget and stick to it. When developing such a budget, you may find ways to cut down on your spending, freeing up money that could be used to build your emergency fund.

There are different ways to establish a budget, but they all typically involve identifying your income and expenses and separating your needs and wants. You can find various online budgeting tools to help you get started, but, ultimately, it's up to you to make your budget work. Nonetheless, you may be pleasantly surprised at how painless it is to follow a budget. For example, if you have budgeted a certain amount for food each month, you will need to avoid going to the grocery store several times a week, just to pick up "a few things" – because it doesn't really take that many visits for those few things to add up to hundreds of dollars. You will be much better off limiting your trips to the grocery, making a list of the items you need and adhering to these lists. After doing this for a few months, see how much you have saved – it may be much more than you would expect. Besides using these savings to strengthen your emergency fund, you could also deploy them toward longer-term investments designed to help you reach other objectives, such as retirement.

Saving money is always a good idea, and when you use your savings to build an emergency fund, you can help yourself prepare for the unexpected and make progress toward your long-term goals.

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