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CATA Executive Director Margaret Keller at Wednesday's groundbreaking at the former Renaissance Arts Center on Stockbrige Road.
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Sandra Newman, founder of CATA, is recognized during the event.
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State Rep. Smitty Pignatelli and state Sen. Adam Hinds offer remarks.
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CATA Breaks Ground for New Art Center & Headquarters

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The 6,400 square foot center is designed by Clark & Green Architects. It's expected to take about a year to renovate the structure. 
GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — Community Access for the Arts broke ground on Wednesday morning for a new art center at 420 Stockbridge Road.
The center will be a permanent home for CATA and allow the organization to expand its innovative arts programs for people with disabilities.
The two-story, 6,400-square-foot facility will double the organization's existing studio space, with two studios — one for visual arts and writing, the other for dance and performing arts. CATA's new arts center will also embody the principles of Universal Design, making the facility accessible to every person. For the first time, the building will bring the organization's studios and offices under the same roof.
State Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli attended the groundbreaking ceremony with state Sen. Adam Hinds. They both served as honorary co-chairs of CATA's Capital Campaign Steering Committee and provided the event's opening remarks.
"It was an honor to attend this historic groundbreaking for an organization that is so highly respected statewide," said Pignatelli. "The impact CATA has on those with special abilities from all around Berkshire County is clearly shown through the good work they do every day to teach their students self-expression through the visual and performing arts. I am thrilled that the community atmosphere will now have a permanent home right here in Great Barrington, and am grateful to have been a part of the celebration today."
The purchase and renovation of the former Renaissance Arts Center is being funded in part through a $200,000 grant from MassDevelopment and the Massachusetts Cultural Council. The design is by architects Clark & Green and Allegrone is managing the construction. Construction is slated to begin in July with the building opening in early 2020. The Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund also provided a $7,000 grant to support long-term planning for the new facility.
"After 26 years of renting space, CATA will now have a true home -- one that will double our existing space for artists with disabilities," said Executive Director Margaret Keller. "With the growth we've achieved in recent years, we have been bursting at the seams. Now, after intensive planning, we are ready to take this pivotal step forward to give our CATA artists the space they deserve. We can’t wait to share our plans with the wider community at the Groundbreaking and in the months ahead."
Since 1993, CATA has offered more than 20,000 arts workshops to more than 2,000 people with disabilities in Berkshire and Columbia, N.Y., counties. In the last five years, CATA has dramatically increased its participation by 70 percent and expanded its public programs including performances, readings, and art exhibits featuring work by CATA artists.

Tags: art center,   CATA,   groundbreaking,   

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Great Barrington Women's Rally Attracts 200 Participants

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff

Berkshire Pulse dancers wear 'vote' masks for their performance at the rally. 

GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — The Women's Rally on Saturday drew more than 200 people to protest the attempt to fill Ruth Bader Ginsburg's seat on the U.S. Supreme Court prior to the presidential election. 

The event at Town Hall included music by Hoping Machine and Berkshire Batteria, speeches by the Mount Everett Social Justice League, and a performance by Housatonic dance studio Berkshire Pulse.  

Participants held signs reading phrases like "Girls just wanna have fundamental rights" and "A woman's place is in the resistance."

Mariana Cicerchia and daughter Lucia organized the rally. Cicerchia is an artist, mother, and works alongside her husband at his construction company. Lucia is a student at Mount Everett Regional School in Sheffield and a member of its Social Justice League, which is a group that reads books about political issues to learn about the history of different groups of people such as indigenous people.

Cicerchia said there was no local march in connection to the national Women's March held on Saturday, so the Women's Rally could be something to put her energy toward that would gather like-minded people together and help them feel a sense of connection and not being alone.

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