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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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Authorities Investigating Bomb Threat at Bard College at Simon's Rock

Staff Reports
GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — Bard College at Simon's Rock was on lockdown Thursday after an anonymous bomb threat was emailed to the campus. 
 
The all-clear was given at 1:30 p.m. after the grounds were searched by local first responders and the state police bomb squad.
 
According to Police Chief Paul Storti, the college notified police shortly after 7:15 a.m. of the threat and the college campus was locked down. Great Barrington Police also posted a notification on its Facebook page alerting the community of the situation, stating "appropriate emergency and investigative personnel are on scene. Further information will be released at a later time."
 
"The school immediately initiated their safety protocols while the Great Barrington Police Department investigated the threat," according to a release from the Police Department. "Great Barrington Fire Department, Officers from Egremont and Sheffield, Massachusetts State Police, MSP Detectives assigned to the District Attorney's Office, as well as the Massachusetts State Police Bomb Unit assisted on scene. The campus was thoroughly searched and deemed safe."
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