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The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art is one of a select number of initiatives the National Endowment for the Arts has approved for a major 'Our Town' grant.

Mass MoCA Approved for Major NEA Grant

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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art is one of a select number of initiatives the National Endowment for the Arts has approved for a major "Our Town" grant.

Selected as one of just 51 grants nationwide in this category, the two-year, $100,000 matching grant will support the North Adams Artist Impact Coalition, a collaborative initiative designed to maximize artist support in the North Adams community and better connect artists to regional resources and to each other. 

The coalition, which formed last year, is spearheaded by Mass MoCA's Assets for Artists Program alongside the city of North Adams and other area arts stakeholders such as the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, Installation Space Art Gallery, Common Folk Artist Collective, Walkaway House Artist Residency and a number of local, practicing artists.

The announcement from the NEA comes as the North Adams Artist Impact Coalition disperses $20,000 of other funding in rapid response working capital grants to 20 city artists whose artistic businesses have been significantly damaged by the coronavirus outbreak. These grants are paired with additional educational support in the form of one-on-one mentorship from coalition members along with webinars on how to sustain a creative business under these new conditions.

"Mass MoCA's Assets for Artists program has more than a decade-long track record of investing in artists throughout our region with this type of multi-pronged support," said Blair Benjamin, the program's founder and director. "We've seen artists make exciting progress from our support, and we're thrilled to significantly expand that work in North Adams with the help of our coalition partners and this NEA grant funding."

The North Adams Artist Impact Coalition also hosts quarterly artist meet-ups around the North Berkshire region, designed the city’s first Artist Census in early 2020, and planned an artist materials swap, which is currently postponed until later this year.

The new Our Town grant will support the expansion of the Artist Impact Coalition's existing work with a focus on creating new resources for artists to thrive in the city of North Adams.

"The creative economy is a large sector in this region, and it's no secret it has been deeply impacted by the pandemic," said Jess Sweeney, a North Adams City Councilor, the director of Common Folk Artist Collective and a coalition member. "This grant will go a long way to preserve the fabric of our creative world here in North Adams and simultaneously support artists in navigating the rapidly changing industry."

A public call for additional projects that will strengthen the livelihoods of North Adams artists is expected early next year.

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