Editor's note: we were informed on Friday, June 26, that the board of Berkshires Jazz has cancelled its July 11 performance out of concerns for the musicians and crew. They hope to return next year.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Parks Commission has preliminary approved a group of events and started the conversation about what events will look like in Phases 3 and 4 of the state's reopening.
Last week, the commission went through a long list of canceled and postponed events but also approved a few new events contingent on the further reopening of the state and social distancing guidelines.
"We will continue to track these events with the state's phased reopening guidance so we will have assurances," Parks and Open Spaces Manager James McGrath said. "We will review them as soon as the new phasing comes out and have the proper conversations with event organizers."
There are no events scheduled in the parks until after June. This coincides with the anticipated start of Phase 3 of the reopening process.
The commission preliminarily approved some events scheduled to take place later on the Common and discussed creative solutions to maintain social distancing.
The first approved event is the Berkshire Jazz Showcase to take place July 11 at 12.
"The bands are locked in but if we had to postpone it we probably could right now," organizer Ed Bride said. "Quite frankly, they aren't getting a lot of work these days so they will be happy with that."
Some commissioners were unsure about the larger crowd gatherings and did not think they were possible until Phase 4. Commissioner Joe Durwin specifically cited music festivals and other like events that aren't allowed until then.
"I may be confused but everything I read made it sound like larger concerts and music festivals would be part of the Phase 4 new normal," he said.
Bride said they could space out circled areas on the field so families could sit together and allow for social distancing.
"They can social distance themselves with blankets and chairs and, unfortunately with jazz, I think there would be enough room on the Common to do that and still have a great event," he said.
McGrath suggested that the commissioners preliminarily approve the event until they have more state guidance. He said the city will work with the organizers of all events and multiple departments will weigh in to make sure each is safe.
"There will be a lot of folks involved in this," he said. "If there are provisions in place we will certainly make sure there is city staff on hand to make sure compliance in happening."
The commission made the same approval for Tanglewood in the City. Carrie Holland of Mill Town Capital, which partners with the Boston Symphony Orchestra to produce the event, said they plan to show archival performances on the Common.
There will be no pre-show activity.
Like the jazz showcase, they would like to paint individual circles on the lawn but actually have folks reserve them.
She suggested painting 120 circles that would allow ample space in between for people to walk around if they must.
Holland said the event is planned for July 17 but they may move it out to August. She added that they would like to work with other organizers looking to use the Common.
The commission approved two Springside Park cleanups and Bernard Mack of the Friends of Springside said the group has made provisions to allow for social distancing.
"I think we certainly can provide enough space with a few folks working in the eight segments of the park," he said. "I think we can give everybody an acre each if they want."
The cleanups are scheduled July 18 and Sept. 12.
The commission preliminarily approved Barrington Stage's request to hold "South Pacific" in concert Aug. 18 through the 23 at Wahconah Park.
"We reduced the cast, we will stay 6 feet apart and we reduced the band and there will be no woodwinds or brass," Branden Huldeen said. "They create spit so it will just be pianos and strings."
He said people will be properly spread out in the park and everything will be sanitized. He added that if the event goes through, it will be good for the city.
"We want this to be a celebration for the city of Pittsfield as we come out the end of this in August in Phase 4," he said. "We think it can bring the city together for four beautiful nights."
The commission also approved the summer softball program at the Doyle Softball Complex and outdoor yoga and the common.
The commission tabled the YIP Summer League's request to use the Dorothy Amos Park because ti wished to ask organizers about how they will comply with social distancing standards.
In coming phases, basketball will be allowed with no contact drills and no actual games.
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Eagle Newspaper Group Sells Off Vermont Publications
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — New England Newspapers is selling off its Vermont publications and a regional lifestyle publication to a Vermont company lead by entrepreneur Paul Belogour.
The sale consists of dailies Brattleboro Reformer and Bennington Banner, the weekly Manchester Journal and the 3-year-old award-winning UpCountry, a bi-monthly magazine. Both the Banner and Reformer date back more than a century.
The terms of the sale were not disclosed other than that the transfer will take effect on May 14 and that The Berkshire Eagle will not only continue to print the publications for at least five years, it will also continue to provide pagination, ad development and customer service for classifieds and circulation.
The papers will be operated by Belogour's newly established Vermont News and Media LLC and all current employees of the Vermont papers will retain their positions.
Slaughter is the Central Massachusetts regional director for U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and as a Pittsfield native has "strong relationships with several children, families, elected officials, and community leaders in the city."
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"Stop Telling Women to Smile" — her debut book — was released in February 2020 and uses visual art and storytelling narratives to address the daily oppressive experiences of marginalized people.
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Not yet ready to settle on a final plan, the Ordinance and Rules subcommittee unanimously voted to table a petition from Ward 1 Councilor Helen Moon requesting that city and council continue to offer a virtual and call-in option beyond COVID-19 for all public meetings.
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