Berkshire Cultural Institutions Welcome New Leadership
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Berkshire cultural leaders gathered at Barrington Stage Company's Wolfson Center to welcome the new leaders of three of Berkshire County's cultural venues on Tuesday night.
"As you can see, there are so many amazing things for us to look forward to. Sometimes when I think about the city of Pittsfield, it's almost hard for me to believe that in our little city we have these amazing art and cultural institutions right here but also the Berkshires overall," Pittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer said. "It's just a phenomenal place to experience art and culture. It's a privilege to be part of it."
Barrington Stage Company, Berkshire Museum, and Hancock Shaker Village all introduced new leadership to their venues this year. Alan Paul was named the new Artistic Director of Barrington Stage Company, Kimberley Bush Tomio was named the Executive Director of the Berkshire Museum, and Nathaniel "Nat" Silver assumed the role of Executive Director and CEO of Hancock Shaker Village.
"Barrington Stage, Berkshire Museum and Hancock Shaker Village are all world class organizations and institutions that attract thousands and thousands of patrons each year. And they thrive due to the cutting-edge of innovation and the creativity of their leadership and their teams," Tyer said. "It's upon this foundation that we welcome [Paul, Tomio, and Silver] who each also bring their own experience and expertise in unique portfolios that will inform their vision and their new roles."
"It was incredibly fortuitous because, at the exact same time, three leaders who have three very different but complementary and essential cultural organizations in the Berkshires got new leadership. And we were able to link up and have an event to welcome other cultural leaders to come and meet," Barrington Stage Director of Development Jessica Provenz added.
Tyer said support for these institutions is recognized throughout the county, especially in Pittsfield. During the pandemic, one of the most important programs established was the economic recovery program which assisted the county's cultural institutions that had been impacted by the pandemic
This support continues now with the funds allocated from the American Rescue Plan, Tyer said.
Provenz noted the many leaders with a variety of different specialties in the room adding that they are an example of what makes Berkshire County special.
"It's a collection of people who make the Berkshires a special place, and we decided that it would be more effective and powerful if we teamed up together with Berkshire Museum and Hancock Shaker Village to introduce the new leaders at the same time to the community," she said.
Silver said the event is an opportunity to bring together cultural leaders from all over the region to make connections which will further collaboration between all the institutions allowing them to better serve the community.
Paul agreed with this sentiment.
"It'll shake it up. I'm so excited. We all came here because we love the institutions we're coming to, but I think we all have a fresh perspective on what those things can be. So I'm looking forward to seeing you know how things evolve," Paul said.
Paul said each venue serves different parts of the community so it is important that they all collaborate to get more people excited about visiting the Berkshires.
Paul brings his experience working as the Associate Artistic Director at Tony Award-winning Shakespeare Theatre Company to the community.
Paul first came to Berkshire County in 2017 when his best friend performed at the Berkshire Theater Festival.
Since then, he has visited the area every summer to experience theatrical performances produced by many theater venues in the area.
"And it's so funny how these little moments of life, you don't realize that they're the big moments of life. I had no idea that I would move here but every summer since then, besides the pandemic, I would come up here and see shows at all three theaters," he said.
One of the things that Paul said he loved about Barrington Stage and the other theaters in the area were the courage that they have to pioneer new musicals and plays that have gone on to Broadway and impacted American Theater.
"But these were such gutsy institutions willing to take risks and be the first so I was proud to just be connected to them. And I'm thrilled to be connected to that tradition. Now. I wanted to be here more than any other place because this company has a legacy of doing really daring new work," Paul said.
Tomio brings her experience from working as the director of museum services at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco for the past decade.
She said she is looking forward to the journey ahead of her and welcomes all of the things she will learn in this new position at the Berkshire Museum.
She said when she first arrived she was very impressed by the "majestic" and "beautiful" building. She said she discovered things she had never seen before in their collection.
"Then the most amazing part of my discovery was the aquarium which I had no idea was really such a big thing, but it is quite a wonderful place to go with your family," she said. "...So [the collection] gives you a little bit of everything. And I was really impressed with the way the collections have been interpreted and how beautiful the museum is overall."
Pittsfield and Berkshire County represent the Berkshires Museum's mission to bring people together for experiences that spark creativity and innovative thinking by making inspiring educational connections among art, history, and natural sciences, she said.
"There's no doubt that the Berkshire Museum has always been, should be, and remains a place for all who live here and a discovery for those who visit. So it's not only a gift to the people who live and make this their home. It's got to be here for people who happen to come to Berkshire County, or Pittsfield, or the surrounding areas, and they want to find out more about what is it like to live here," she said.
Silver joins the Hancock Shaker Village team bringing his experience working at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston
Silver said the historic buildings, tools, and collection that the museum makes the museum a work of art in and of itself similar to the Stewart Gardner Museum.
Although he was unable to attend this year's community favorite baby animals, he said he has fond memories of bringing his son to the event four years ago.
During this initial interaction with the museum, he watched his son in rapture with all the baby animals which encouraged him to look deeper into the institution.
"It also encouraged me to look deeper into what this institution was and to discover this was part of the oldest working farm in the Berkshires, the 750 acres that it occupies the 20 historic buildings, and this remarkable collection of 20,000 works of art, Silver said. "It's been such an exciting move here. And I've heard from many people saying ‘Oh, but it's so different from the Gardner Museum.' And you know, that's true, it is different in many ways. But in many ways, it shares some key characteristics."
Similar to the Gardner, the village was founded on diversity and progressiveness and the museum itself is a work of art, he said.
Silver said he is looking forward to working at the museum and helping grow its social responsibility and environmental sustainability that already exists in its DNA, left behind by the legacy of the shakers.
Another thing he is looking forward to is working with the museum's collection which often goes underappreciated because it is not on view often, he said.
He said the addition of the visitor center will change this by highlighting the collection.
"So that's a project that was already underway. When I started, we announced the architect, I think, in a press conference on my fourth day of work. So that was not so much getting my feet wet as just jumping right into the pool into the deep end, but a very, very exciting one," he said.
More information on Silver's efforts here.
Tags: Barrington Stage, Berkshire Museum, Hancock Shaker Village,