Founded in 1980, the Northampton Arts Council has an all-volunteer board, appointed by the Mayor, and staff, consisting of one full-time executive director, one part-time arts events producer, and one student intern from Smith College.
In addition to administering the LCC program, we were the first cultural council in the Commonwealth to raise money for a second round of funding every spring, with only a few other LCCs recently following our lead. The ArtsEZ Spring Grant round is made possible by two major fundraising events produced by the Arts Council; first, Transperformance, an end-of-summer concert at Look Park held every August, and second, the Four Sundays in February Series. In addition to grant programs, the Northampton Arts Council produces events at the Academy of Music Theater like the KidsBestFest and YouthFilm, offers arts enrichment programs in the public schools, initiates public art projects and advocates for the arts in the city.
News & Events
Our FOUR SUNDAYS IN FEBRUARY series called by the Daily Hampshire Gazette, "the showpiece of indoor winter entertainment in Northampton," is an example of our vision of artistic excellence. The annual series, started in 1993, begins and ends with two shows that have become enormously popular community arts events--The Silver Chord Bowl, a collegiate a cappella showcase, and The Really Gong Big Show, a local variety show. Through the support of series and performance sponsors, program ads, and tickets sales, we are able to experiment with innovative programming during two remaining Sundays in the series.
Every year we kick off the series with the SILVER CHORD BOWL. This show sells out every year and is especially popular with seniors and with what is euphemistically referred to as "old Hamp", those long-time community members who remember the Bowl from when it was part of the Chamber of Commerce's now defunct Winter Carnival. The event has become so popular we moved it from the 800-seat Academy of Music Theater to the 2,000-seat John M. Greene Hall on the campus of Smith College. The Really Big Show, based on a hybrid concept of the old Ed Sullivan Show and the Gong Show, is our annual salute to local artists, and closes out the Feb Series. This event works to showcase the talent in the Pioneer Valley. Each year, as different individual MC's the show by impersonating Ed Sullivan. Past shows have included artists such as musician Beverly "Guitar" Watkins, choreographer Anthony Rodriguez', visual artist Eric Carle, Tsidii Le Loka, Broadway phenom from South Africa, and dancer/choreographer/actor Richard Move.
Other annual events that coincide with the February Series are KIDSBESTFEST, a Children’s Film Festival featuring international, classic, long and short films for children, and YOUTHFILM featuring films crafted, written, and produced by local children and teenagers viewed on the big screen at the Academy of Music Theater. Both of these programs have free admission.
In addition to administering the state of Massachusetts Local Cultural Council program, the Northampton Arts Council is one of the few cultural council's in the Commonwealth to raise money for a second round of funding every spring. The ArtsEZ Spring Grant round is made possible by two major fundraising events produced by the Arts Council.
TRANSPERFORMANCE 25: Look at the Movies is the 25th annual fundraising event jointly presented by the Northampton Arts Council and the PTOs of the four Northampton elementary schools, J.F.K. Middle School and Northampton High School.
Local performers assume the personas of well-known and well-loved musicians around a theme. Performers are chosen for their talents and the creativity they bring to such role-playing, regardless of whether their gender, race, age, ethnicity or sexual preference/orientation matches that of the musicians they choose to imitate. This humorous musical bash is a celebration of the diversity of our population and an acknowledgment of the profound influences various artists have had on each other and on the rest of society.
The Northampton Arts Council and the PTOs use the proceeds from Transperformance for arts enrichment programs in the Northampton's public schools, and to provide a second round of funding that supports the work of many, many local artists and performing groups.
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