It’s been an invigorating and refreshing few years for the members of Berkshire Art Association (BAA). Stemming from a day-long board retreat in 2015, BAA’s volunteer members reaffirmed their commitment to the organization’s mission to connect artists and the community in order to inspire creativity and increase access to the visual arts.
With donations totaling more than $10,000 in the last three years, they have been able to host culturally relevant art exhibitions, update their website, and acquire a donation management system, in addition to funding art-related field trips for area high schools, providing free admission for art students to the Berkshire Museum, and providing cash awards to recipients of the BAA’s annual College Fellowship Show. With new initiatives on the horizon, BAA hopes the community continues to value and support their mission by making monetary donations, or becoming involved with the organization.
Berkshire Art Association was founded in the 1950s and has been dedicated to encouraging emerging artists and to giving Berkshire residents and visitors opportunities to view and become engaged with contemporary trends in American art. In November of 2016, BAA’s biennial show focused on the “Othering” experience — defined in this context as perceiving or portraying something as fundamentally different. “Othering” became one of BAA’s most diverse exhibitions, including local artists, as well as artists from outside of Berkshire County, focusing on themes related to race, health, religion, class, gender, and neurodivergence.
“The BAA is about bringing the community together through visual art,” said BAA President Danielle Steinmann. “However, we are very aware that there are some artists who feel excluded because society views them as ‘different’ in some way. We chose the theme of ‘Othering’ in order to create a space for these artists to share their work. We hope that the exhibition will encourage viewers to celebrate difference and think about how we can all be more welcoming and inclusive.”
BAA has also seen continued engagement with its annual 10×10 Real Art Party fundraiser at Berkshire Museum. Each year, Berkshire County artists of all ages donate 10-inch x 10-inch works of art that can be purchased with a $25 ticket. It has been a sold-out affair each year raising more than $3,500 annually, most of which goes towards artists included in the Fellowship Show. The Fellowship is open to Berkshire County residents enrolled as art majors at any college in the country, as well as to non-residents majoring in art at a Berkshire County college – Berkshire Community College, MCLA, Williams College, and Simon’s Rock.
Up next for Berkshire Art Association: expanding support for art students through a new initiative that would help public school art teachers in the county buy much-needed art supplies. It’s a developing initiative; one that BAA hopes to roll out in the coming months with your continued support. To learn more about Berkshire Art Association, its initiatives, and how to get involved, visit berkshireartassociation.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find them on Facebook at facebook.com/berkshire.art.