Celebrating Creative Economy Month in 2021
Innovative. Adaptive. Clever. These are just a few of words that describe how the many individuals and businesses of the Berkshires were able to survive the rollercoaster of 2020. These are also a few of the words that describe our Creative Economy and the ways these cultural organizations, solopreneurs, and small businesses have led by example, showcasing ingenuity and celebrating reinvention. At 1Berkshire, we’re often amazed by our members, and in 2020, our Creative Economy did not disappoint. Despite one challenge after another—and there were many—these members chose to see opportunity. We’re highlighting just a few as part of this year’s Creative Economy Month.
We saw two companies from the Berkshires’s Performing Arts—Berkshire Theatre Group and Barrington Stage Company—impressively lead the country in reimagining safe, outdoor productions in a way that adhered to all necessary pandemic protocols. What a triumph to offer the experience of live theater to our community during a difficult time! In addition, many other companies swiftly created online and virtual programming, helping to connect artists to audiences through various forms of creative storytelling.
Many of our culture and heritage Museums and institutions invited guests onto their properties, offering an accessible way to experience the natural art and beauty of the Berkshire outdoors—and as soon as it was possible, they devised systems to safely invite visitors inside their galleries and creative spaces. The Clark continues to receive national attention for their ongoing outdoor sculpture exhibit, which you can enjoy for free. (And try snowshoeing, too!) MASS MoCA is offering curated listening experiences, combining a stroll through their vast art-lined halls with audio by favored musicians. Berkshire Museum turned their annual Festival of Trees into an explore-on-your-own adventure this past holiday season, and the Norman Rockwell Museum was one of the first to launch an entirely virtual experience of their collections.
Members in Film and Media found new ways to connect with their audiences, too—like Berkshire Film and Media Collaborative’s Berkshire Outdoor Shorts, a film festival featuring work by and employing all local artists (co-produced with Great Barrington Public Theater). Encore Audio began to offer equipment rentals for outdoor events, and the Mahaiwe recently launched an opportunity for people to rent the entire theatre for private film screenings or larger than life video game competitions. One of our newest members, 413Shirts.com, opened a pop-up shop to compliment their online store where they screenprint Berkshire-themed masks, t-shirts, hoodies, and more. (Check out their recent live Facebook Takeover for a virtual tour.)
Members working in visual arts and fine crafts have also been hard at work. Berkshire Paint and Sip, a popular activity for friends to gather around canvases and glasses of wine during normal times, began hosting virtual painting sessions that included supply kits. (The sipping portion is BYO.) Soma’s Aromas continued to develop new scents of their hand poured, therapeutic soy candles. The Hoffman Pottery gallery remained open, too, creating colorful and whimsical dishes and garden sculptures to brighten your home and outdoor spaces. Cohorts who participated in EforAll Berkshire County have persevered, like custom sign maker Neathawk Designs in North Adams, and summer writing residencies by The Mastheads—in July, participating writers installed poetry on surfaces at five locally-owned essential businesses in Pittsfield. CozQuest, another EforAll participant, launched smartphone scavenger hunts that offer prizes to players who follow clues to local businesses where they scan QR codes (and hopefully make a purchase).
These examples and many others that we’ve witnessed by our friends in the Creative Economy double as lifelong lessons—how to recognize opportunity, invent solutions, stay committed to a mission, and remain connected to the community—no matter the challenge or obstacle. Thank you to all our members in our Creative Economy. You are vital to the health and vibrancy of the Berkshires.
By Christine Hoyt, Director of Member Services & Elizabeth Nelson, Sr. Marketing Specialist