Flywheel Arts Collective exiting Easthampton’s old Town Hall

  • GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

  • One of many past musical performances at Flywheel: From left, David Kaynor, Amy Rose, Sue Burkhart, Joe Blumenthal and Jim Armenti in May 2017. Gazette file photo

  • Easthampton Town Hall, Friday, March 8, 2019. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

  • Zoe Sinelnikov, left, 2, Skylar Felix, 20 months, and Francesco Girardi, 20 months, all of Northampton, dance on the stage of the Flywheel Arts Collective in Easthampton during the Hilltown Families Saturday Morning Music Party & Pancake Breakfast on Saturday, Feb. 1, 2020.

Staff Writer
Published: 12/2/2020 1:17:25 PM

EASTHAMPTON — The pandemic has claimed another economic victim.

The Flywheel Arts Collective, which since 2010 has made its home at the city’s old Town Hall, has decided to vacate the space due to loss of income, a result of live shows and other events being shut down since March.

A statement posted this week on the collective’s Facebook site says in part, “Given the duration and open-endedness of the pandemic, it is no longer prudent for us to continue renting the space in Easthampton’s Old Town Hall that we have occupied for the past 10 years.”

That locale is run by CitySpace, the nonprofit group that manages the old Town Hall and also leases space there to Easthampton City Arts and Big Red Frame/Elusie Gallery.

Flywheel volunteers say they’re “immensely grateful” to CitySpace “for being supportive and flexible partners during this crisis … (we’re) sad to leave a place that has fostered so many shows, events, memories, and dreams for all of us.”

But volunteers say months of discussion about how to deal with the challenges posed by COVID-19 kept coming up against an unresolvable problem: the “whole money bug-a-boo,” the loss of income from canceled shows.

Flywheel was started 21 years ago by musicians Cindy Bow and Helen Harrison under a different name, the Valley Arts & Music Alliance, and initially produced shows in a variety of places in the area including art galleries, cafes, record stores and people’s yards.

A regular home was later established in a building on Holyoke Street before the collective moved to the old Town Hall. All the while, the goal has remained the same: put art over profit by giving a wide variety of performers a place to play, and making those shows affordable.

Flywheel has hosted much more than music over the years: It’s also been home to pancake breakfasts, dance classes, craft markets, zine fests, art exhibits, fundraisers and more.

No one from the collective responded to an email from the Gazette. But volunteers on the group’s Facebook page say Flywheel will continue in some form: “This bittersweet decision has been very carefully made to preserve the future viability of our collective, and our ability to support art and music in Western Massachusetts.”

“It makes more sense to conserve our remaining resources than put them towards a space we cannot currently use, and instead focus on brainstorming how we can evolve to serve our communities…. Flywheel’s still not too old to couchsurf.”

Volunteers say they plan to host community discussions early next year to look at possible future steps. To find out more and/or make a contribution to the collective, visit facebook.com/FlywheelArts.




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