Sarah Marcus and Kelly Silliman: Cultural councils deserve thanks for vital role they play

Published: 5/16/2021 1:00:13 PM

As the directors of the annual Youth Performance Festival, as well as independent performing artists, we write today to express our enormous gratitude for the Northampton Arts Council, the Greenfield Local Cultural Council, the South Hadley Local Cultural Council, and the Springfield Cultural Council.

The Youth Performance Festival (YPF), a collaboration between Valley Performance Playground and the Northampton Center for the Arts at 33 Hawley St., is a free opportunity for youth artists (ages 8-18) to create original performance pieces under the guidance of mentor artists in the fields of music, dance, theater, poetry/spoken word, and video.

We experienced an inspiring inaugural year in early 2020, and like many small arts programs had no idea how we would survive the pandemic. We were fortunate to have generous local business sponsors, as well as Local Cultural Council support from Northampton, Greenfield, South Hadley, and Springfield, which allowed us to pivot to an online format and increase our geographic reach.

This past February, youth artists from 16 different schools across eight towns created 17 pieces of original work, presented in a live, online event co-produced by Northampton Open Media. Even without being in person it was a deeply rewarding experience for the artists. Each town’s local cultural council is part of the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency, and operates with support from community members.

Any individual artist who lives or makes work in a town is eligible for LCC grants, as well as nonprofit and educational organizations. The application process is accessible and easy to navigate and LCCs support a broad range of creative projects.

We feel fortunate to live in an area with such robust local and state support for the arts. In addition to supporting projects like YPF, LCCs have offered pandemic relief grants to individual artists and worked diligently to make artistic opportunities more available to all artists.

Thank you again to the Northampton Arts Council, the Greenfield Local Cultural Council, the South Hadley Local Cultural Council, and the Springfield Cultural Council for all you do for our communities!

Sarah Marcus
Kelly Silliman

Leeds

The writers are co-directors of the Youth Performance Festival.



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