Creative Economy Catalyst
For an organization, corporation, or individual that has generated
substantial new economic activity, produced jobs, and created new
income through the arts, humanities, and sciences.
Peabody Essex Museum
The Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) is a truly unique institution. It
is rooted deeply in New England, but its collections span the globe,
ranging from early American decorative art and architecture to outstanding
works from Asia, Africa, the Pacific Islands and Native America.
PEM reopened in 2003 to critical acclaim after undergoing a dramatic
transformation that expanded and reconfigured the 203-year-old institution.
The $125 million initiative more than doubled PEM’s exhibition space,
created new performance and education centers, and added a fully
restored merchant’s house from Qing Dynasty China.
The result, as the Boston Phoenix art critic wrote earlier this
year, is “a distinctive institutional personality — a scholarly
but often playful mix of old and new, Yankee and international,
fine, folk, and decorative art — that throws out traditional aesthetic
Attendance to PEM has more than doubled to an annual average of
250,000. This has greatly expanded cultural tourism in Salem and
helped revitalize the city’s historic downtown. The city gave over
a downtown street for the museum project, and in return it has seen
many vacant storefronts filled with new restaurants, shops, and
galleries. More broadly, the PEM project, combined with major investments
from the National Park Service and many private developers, has
given the city a new confidence in its future.
A great example of the new PEM’s impact came in 2006, when it partnered
with the North of Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau to create
Art Escapes, a yearlong celebration of the artistic heritage and
natural beauty of the North Shore region. This MCC-funded initiative
generated $175,000 in direct expenditures and over $400,000 in total
economic benefit for the local economy.
Worcester Cultural Coalition
The principal goal of the Worcester Cultural Coalition neatly sums
up its guiding philosophy: “Cultivate, nurture and reward creativity
anytime, anywhere. Ensure that every Worcester resident has the
opportunity to be creative and innovative.”
The Cultural Coalition is the unified voice of Worcester's cultural
community. The Coalition has been a model of effective collaboration,
pulling together the many unique elements of this former manufacturing
center: art and history museums, performing arts organizations,
colleges and universities, and businesses. Leading this decade-long
effort is Worcester’s City government, which has put arts and culture
at the center of its economic development efforts.
The Coalition’s members—now 58 and growing—accounted for 2.2 million
visitors to Worcester last year. In partnership with the Central
Mass. Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Coalition spearheaded
Worcester Wayfinding: a public-private partnership to identify Worcester—literally
through signage and creatively—as a major cultural destination.
Worcester Windows uses visible, empty storefronts in downtown as
exhibit space to enhance the city’s downtown and to provide display
opportunities for local artists. Hundreds of people have attended
the opening receptions and historic walking tours of the properties,
and many have also bought exhibited works.
Most recently the Coalition launched the WOO Card, a unique marketing
tool to engage the 35,000-plus college students in Worcester’s cultural
scene. The Colleges of Worcester Consortium distributed 12,000 free
WOO Cards that make them eligible for a host of promotional events
and special discounts offered by Cultural Coalition organizations,
with an additional 7,000 cards distributed at other campuses. Through
creative thinking and problem solving, Worcester has established an
identity that highlights its history of innovation and its diversity.
Over the course of 1,000 days, culminating in September, the Worcester
Cultural Coalition is now working with residents, businesses, and
institutions on creative community-building projects that support
what is calls “The Worcester Way.”
For the leader of a nonprofit cultural organization, school,
or community who has shown extraordinary commitment to serving the
Louis Casagrande, Children's
When Lou Casagrande steps down from his post as president and CEO
of Boston’s Children’s Museum this summer, he will leave behind
an institution that expanded greatly, both in physical footprint
and in its effect on millions of young visitors, during his 15-year
Lou has guided the museum to its current position of financial
stability and record visitation. He ensured that the institution
evolved and remained relevant as an enjoyable place for kids to
learn about their world. When the museum’s 23,000 square foot expansion
was LEED Gold certified by the U.S. Green Building Council, it became
the first museum in Boston to achieve this status.
More than just good PR, the project’s commitment to environmental
sustainability reflects the museum’s goal of preparing its visitors
to be good global citizens. Recent exhibits have introduced children
to diverse cultures both at home and abroad, from an exhibition
spotlighting the traditions of Boston’s black communities to the
authentic, two-story Japanese house.
Under Lou’s leadership, the Children’s Museum became an anchor
of Boston’s thriving Fort Point Channel neighborhood, and a model
for other children’s museums worldwide. Although his departure will
be a loss for the cultural community, his legacy is assured as this
thriving, inspiring museum delights families from Massachusetts
For a city, town, or community-based organization that has demonstrated
the central role of arts and culture in building healthier, more
vital, more livable communities.
City of Pittsfield, Mayor James
Pittsfield is the blue-collar heart of Berkshire County. It suffered
a significant loss of its tax base starting in 1989, when General
Electric Co. and General Dynamics closed their plants and 14,000
people lost their jobs. The closures drained Pittsfield of its skilled
middle class, as well as its century-old image as a strong, successful
community. The population declined to 43,000 from more than 50,000,
and the housing market tumbled.
But Pittsfield did not stay down for long. Under the leadership
of Mayor James Ruberto, the city has reinvented itself as a creative
hub for arts and innovation. The city created the Office of Cultural
Development to take advantage of its position in the heart of the
culturally rich Berkshires. It co-founded the city’s first Jazz
Festival and the annual Latino-American Family Fiesta de Pittsfield
and was instrumental in bringing back the city’s popular Ethnic
Fair. It operates the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts, a year-round
community arts center owned by the City of Pittsfield, which features
monthly exhibitions, performances, and classes, as well as nine
working artist studios and a ceramics studio.
In 2005 it created the arts overlay district, which has helped
create new space for working artists. Since then new downtown residences
have blossomed, with the creation of new apartments, condominiums,
and in turn, businesses looking to cater to the increase in foot
traffic the projects created. Pittsfield then enticed the Tony Award-winning
Barrington Stage Co. into a renovated 1912 music hall downtown after
working for years out of a high school auditorium in Sheffield.
The city invested $1 million in the restoration of the 100-year-old
Colonial Theatre, which re-opened in August 2006. The city contribution
assured $6 million in state tax credits, making the $22 million
project’s completion a reality. The Colonial Theatre – known as
“one of the greatest acoustical houses in the entire world” – now
serves as a venue for world-class performers and productions, and
as a community theater, hosting local talent from area schools,
and other performance groups.
In the latest sign of confidence in the downtown and its cultural
core, the Berkshire Museum last year opened the Feigenbaum Hall of
Innovation, a 3,000-square foot exhibition space that features changing
exhibitions focused on innovations that originated in the Berkshires
and have had worldwide influence.
For an artist, humanist, or scientist whose creative achievements
have uniquely enriched life in Massachusetts.
Grammy and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer and conductor Gunther Schuller is one of the most prominent figures in American contemporary classical music. The son of a New York Philharmonic violinist, he began his career as a horn player with the American Ballet Theatre at age 15.
His performing career included recording with Miles Davis on Birth of the Cool and stints with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in New York and Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. He has written more than 160 original compositions and has served as the Artistic Director of what was then known as the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood. At Boston’s New England Conservatory, where he served as president from 1966 to 1977, he founded the first conservatory-level jazz degree program.
For the past 30 years, Gunther’s skills as a conductor have been
in high demand. He serves as Principal Guest Conductor for Boston’s
Pro Arte Chamber Music Ensemble. Journey Into Jazz, a recording
of his compositions by the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, was
released in 2008.
In February 2009, the Boston Symphony Orchestra will present the world premiere of Schuller’s Where the World Ends at Symphony Hall in Boston.
For an individual, school, or cultural organization that has
demonstrated the importance of creativity and innovation to student
achievement and success.
Academy Charter Public School demonstrates the power of the arts
to transform education. It is an urban high school working with
almost exclusively low-income African-American students, many who
come to the school with very limited skills, and yet it is a school
that has sent all of its graduates to four-year colleges four years
in a row.
Codman received its charter from the Massachusetts Department of
Education in 2001. The school was created in response to a strong
community need for a college preparatory, small high school in the
Codman Square/Four Corners neighborhood of Boston. Under the leadership
of founder and executive director Meg Campbell, the school routinely
boasts outstanding scores on state standardized tests. But its educational
philosophy is rooted in much deeper values. The school demands that
all of its students achieve their full potential through experiential
learning, collaborative projects, and public service. It also demands
they attend school six days a week, including Saturday, from 9-5.
Yet attendance remains over 95 percent.
A cornerstone of student success at Codman has been a deep school
commitment to the arts, particularly in using theater to build critical
literacy skills and confidence. Since its inception, Codman has
had a vital partnership with the Huntington Theatre Company. Students
in grades nine and ten are on site at the theatre every other Friday
all year. All students compete in the national Poetry Out Loud competition
in grade nine and the English Shakespeare's Union's national competition
in grade ten. Each senior delivers a Senior Talk in the form of
a Socratic Apologia, or defense of his or her life, to the entire
school, drawing on four years of training in drama. This MCC-funded
partnership has been nationally recognized as an innovator in arts
education. Graduation each year is held on one of the Huntington's
main stages. Through all their theater work, Codman students learn
to have the confidence, poise and love of language and art that
makes their college mission possible, fostering a life-long appreciation
of theater. Codman has also partnered with the Boston Modern Orchestra
Project and Berklee College of Music to bring composers in residence
to work with juniors studying American History to write and produce
an original hip hop opera.
1991 at age five, Thonah Ep arrived in the US from Cambodia. Thonah’s
earliest memories involve learning the traumatic history of his
family and country. His father drew pictures while his mother provided
the painful words.
Growing up in Lynn presents many challenges -- including numerous gangs. Thonah found that the power of art could save him. In 2000 Thonah walked through the doors of Raw Art Works (RAW), where he quickly excelled. At age fourteen Thonah rose to the challenge of illustrating a book with 11 beautiful charcoal drawings and a full color cover. Thonah currently teaches at RAW and is the gallery curator. Thonah embodies RAW’s mission to ignite the desire to create and the confidence to succeed.
Thonah is a young man who creates endlessly. Working in extraordinary
depth and breadth, Thonah moves through space as if every morsel
of visual information feeds his next piece. Beyond his immense talent
-- recognized through many awards and scholarships -- what distinguishes
Thonah is his generosity as a mentor to other artists. On any given
afternoon you can find him at RAW, in the studio with a palette
in hand, or on a skateboard or dancing or having a conversation
with another artist about their most recent struggle with a piece
of art or piece of their life. He can teach a seven-year-old how
to create a self-portrait that makes them both smile inside. He
lives the art of being grateful and will thank all who help him
along the way.
For an individual, corporation, or foundation that has made
lasting contributions to the cultural life of Massachusetts through
Barbara Lee Family Foundation
December 2006 unveiling of the Institute of Contemporary Art’s new
home on the South Boston waterfront was one of the most exciting
milestones in Massachusetts’ recent cultural history. In the ensuing
two years, the local audience for adventurous, high-quality contemporary
visual art has grown exponentially. With the ICA reborn as a must-visit
destination for locals and tourists alike, the medium has attained
a newfound relevance in the everyday dialogue of the city.
This is exactly as Barbara Lee had envisioned it. She helped launch
the ICA’s $75 million capital campaign with a multi-million dollar
pledge back when many thought the goal was a pipe dream (the museum’s
325-seat theater, with its stunning harbor view, bears her name).
Barbara’s eponymous family foundation is passionately committed
to twin causes – contemporary art and women in politics. In addition
to its catalytic stewardship of the ICA, the foundation has supported
such Massachusetts arts organizations as the Essex Art Center, DeCordova
Museum and Sculpture Park, and MIT List Visual Arts Center. Barbara
has also served as a founding chair of the Isabella Stewart Gardner
Museum’s contemporary art program.
A Simmons College-educated former schoolteacher and social worker,
Barbara is committed to the idea that access to the arts improves
quality of life. Her philanthropy has enriched Massachusetts’ cultural
landscape – and made the Commonwealth a more exciting place to be.
The Behrakis Foundation
Parents and cultural leaders know the story all too well – when
school budgets are strained, the arts find a place on the chopping
block. But in times of need, we must celebrate the generous individuals
who have stepped forward to ensure that students in their community
have access to the arts.
George Behrakis of Lowell is the founder of two successful pharmaceutical
companies, Dooner Laboratories and Muro Pharmaceuticals, Inc. An
accomplished scientist and researcher, he understands the importance
of high-quality education, and recognizes that the arts are an essential
ingredient. For the past seven years, the Behrakis Foundation has
been a sustained supporter of the Fine Arts department at Lowell
High School. The generosity of George and his daughter Stephanie,
the foundation’s executive director, has given students the opportunity
to enjoy field trips to cultural organizations and experience hands-on
learning through artist residencies. The foundation has also provided
students with the necessary tools to develop their craft – tools
such as printers and artist supplies, which are often out of the
reach of school budgets.
Mr. Behrakis also played a catalytic role in the Museum of Fine
Arts’ recently completed capital campaign, by allowing his gift
to be publicly acknowledged, helping to set an example for other
leadership donors early in the campaign.
The Behrakis family has also invested in higher education throughout
Massachusetts, and their commitment to the arts in Lowell has extended
to other institutions such as the Brush Art Gallery, Lowell Folk Festival,
and Lowell Summer Music Series. Today we honor them for their understanding
that the creative minds of the future require creative learning in
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