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2009 Recipients

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
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 hierarchies.”

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 Mass Cultural Council-funded initiative generated $175,000 in direct expenditures and over $400,000 in total economic benefit for the local economy.

Worcester Cultural Coalition
Hanover Theatre in Worcester 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 public.

Louis Casagrande, Children's Museum, Boston
Lou Casagrande 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 tenure.

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 and beyond.

Creative Community
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 Ruberto
Silver Swimmers at Pittsfield Third Thursdays 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.

Individual Achievement
For an artist, humanist, or scientist whose creative achievements have uniquely enriched life in Massachusetts.

Gunther Schuller
Gunther Schuller

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.

Creative Learning
For an individual, school, or cultural organization that has demonstrated the importance of creativity and innovation to student achievement and success.

Codman Academy
Codman Academy student showcaseCodman 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 Mass Cultural Council-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.

Thonah Ep
Thonah EpIn 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.

Cultural Philanthropy
For an individual, corporation, or foundation that has made lasting contributions to the cultural life of Massachusetts through charitable giving.

Barbara Lee Family Foundation
Barbara LeeThe 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
The Behrakis Family 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 school today.

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