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Cultural Council Awards $5,400 in Grants

Feb 28, 2017 07:00AM ● Published by Pamela Johnson

Shown (L-R): Terry McGlynn, Paul and Theresa Szuflicki, State Rep. Kevin Kuros & BCC Chair Linda Trudeau

The Bellingham Cultural Council (BCC), the local funding arm of the Massachusetts Cultural Council, distributes grant money for local projects in town with a focus on the arts and humanities. For this most recent grant cycle the Council had a total of $5,400 to give out, which was distributed among 17 recipients. These grant recipients were invited to a reception at the Bellingham Public Library on February 4th. Council Chairperson in Bellingham, Linda Trudeau, explained that the reception was a new procedure and that the council hoped that the grant recipients could use the opportunity to get better acquainted with one another, as well as have a chance to meet with the members of the council whose work has helped fund the various programs.

“Don’t be afraid to ask for more than you think you might need,” Trudeau urged the grant recipients. “There have been instances when grants were not able to be used, and we have to distribute the money. There have been times we wished some applicants had asked for more so we could have awarded them additional monies.”

“Local cultural councils provide important support for the arts,” noted State Rep. Kevin Kuros. “I am happy to continue to support the much-needed cultural council grants.”
The grant recipients were invited to introduce themselves to the entire group, and we learned about a wide variety of programs that the Cultural Council supports. The library received grants for five separate programs, including storyteller David Bates and Roger Tinknell, who will be coming to Bellingham during the Library’s summer reading program. Stall Brook School received a grant to fund David Zucker’s “Poetry in Motion” program. The Milford Community Chorus received a grant, as did the 4-H Club in Bellingham, which will put the money toward their robotics program.

The Massachusetts Walking Tour was a grant recipient that drew a lot of interest—two folk musicians, Mark Mandeville and Raianne Richard, will visit Bellingham as part of their two-week walking tour of the Blackstone Valley. The musicians will backpack from one town to the next over a period of two weeks, camping in each town along the way, and each evening will offer a free concert. Each concert will be open to the public, and the public will be invited to participate in the concert itself. So get your songs and zithers warmed up! The Walking Tour will arrive in Bellingham on Thursday, June 22. Find lots more information about their 8th annual tour at www.masswalkingtour.org.

ABMI’s annual Concerts on the Grass was another recipient. The Bellingham Senior Center received a couple of different grants, and the Blackstone Valley Regional Technical High School was given a grant to help purchase materials for their art program. The Bellingham Friends of Music was another recipient. “Our grant will fund visiting conductors who will come into the schools, grades 5-12, to work with the students,” said Marie Forte, Director of the Bellingham High School Fine Arts program. “We now require each fifth-grade student to choose either Band or Chorus, so it at least gets each student exposed to music.”

Joanne Featherston, Director of the Bellingham High Drama Club, thanked the council for the grant to support the club. “This is our second year,” Featherstone noted.” We began the program with no funds, and no school support. We are trying to be self-sustaining.” She continued, “I volunteered as the drama director for many years at the middle school, and now those students are at the high school, so we have a lot of interest.”

In conclusion, Trudeau said, “All arts are an apprenticeship, but the biggest art is our life.” The funds that are distributed through these grants are available only because of the volunteer efforts of the Cultural Council members. Year after year they faithfully work to assure that the grant money is spent well and that there is substantial community benefit from the grants. It was exciting to hear from so many of the most recent recipients and to learn about what is going to be happening in the community in the coming year.
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