NORTH ADAMS, MASS. — This summer’s Ninth Annual DownStreet Art (DSA) program, an initiative of Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts’ (MCLA) Berkshire Cultural Resource Center (BCRC), will feature the launch of a new “Creative Business Incubator Program,” which pairs local artists and creative workers and their pop-up galleries with student interns from MCLA. 

As part of this inaugural program, the BCRC will provide participating artists with a student intern from MCLA, who will work with them to create business and marketing plans. The artists also will enjoy support from a range of local experts, who will serve as mentors.

Participants and their galleries include Christina King of the “Butterfly Effect” gallery at 83 Main St., Mandy Johnson and James Jarzyniecki of the “Outside” gallery at 10 Ashland St., artists with the “Common Folk Artist Collective” at 22 Main St., and MCLA visiting art instructor Joshua Ostraff, who will present his “Thin Walls Studio and Workshop” at 87 Main St.

According to Jessica Sweeney ’11, creative director of the Common Folk Artist Collective, the Incubator Program is an opportunity for her group to test their ideas, leverage their potential and take their organization to the next level

“We have an opportunity to define what that collaboration looks like, and capitalize on it. I don’t know if we’d be where we are today without the help of the folks in MCLA’s arts management program,” Sweeney said.

As an architect, “Outside” co-creator Johnson noted she has experience in design, curation and project management. She hopes to gain “a lot of insight regarding gallery management and ‘back-of-house’ through working with an intern who specializes in the field.”

“Our interest and goal in developing this project is to cultivate collaboration and creative community,” said Jarzyniecki, who also is an architect. “We’re very excited to continue working with our great lineup of artists and provide them the opportunity to showcase their work.”

According to Samwise Fox ’17 of Pittsfield, Mass., the student-intern who will work with Johnson and Jarzyniecki, “This not only enhances my educational experience through strengthening my leadership skills, team-working skills and arts management brain, but it helps to feed my soul and my heart, too.”

Isaac Wood ’17 of Norwood, Mass., expects to gain a better understanding of how a small business works by assisting a working artist. This experience, he said, will provide a glimpse of what he might expect in the future, for the letterpress and printmaking studio he aspires to create. 

Wood will work with Ostraff in the “Thin Walls Studio and Gallery,” which will focus on two projects.

The first, “Tuesday,” will examine shared experiences through paintings that look at the parallels, difference and simultaneous nature of what’s occurring in the North Adams community within a specific day and time. Ostraff’s second project will center on an experience he had as a teenager living in the South Pacific Islands of Tonga.

“I like the idea that the community can watch my work in progress, respond to it, and through that impact instigate an unknown trajectory before completion,” Ostraff explained.

King, an elementary art teacher in North Adams Public Schools, also is a clinical psychotherapist who creates expressive paintings in response to people and their environment. She said she decided to participate in the program because of the energy and enthusiasm created by DownStreet Art.

“I look forward to having someone who is invested in learning and expanding their skills to help me improve my abilities to navigate and promote my creative work,” King said.

The first DownStreet Art Thursday kicks off on Thursday, June 30, beginning at 5 p.m. Additional Thursday events will continue on July 28, Aug. 25 and Sept. 23.

The public is encouraged to attend these free events, which will celebrate local art and the community with this year’s theme of “Meet Your Neighbors.” Artists who live and work within 20 miles of North Adams will be highlighted throughout the season.

This first DownStreet Art Thursday of 2016 will include works of visual art on display in museums, galleries and non-traditional spaces; the grand openings of four creative incubator spaces; live podcasting, musical and theatrical performances; a night market featuring local food and craft vendors; and the announcement of the Levitt Amp North Adams concert lineup.

MCLA’s Berkshire Cultural Resource Center (BCRC) provides opportunities, resources and support to the Northern Berkshire Community. The BCRC brings together the Northern Berkshire, MCLA and greater creative communities through its cultural programming, including: MCLA Gallery 51, DownStreet Art, Berkshire Hills Internship Program (B-HIP), and MCLA Presents! The BCRC promotes, facilitates and encourages a dialogue to foster a sustainable, creative community.

Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) is the Commonwealth’s public liberal arts college and a campus of the Massachusetts state university system. MCLA promotes excellence in learning and teaching, innovative scholarship, intellectual creativity, public service, applied knowledge, and active and responsible citizenship. MCLA graduates are prepared to be practical problem solvers and engaged, resilient global citizens.

For more information about DownStreet Art events and the BCRC, go to   and