MCLA Receives NEA Grant and Launches Berkshire County Blueprint for Arts Integration and Education


NORTH ADAMS, MASS.—The Fine and Performing Arts Department’s arts management program at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) has received a $100,000 Art Works grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to support the implementation of The C4 Initiative: Creative Compact for Collective Impact. This collective impact project aims to increase access to arts integration and arts education throughout the region. 

The College sought the funding to formalize its role as the backbone organization for the C4: Creative Compact for Collective Impact Initiative — an arts integration and education initiative employing a regional approach to align the rich cultural assets of Berkshire County with public schools in 13 mostly rural districts. MCLA manages the C4 Advisory Council, a 20-person group with representatives from educational, cultural, workforce, and youth development networks. Finally, the grant will provide administrative and communications support to catalyze the “Blueprint for Arts Integration and Education.” 

The recently launched “Blueprint” is a vision for what every young person in Berkshire County should have access to given the region’s rich cultural assets. In addition to being home to great natural beauty, farms, and a rich history, Berkshire County is home to a wide range of cultural organizations. The authors of the Blueprint and those who have played an essential role in its development believe that all students attending the County’s public schools should experience a K-12 education that takes full advantage of these cultural assets, graduating from high school with a sense of pride of place and the skills necessary to succeed in an economy where all work requires some aspect of creativity and problem-solving skills.

“I am pleased to congratulate MCLA on receiving this Federal award,” said Anita Walker, Mass Cultural Council’s executive director. “This grant will support critical work in the Berkshires and allow MCLA, as a leader of the C4 Initiative, to engage meaningfully with local youth, communities of color, and arts organizations.”

The Mass Cultural Council is a state agency that promotes excellence, inclusion, education, and diversity in the arts, humanities, and sciences, fosters a rich cultural life for all Massachusetts residents, and contributes to the vitality of our communities and economy. The Council pursues this mission through a wide range of grants, initiatives, and advocacy for artists, communities, organizations, and schools. 

“With this grant we have a tremendous opportunity to fully integrate the extraordinary cultural assets of Berkshire County into the education of our young people,” said MCLA arts management professor Dr. Lisa Donovan. “We intend for this work to improve student academic and career readiness outcomes, build creative capacity, and endow year-round residents of Berkshire County with a sense of pride in and ownership of our vast cultural resources.”

This work builds on collaborative work with area cultural organizations, supported by two previous National Endowment for the Arts grants and funding from the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation and Barr Foundation. 

Collective Impact grants focus on arts education programs that encompass entire schools, school districts and/or states. The Collective Impact projects are changing the conversation on arts education by moving it from an isolated exchange about a specific program to a shared discussion about how to transform an entire school district, or an entire community, by ensuring that all students have access to an arts education. Art Works grants support the creation of art, public engagement with art, lifelong learning in the arts, and enhancement of the livability of communities through the arts.