Home to the Larcom Theatre, one of oldest theaters in the country, Beverly, Mass. is undoubtedly a city of the arts. In an effort to magnify the city’s position as a community with a strong support of the arts, the Beverly Cultural Council (BCC) has chosen its 2013 grant winners.
A total of $8,963 will go to 19 artists or groups representing a broad range of arts. This includes a series of performances, a singular performance, an art gallery, and a poet that performs in various and obscure locations all over the city.
“We have done community surveys over the past three years asking residents of Beverly what they prefer we do with what we get from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and the community has identified that we serve children, young people and also senior citizens,” said Gail Eaton, co-chair of the Beverly Cultural Council. “We feel also that we’re providing support to arts events that are affordable and accessible to the community. That’s why a lot of the things we’ve supported are free.”
In selecting the 19 winners, Eaton added, 10 BCC council members narrowed their decision from 42 applications this year. The winners were chosen based on the quality of the event, the relevance to the organization’s goals, the event’s accessibility and the number of people it’s going to serve.
“We’re hoping to continue our work towards positioning Beverly as a destination community that is very supportive of the arts, a place where visitors and residents can encounter arts and culture in the streets, in the parks and in the community,” Eaton said. “It’s important to us because we believe strongly that the arts improve the quality of life in any community and this community especially because of its long history of performing and arts.”
One grant winner is the Improbable Places Poetry Tour headed by poetry lover and director of the writing studio at Montserrat College of Art, Colleen Michaels.
The Beverly resident garners a crowd of about 60 to 100 people at out-of-the-ordinary venues, like tattoo parlors, auto repair shops, paint stores, laundromats and diners for her poetry tour. She chooses about 18 out of her nearly 40 submissions from Montserrat students, local politicians and community members for each performance, which occurs every other month. Each session has a theme, for example, her latest performance was at City Side Diner and featured poems about the service industry, waitresses and food. There are six tours per season.
“I’ve been so grateful, on a small scale, just knowing that you’re town has said yes to you, is a wonderful feeling to know you have support,” Michaels said. “Each tour stop has gotten bigger with more submissions, larger audiences and venues asking me if I’ll have a reading. It’s a wonderful thing to have your community ask for more.”
There is no particular poetry style for the sessions, Michaels added, and she normally gets a good mix of experience.
As for the grant money, Michaels intends on using it to “give the tour a second life,” to work with video artists, photographers and letter press and print designers to make hand-made posters to put up throughout the community.
“We have had a long history of the arts,” Eaton said. “Art is very much a part of the identity of Beverly.”
The 2013 Beverly Cultural Council grant recipients are as follows:
Denise Doucette - Musical Programs
North Shore Concert Band- Concert
Delvena Theater Company Play - All The Presidents' Women
Music at Eden's Edge- Concert
Beverly Public Library Fun- With Fossils & Dinosaurs
Janet Applefield- “Combating Hate & Prejudice” at Briscoe Middle School
Beverly Northshoremen Barbershop Chorus- Concert
Cove Elementary School PTO- Potato Hill Poetry
Bekah Jordan- 5th Wall Immersive Theater
Ayers Ryal Side Elementary- Macbeth, Shakespeare Now!
Sarah E. Johnson Reconstructed - Art Show
St. Mary School- Museum of Science Tray Program
Quintessential Brass- Concert
Improbable Places Poetry Tour- Six readings
North Shore Art Throb- Magazine and Web Site
Eileen Herman-Haase Dance Performance
Sea Change Theater Company- Four Productions
Express Yourself Revitalization- Mural Project
Hannah Elementary School PTO- Museum of Science, Boston