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Remarks from the 2024 Annual Meeting

2023 was our first complete year at Main Street Studios and our first complete year with our new structure.  There were a lot of firsts.  We tried quite a few new ideas.  Some were a success.  Some were flops.  Some were meh.  Some we will try again.  All helps us as we look forward to the next year and beyond.


Part of our new structure has been a revamped membership program.  Membership is a key source of revenue, but also how we build the core of our purpose – an alliance of artists, creative professionals and organizations in North Central MA.  Since the launch in November 2022, our membership revenue has doubled.  We continue to attract new members and build the connection with our loyal supporters.  This year, we joined the MCC Card to Culture program, through which we offer free memberships to EBT and WIC card holders.  We continue to grow our reach beyond Fitchburg, connecting with artists throughout the Montachusett region.


Members were listed in the 2023 Arts and Culture Directory.  Copies are available at Main Street Studios. Encourage others to join us and help build our reach and grow the relationships between creatives, audience, and residents in this area.


All six studios were occupied by working artists in 2023.  They work in various media including photography, music, mixed media, painting, textiles, digital drawing, and clay. 


Over the last year, Main Street Studios offered a growing list of programs that included script readings, community conversations, pop up art markets, public art tours, and an open art night every Tuesday.   We hosted exhibitions with NoWoCo Pride and the MA Women’s Caucus of Art as well as regular displays of our resident and member artists.  Main Street Studios has also provided space for the Civic Ambassador Stewards, Stratton Players, yoga classes, band rehearsals, a performance by the Thurston Consort, and NoWoCo Pride events.

In May, we hosted the Janet Cragin Youth Awards at Main Street Studios.  16 students from Longsjo, Memorial, and Sizer Middle Schools were nominated by their teachers for their excellence in visual art, music, drama, and writing.  This room was filled beyond capacity with family, friends, and teachers who celebrated these young people and why art was important to them.  Here are a few examples of what some of the students shared about that value:

Lila, Longsjo, 8th Grade said

“Art is so important to me because my dad taught me all about art.  Art got my dad through some hard times, now it’s the same for me.  The most important thing art has given me is a special bond with my dad.”

 

Nalyce, Sizer, 7th Grade  

“The arts are important to me because it gives me a way to paint or create a happy place in my mind and others.  It gives me a way to let loose of all the stress and create my way out of it.  I feel when I make art that you can create emotions just with colors, and that gives me an advantage in creating my life.”

 

Trent, Sizer, 8th Grade

  The arts are important to me because the arts can give you a meaning to life in ways nothing else can.  The arts can also be a great pastime for people like me who like writing a lot.  One last reason is because they can be used in certain careers like bank accountants.”


In 2023, we were the leading organization for Fitchburg Open Studios.  On September 30 and October 1, 21 artists in Fitchburg, Ashby, and Ashburnham shared their work and work spaces with the public.  We received grants from the Mass Cultural Council and the Creative Cities Dream It Create program.  We look forward to building on that momentum in 2024 and expanding the partnership with artists in Ashburnham, especially through Creative Cities Gallery and the New Dawn Arts Center.  Fitchburg Open Studios will take place on October 19 and 20.


In November, we celebrated our 45th Anniversary, as well as two of our favorite members and leaders – Ellen DiGeronimo and Jennifer Jones.  We filled the hall at the Armory with nearly 100 guests.  With the support of our sponsors, our guests, and you our members, we were able to raise nearly $8,000 to support our operating costs.  This event was the launch of our Fitchburg Creative Hall of Fame, which we will celebrate again in September.





The Creative Hall of Fame will help us continue to tell our story and raise the profile of our members who have contributed to the creative culture and economy of this area for many years.  This year we will celebrate the theater arts.  Over the years, several local theaters have been part of the FCA – including founding member, Stratton Players.  We hope to tell their story, as well as the stories of other members including New Players, High Tor, and the performing arts at the schools in the region.  Additionally, each month we host script readings and Broadway Karaoke, to emphasize that theater is for anyone who wants to participate.  And have fun.  I hope you will join the fun on September 21 for the Broadway Ball. 







Something I discovered in getting ready for our anniversary celebration was the fact an original name for FCA was the Montachusett Cultural Alliance.  I haven’t discovered why it changed – if anyone knows, I’d appreciate the insight.  It is the goal of Fitchburg to be the gateway to arts and culture of North Central Mass.  Through our membership and programs like the Arts & Culture Directory and Open Studios, we can be more than a gate.  We can be a guide or map, connecting these communities and their resources to one another and to visitors.

Now that we have had a year of firsts, we have a year ahead to grow.  A year to continue learning, growing, and telling the story of art and culture in North Central MA.


I hope you will be part of the story we tell in 2024.


Visit us at Main Street Studios.  Make art here.


Volunteer to help at one of our events. 


Invite your friends.  Build the creative community in North Central Mass.


Be well.  Be creative.

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