Photo by Ivory Henry, 2021

Barr, JMAC Increase Access For Creatives

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The Jean McDonough Arts Center will receive $545,000 in funding from the Barr Foundation to expand equitable use of the Worcester PopUp and BrickBox Theater

WORCESTER, MA – January 6, 2022 The Barr Foundation has awarded $545,000 to the Worcester Cultural Coalition (WCC) to support the arts community, with an emphasis on uplifting historically marginalized and underrepresented groups.

As part of its plan for the funds, the WCC is launching multiple initiatives aimed at helping individuals and organizations bring their creative visions to life. Over the next twelve months, the funding will provide three types of opportunities at the Jean McDonough Arts Center (JMAC), an arts-and-cultural space located in Downtown Worcester: 

Rental subsidy of the BrickBox Theater:Qualifying organizations and individuals can receive venue rental costs at no charge on a first-come-first-serve basis, until funds are exhausted. 

One-day event sponsorship: Up to ten presenters will receive venue rental and staffing costs for a one-day event, and up to $2,500 for discretionary expenses, at no charge.

Month-long residency at the JMAC: Up to three presenters will be selected for a one-month residency, including all venue space rental and staffing costs, up to $15,000 in discretionary funds, and exclusive use of the JMAC for the final week of each residency, at no charge.

Applications for all three opportunities are available through JMACWorcester.org. Priority will be given to individuals and groups which identify as led by, or focused on, historically marginalized or underrepresented groups, such as BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ communities. Worcester Cultural Coalition members, which are local cultural nonprofits, are also encouraged to apply.

“The JMAC is committed to equity and inclusion of the many types of art, culture, and creativity that exist in our region, and to diversity in its presenters and audiences. It was developed to help fill a gap in affordability and accessibility in Worcester’s arts and culture scene, both for the public and the creators,” said Erin Williams, executive director of the Worcester Cultural Coalition. “Paired with the dedicated JMAC staff, these Barr funds will improve access to the JMAC and its resources, furthering the venue’s mission in meaningful ways, and helping to boost engagement and support the continued resiliency of the arts ecosystem as we continue to navigate the pandemic.”

“We believe that artists are the building blocks of our communities,” noted SueEllen Kroll, Senior Program Officer for Arts & Creativity at the Barr Foundation. “The JMAC is a critical cultural home and community space for Worcester’s BIPOC and underserved artists so that their voices, creativity, and stories are uplifted and celebrated. We are proud to partner with the Worcester Cultural Coalition to ensure artists have the support to get back to work and lead in their communities as we transition back to in-person creative experiences.”

“The JMAC team already caters to creatives without a Broadway budget,” noted Eric Butler, Chair of the Worcester Cultural Coalition Board. “Nevertheless, all the costs associated with working in a professional venue can remain a hurdle. We’re grateful to the Barr Foundation for these funds, which will further reduce these barriers by augmenting what’s already happening at the JMAC with more support for underserved creatives and local cultural organizations.”

“We hosted the El Salón collective for our pilot residency in 2021,” said PopUp Managing Director Hank von Hellion. “The experience challenged their artists to use the venue in creative ways, and challenged us to help them not only execute events, but also make the JMAC their home, a place to fully realize their creative visions.”

“We’re excited to take what we learned from that experience and build upon it this coming year,” added BrickBox Managing Director Olivia Scanlon.

“I can enthusiastically say these initiatives are a win for everyone they will touch – from the JMAC and WCC to those who will have their voices heard, from those who will hear these voices, and to all who will feel the echo,” said Butler, who has used the space as both an independent presenter and in his work with the WCLOC Theater Company.

Interested presenters are invited to a Q+A session at the JMAC on January 12, 2022 from 6:30pm – 7:30pm. In-person RSVP and link to livestream are available at BarrQA.eventbrite.com. Full details regarding COVID-19 safety protocols are available at JMACWorcester.org/covid19.

Additional details about the JMAC/Barr accessibility initiative, including eligibility requirements and application forms, are available at JMACWorcester.org/BarrInitiative.

About the Worcester Cultural Coalition: The Worcester Cultural Coalition (WCC) is a public-private partnership established in 1999 between the City of Worcester and 12 cultural organizations. In 2021, membership stands at 80 organizations, which host over 2.7 million visitors annually, from Worcester and beyond. Its mission is to draw on Worcester’s rich and diverse cultural assets to foster economic revitalization, support active and creative engagement for all, and to promote a strong cultural identity for Greater Worcester. The WCC supports and encourages action that meets the creative goals of the Worcester Cultural Plan: promoting cultural equity and creative community engagement for all. Learn more at WorcesterCulture.org.

About the Jean McDonough Arts Center: Comprising the ever-changing “permanent” PopUp and the intimate BrickBox Theater, the Jean McDonough Arts Center (JMAC) is an initiative of the Worcester Cultural Coalition, operated in partnership with The Hanover Theatre and Conservatory for the Performing Arts. The JMAC is home to myriad creative events and cultural initiatives. Individuals and groups can present or develop a wide range of work at the JMAC, including but not limited to work in theater dance, film, music, performance art, visual art, fashion design and video game design. Completion of the JMAC was made possible with the generosity of the late Jean McDonough and the McDonough family. Learn more at JMACWorcester.org.

About the Barr Foundation: The Barr Foundation’s mission is to invest in human, natural, and creative potential, serving as thoughtful stewards and catalysts. Based in Boston, Barr focuses regionally, and selectively engages nationally, working in partnership with nonprofits, foundations, the public sector, and civic and business leaders to elevate the arts, advance solutions for climate change, and connect all students to success in high school and beyond. Founded in 1997, Barr now has assets in excess of $3 billion, and has contributed more than $1 billion to charitable causes. For more information, visit barrfoundation.org and @BarrFdn on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. 

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