Minerva Arts Center Co-founder and Artistic Director Kathleen O’Mara is enthusiastic about the organization’s future, despite the challenges it faces.
Established in 2010, Minerva Arts Center moved into the former Our Lady of Incarnation Church on Massachusetts Avenue in North Adams. The building would be alive with activity for nearly two years - workshops being conducted - musicals being rehearsed and more. Then in February 2012, Minerva Arts Center vacated the building.
"The last performance in the building was ‘The Nutcracker’ on Dec. 28, 2011. Properties, stage equipment and backdrops have been moved into storage," said O’Mara in a recent interview. "The organization is looking at different possible sites to move into to continue workshops, produce plays and hold special events. Under the advisement of our financial advisors and architects, we are putting together a plan."
Christa Jan Ryan, a member of the Minerva Arts Center board of directors, chimed in. "We need larger rehearsal and performance spaces, a bigger classroom and visual arts gallery."
While examining options for a new home, the Minerva Arts Center organization has stayed steadfast to its core mission to promote the importance of an arts-based education by providing high-quality programming, to inspire creativity in the community and to offer opportunities for students and adults of all ages to realize their true artistic potential.
"(For instance) in March, we produced ‘Cannibal’ at the Polish National Alliance Club in Adams. It is a fun musical based on a true story written by Trey Parker," said O’Mara referring to the co-author of the hit Broadway show "The Book of Mormons."
"In the summer months, we rented space in a building on Union St. in North Adams to hold summer workshops, filmmaking workshops and Gleek workshops for children. Inspired by the popular T.V. program Glee, Gleek is a workshop in which students explore a wide range of dance, song and theatre.
Now in the fall, Minerva Arts Center is offering Gleek workshops at a different site: The First Congregational Church in Williamstown.
"Kathy is the Pied Piper of Northern Berkshires working in the community with multi-aged children who need direction to fulfill their artistic desires," Ryan commented.
Producing a new work is always exciting, and in mid-October actors and actresses who are community members will come together to do "a read through of ‘Silent Screams’ - a musical." O’Mara said, adding that "Silent Screams" was written by Christa Jan Ryan, and probably will be produced next spring"
Ryan writes and hosts the TV program MAC News which airs on WilliNet Channel 17 in Williamstown and the Northern Berkshire Community Television Company’s Channels 15 and 16, which serve North Adams, Adams, Clarksburg and Cheshire.
"We do segments about different families who have been active in the MAC for years," Ryan said. "It’s a diverse program with entertainment and reports on what is going on in workshops and with the MAC in general."
It was by chance that Ryan and O’Mara met for the first time in the spring of 2011."My husband and I went into the Tag Sale Center in Williamstown, after I finished writing "Silent Screams" and was looking for someone to produce it. We ran into Kathleen O’Mara in the store. I had no idea who she was," said Ryan who relocated from Long Island to the Berkshires several years ago. "Now, Kathy helps guide me on what to do."
The Tag Sale Center, 600 Main St., Williamstown, is maintained and operated by Minerva Arts Center. "The treasures within are 100 percent donated by community members," said O’Mara. "All proceeds are put into a saving account to pay bills, pay for promotions and to fund a new building for Minerva Arts Center."
Time will not stand still as Minerva Arts Center looks for a new home, but keeping with theatrical tradition the third annual "Holiday Showcase" will go on in December. Exact date and place to be announced. "Holiday Showcase" celebrates world religions, and showcases local multi-aged talent," said O’Mara.
When holiday fun and entertainment have become just a memory, the public will have an opportunity to attend a red-carpet event that will lift their spirits.
Student Independent Film Festival
Minerva Arts Center, in collaboration with Images Cinema and WilliNet, will organize and produce the ninth annual SIFF, which takes place Feb. 9 at Images Cinema, 50 Spring St., Williamstown.
Yes, the Minerva Arts Center has much to offer now and in the future.