The Northampton Arts Council is an organization whose goal is to support and promote the arts in Northampton. Originally created as a Local Arts Lottery Council, it began its work by administering a grants program in which proceeds from a state lottery are distributed to local artists, arts groups, and public schools.


The Northampton Arts Council Biennial is held every other year at Forbes Library’s Hosmer Gallery during the month of October. The Arts Council Biennial is a juried art exhibit and poetry event with free entry, open to artists and poets from Hampden, Hampshire, Franklin, and Berkshire counties. Each year the arts council board creates a theme from which artists are encouraged to select and derive their work. Past themes have included Motion Emotion, Be Here Now, Water and Give Us Your Best. This theme can be interpreted freely, and all two and three-dimensional art in any style, as well as video and performance art will be considered. The Arts Council also encourages submissions of performance art, and large 3-dimensional, weather-tolerant art for the outdoor exhibition space on the Forbes Library lawn.

In recent years the Arts Council has chosen to integrate a poetry component into the Biennial. Local poets can submit up to 3 poems of previously published or unpublished work. These poems are displayed in the Hosmer Gallery throughout the Biennial and a Biennial Poetry Reading is held in the Forbes Library’s Calvin Coolidge Reading Room to hear directly from the poets selected.

Each year the Arts Council selects a well-rounded panel of jurors, professionals in the field who represent various aspects of the art community in western Massachusetts. Past jurors include Aprile Gallant, Curator of Prints, Drawings and Photographs at Smith College Museum of Art, Julia Courtney, Curator of Art at the D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts, visual artist Gordon Thorne and visual artist David Teeple.

By hosting the Biennial, the Northampton Arts Council hopes to continue its mission of nurturing connections between artists, writers and art lovers and contribute to a vital, sustaining art community in Western Massachusetts.

Past Themes:

2017: Give us your best
2015: Motion Emotion
2013: Be Here Now
2011: Water

Past Jurors:

2017: Rosemary Tracy Woods from Art for Soul Gallery in Springfield; Justin Kimball, photographer and faculty member at Amherst College; and H. Emerson Blake, Editor-in-Chief at Orion Magazine. Poetry jurors include Northampton’s poet laureate Amy Dryansky; Diana Babineau Owen, Managing Editor at Orion Magazine; and Robbie Dunning, poet.

2015: Aprile Gallant, Curator of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs at the Smith College Museum of Art, Paul Gulla, Gallery Manager for R. Michelson Galleries, and Julia Courtney, Curator of Art at the D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts.

2013: Gordon Thorne is a visual artist. He is the Director of A.P.E. which he founded in 1977 and the Open Field Foundation, created in 1996. Mara Williams is the Chief Curator of the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center.

2011: David Teeple, Visual Artist whose work focuses on water.

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