Northampton Arts Council

The Northampton Arts Council works to support and nurture the arts in the city of Northampton. The Council awards grants twice each year to artists and arts groups from both state and locally-raised funds, and seeks to improve public awareness of the arts. Its' goals include maintaining and preserving the rich and diverse cultural heritage of Northampton, programming such annual events of interest to the community as First Night Northampton and Transperformance.

    Thursday, October 14, 2021

    American Rescue Plan in Northampton

    Developing a Transparent, Strategic & Equitable Plan for Northampton's Federal COVID-19 Funding
    Survey Opportunity

    All Northampton adult residents, people who work in or own a Northampton business or organization, and people who live out of town but own property in Northampton are encouraged to complete the below survey by November 19, 2021.

    Spanish Survey

    Earlier this year, Congress passed the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), a far-reaching COVID recovery measure proposed by the Biden-Harris Administration. President Biden signed ARPA into law on March 11, 2021.

    This $1.9 trillion measure provides direct financial relief to Americans, assistance to businesses, and aid to states, counties, and municipalities.

    In total, Northampton will receive $21,747,984.00 in ARPA funds over the course of the next two years. All of the funding must be committed by December 31, 2024 and fully expended by December 31, 2026.

    How can Northampton Spend the Money? There are four acceptable categories of use:
    - Respond to the public health emergency or its negative economic impacts, including assistance to households, small businesses, and nonprofits, or aid to impacted industries such as tourism, travel, and hospitality.
    - Pay workers providing essential work during the COVID-19 public health emergency.
    - Provide government services to the extent of the reduction in revenue to the City due to the COVID-19 public health emergency in the most recent full fiscal year.
    - Make necessary investments in water, sewer, or broadband infrastructure.

    Goals for Distributing ARPA Funds:
    - Seek extensive input and feedback from the community to help structure the city's use of ARPA funding
    - Design a transparent, accessible, and equitable project selection process for allocating funds
    - Prioritize projects, people, businesses, and organizations with a focus on those most impacted by COVID-19
    - Leverage other state and federal resources to maximize Northampton’s ARPA funding
    - Cover the city’s costs to administer ARPA funds

    Thursday, October 7, 2021

    Northampton Arts Council | Meeting Norms - Proposed by Equity Subcommittee

     Northampton Arts Council | Meeting Norms - Proposed by Equity Subcommittee

    • Use “I” statements: speak from your own experience and perspective; be careful not to speak for others or for groups

    • Assume Good Intentions: recognize your own personal privileges & biases 

    • Call in, not out: point out problems in ways that empower people to be part of the solution 

    • Recognize intention vs. impact: you may not intend to do harm, but if you do, apologize, accept responsibility, and do better

    • Lean into discomfort: hurt and discomfort are opportunities for growth 

    • Respect people’s pronouns and gender-identity: don’t assume pronouns; if you’re unsurely defaulting to “they” is OK

    • Stories Stay, Lessons Leave: respect confidentiality and personal stories, especially in 1:1 conversations and subcommittee work  

    • Stay open to feedback: when people call you in, consider this a gift and a learning opportunity 

    • Be mindful of airtime: if you’ve spoken a lot, create space for others; be mindful of the privileged identities you may hold 

    Set clear boundaries and consequences as a team: we are responsible for creating our own culture of accountability

    Tuesday, October 5, 2021

    On the Decision to Cancel the Northampton Biennial

    On the Decision to Cancel the Northampton Biennial

    Brian Foote and Danielle Amodeo

    Dear Neighbors,

    On Tuesday, September 28, 2021, the Northampton Arts Council voted to cancel this year’s visual art and poetry Biennial. The Biennial was created fifteen years ago by several former arts council members as an opportunity for artists from all of the counties in Western Massachusetts to submit their work without an entrance fee. Entrance fees for exhibitions can be prohibitive for many; the founding of the Biennial was an early attempt at making the arts accessible and equitable. The Council’s decision to cancel this year’s Biennial aligns with that initial founding intention: to make the arts accessible and equitable for everyone in our community.

    At our most recent public meeting, several local Indigenous artists voiced their concerns about one of the artworks selected for the Biennial. This intervention brought to the fore the ways in which the entire Biennial production process was not aligned with our mission as an arts organization. One Indigenous artist called for the Biennial to be canceled and redone more equitably. As a result, one of our council members moved to cancel the Biennial. The Council voted 4 yes, 2 no, and 1 abstention. The Council did not cancel the Biennial to censor the artwork in question, but rather to redress the harm done in the production process of this exhibition and to prevent further harm.

    To provide further context, the Council voted to cancel this event because the process by which the Biennial was produced did not align with our equity statement. We acknowledge that canceling the show is an imperfect solution and know that this will be disappointing to some in our community. However, the need for last week’s intervention from Indigenous artists is a symptom of racism within the Arts Council, within the Northampton arts community, and within our city. Letting the show go on as it had been designed would have caused further harm to BIPOC artists and others who have already been excluded and marginalized from the Northampton arts community.

    Discussions and criticism around the planning process of the Biennial are not new. The Biennial subcommittee lost two members this year: one left due to work commitments and the other resigned from the subcommittee, citing hostility from the Biennial’s lead organizer. The Council should have moved to cancel the Biennial when the culture of the subcommittee was called into question and when it became clear that there might not have the people-power needed to produce an event of this scale responsibly. For these decisions, we sincerely apologize.

    We know that there is no way to make everyone happy right now. As such, our purview is to do no more harm. To do that, we need to take pause, listen to those most harmed in our community, and call them into our processes moving forward. Our choice to cancel isn’t about censorship or being politically correct. It’s about caring for our community and holding ourselves accountable for the harm that this process caused to the Indigenous artists that came forward.

    When it comes to calling off exhibitions with racist content, the Northampton Arts Council is in good company: the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Walker Arts Center have recently canceled exhibitions that community members have cited as causing harm, not only due to the content of the works on view, but also due to the process by which the exhibitions were created. Canceling the show this year gives the Council the time we need to reflect and engage the community in conversations about improving our process. We hope you’ll join us for those conversations and the changes that follow.

    We apologize to BIPOC artists and other historically excluded artists; we will do better in the future. We apologize to the artists whose works were selected for this year’s Biennial for canceling on short notice. Several of you have written in support of the decision to cancel, and we thank you for your solidarity and understanding.

    For those who are angered, confused, or disappointed, we hope you can find it in your hearts and minds to understand why the Council canceled the show. We invite you to sit with your discomfort, reflect alongside us, and try to respect this decision.

    Artists, we appreciate the work you do for our community and hope that you’ll submit to future callings for work with the understanding and trust that we want to produce the best artistic programming possible. You are why we do what we do.


    Brian Foote (he, him, his)

    Director of Arts & Culture


    Danielle Amodeo (she, her, hers)

    Northampton Arts Council Chair

    Northampton Arts Council Equity Statement

    The Northampton Arts Council believes that art is for everyone. We strive to produce, support, and sustain arts and cultural initiatives that uphold all people—including but not limited to those who have been historically marginalized based on race/ethnicity, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, neurodiversity, socioeconomic status, geography, citizenship status, or religion. We affirm the need to redress historical inequities in the arts and cultural sector and commit to supporting equitable and inclusive practices through all aspects of our work.

    Friday, October 1, 2021


    Due to the recent intervention of local Indigenous artists, it has been determined that not only did the 2021 NAC Biennial contain harmful genocidal art, but that the entire selection process did not include the voices and the art of this community. We also recognize that this is just the tip of a larger issue surrounding equity in exhibitions and that we need to find a more inclusive and representative way forward.

    Therefore, the Council has voted to cancel the entire biennial. In the weeks ahead we are going to step back and re-examine our process with the goal of becoming more accountable and inclusive of each and all of our marginalized BIPOC communities.

    The arts council board would like to thank the artists and poets who have submitted their work. We acknowledge the time, effort, and expense you have put into your submissions and to recognize the difficulty and disappointment we have generated by our sudden decision to cancel the Biennial this late in the process.

    Thursday, September 30, 2021

    Announcing the 2022 MCC Artist Fellowships Grant Cycle

    2022 Artist Fellowships Grant Cycle
    Artist Fellowships

    Mass Cultural Council believes that the work of individual artists is essential to a thriving society. We are excited to announce the Fiscal Year 2022 grant cycle of the Artist Fellowships to support Massachusetts artists.

    The Artist Fellowships are unrestricted awards to in recognition of exceptional creative work by Massachusetts artists. This year, Mass Cultural Council is committing over $1 million to the Artist Fellowships, with the goal of doubling the artists funded through the program.

    The Fellowship grants are $15,000. Finalist awards will increase this year from $1,500 to $5,000.

    In all categories except Traditional Arts, the Artist Fellowships are judged anonymously. Independent review panels make grant decisions based on the artistic quality and creative ability of the original work submitted. (In Traditional Arts, the review is not anonymous, there is additional review criteria, and the submitted work does not need to be original.)

    There are two deadlines per grant cycle. The discipline categories are divided between the two deadlines.

    Applications are now being accepted in:
    Traditional Arts

    Application Deadline: October 25, 2021.

    Beginning December 15, 2021, applications will be accepted in:
    Drawing & Printmaking
    Fiction/Creative Nonfiction

    Application Deadline: January 24, 2022.

    The Artist Fellowships categories recur every other year. Next year (FY23), we will accept applications in:
    Crafts, Dramatic Writing, and Sculpture/Installation/New Genres (Fall deadline)
    Film & Video, Music Composition, and Photography (Winter deadline)
    New this Cycle

    We are very pleased to announce that, due to an increase in Mass Cultural Council’s annual state budget appropriation, we have increased the Finalist award amount from $1,500 to $5,000. The Fellowship award amount will remain at $15,000.

    Please note that this year, we have upgraded to a new grants management system. Learn how to register in our system.

    Read our tips on applying for an Artist Fellowship.

    Register for an info session on October 5, 2021.

    Massachusetts has been awarding Artist Fellowships since 1975. Hear the stories of some of the incredible artists who have received support in the last 45+ years.

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