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.


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 as of 2015 the Biennial Board has incorporated a poetry component to the exhibit. Entry to the Biennial is always free and 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 Local poets can submit up to 3 poems of previously published or unpublished work.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. 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.

To apply to this years Biennial please visit:  

Past Themes:

2019: From Seed to Fruition

2017: Give us your best

2015: Motion Emotion

2013: Be Here Now

2011: Water: Follow the River

2009: Self Portraits

2007: Landscape: Scene and Unseen

Past Jurors:

2019: Donna Gates, Gallery Director and Curator, Salmon Falls Gallery; Jameson Johnson, Founder and Editor in chief, The Boston Art Review; Robert Wiesenburger, the Associate Curator of Contemporary Projects for The Clark Art Institute. Poetry jurors include Nellie Prior, co-organizer of the Departure Reading Series; Karen Skolfield, poet laureate of Northampton; and spoken word poet Catherine Weiss, co-organizer of Northampton Poetry and founder of the community arts space, The Endopolis Poetry Room

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.

2009: Stuart A. Chase has been Executive Director of the Berkshire Museum, which presents programming related to the arts, sciences, and history, since March 2005. Chase has overseen development of many new Berkshire Museum exhibitions and has made numerous art acquisitions, most notably works by Gregory Crewdson and Stephen Hannock. Walter Cudnohufsky is a registered Landscape Architect and artist. Walt's interest in analysis, concept development and design process led him in 1972, to found the nationally recognized graduate program at the Conway School of Landscape Design. He is an avid representational watercolor landscape painter and popular watercolor instructor. Founded by Jo Ellen Harrison in 2001, The Harrison Gallery in Williamstown, MA specializes in contemporary American art, with a focus on landscapes. The works are created by traditional New England painters, realists, impressionists, expressionists, photographers, watercolorists, and mixed media artists. Jo Ellen is a graduate of Williams College, 1979, with a degree in Art History.

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