Lenox Cultural District
October 9, 2019
Over the years, ArtWeek has been fortunate to have so many individual and organizations champion arts, culture, and creativity in their communities across the state. To help shine a spotlight on their collective efforts, ArtWeek will be featuring them in this “Creative Catalysts” series.
ArtWeek spoke with Cassandra Sohn, owner of Sohn Fine Art and member of the recently designated Lenox Cultural District. Art Lenox and the community have been active members of ArtWeek since the statewide expansion in 2017, and we are excited to share the celebration of their recent designation as a cultural district.
Read below to learn more about their journey, and what they bring to our Creative Commonwealth.
Congratulations on recently becoming a cultural district. What prompted the decision to apply to the MCC to be designated as a cultural district?[Cassandra Sohn] Thank you! We’re very excited! As the Executive Director of MCC (Anita Walker) pointed out during a designation meeting, Lenox has long been recognized as a community with world-class culture and arts, and is a perfect fit for the program. The designation is an opportunity to spotlight the strong contributions we make to culture in the commonwealth and to further enrich the cultural experiences offered in the town.
How long did the process take before your appointment? Who were the primary advocates for it?
The process for community participation and completing the various elements of the application took about one year. The Town of Lenox and members of the local Cultural Council were the most active participants in the application process, along with leadership at the Lenox Chamber of Commerce. We also had strong support from cultural leaders at venues surrounding our district who recognized that although they wouldn’t be within the formal borders of our walkable district, an initiative like this is beneficial to the larger community.
Do you have any immediate goals or plans with this new designation intact?
Having just received the designation, the steering committee and the community are exploring our many possibilities and next steps. Our initial plans are to get branding and promotion in place including establishing a social media presence. Then we will look at programming for the coming year including ArtWeek 2020, which we are so excited to participate in! Our long term goals include collaborating with our cultural partners, the town, the chamber and Art Lenox to further create rich cultural experiences that improve our quality of life, foster growth and encourage economic development.
What do you think makes Lenox stand out in the culture-rich Berkshires?
The Berkshires are incredibly rich in world-class cultural experiences and each town is a thread in that diverse tapestry. The charming town of Lenox is home to renowned performing arts venues such as Tanglewood and Shakespeare & Company, and historic sites such as The Mount, Frelinhuysen Morris House & Studio and Ventford Hall. The town also has the highest concentration of art galleries in the Berkshires with innovative and engaging events like artist talks, workshops and open studio tours coordinated through the gallery association, Art Lenox. There are also a plethora of wellness and lodging facilities like the yoga institute Kripalu, Canyon Ranch and Wheatleigh. Plus the independently owned farm-to-table restaurants and unique boutiques that are all within a walkable downtown area. All of this is and the village is also surrounded by nature with a multitude of options for outdoor activities. Lenox is a distinct destination with diverse opportunities for residents and visitors.
Lenox has increased its ArtWeek participation each year; any plans for ArtWeek 2020 yet?
We are thrilled to be participating in ArtWeek again this year! Art Lenox will collaborate with the Cultural District to increase programming and marketing for the events. We may also be working with additional towns in the Berkshires to expand some of our events such as a larger county-wide open studio tour over a longer period of time. Stay tuned-in with Art Lenox on Facebook and Instagram as we reveal new events for 2020!
Any other thoughts you’d like to share?
On behalf of Art Lenox I can say that we have a distinct vision for expanding our programming. With this designation and the support from MCC as well as the town we are excited to have better tools to help turn those visions into reality. Lenox is the 5th town in the Berkshires to receive this designation. I see the spirit of collaboration increasing between districts and overall across the state to strengthen the arts in our communities. This is possible because of the efforts of organizations like MCC fiercely supporting the arts and festivals like ArtWeek expanding programming statewide. As MCC states, “Through partnerships between developers, cultural leaders, and municipalities, we’re leading a movement to bring people of all backgrounds in the arts, humanities, and sciences together for a common cause: to elevate the importance of culture to create a better Commonwealth.”