Amherst cultural district lands state grant

  • Amherst Town Hall

Staff Writer
Published: 12/4/2018 12:28:30 AM

AMHERST — A series of events to coincide with the state’s ArtWeek next spring will be funded through a $5,000 grant recently received by the Amherst Center Cultural District.

“We’re really excited about that,” said Sarah la Cour, executive director of the Amherst Business Improvement District, which manages the cultural district.

The grant comes from the Massachusetst Cultural Commission, which designated the district in May 2016.

La Cour said Friday that the plan is to use the money mostly for what she calls a “coalescing event” that will feature arts-related programming from April 26 to May 5, 2019.

Planning is beginning for ArtWeek, with a brainstorming session scheduled for Dec. 11 to determine an overall theme, and then a public meeting in January to discuss what can happen during those 10 days.

In addition to staging events, the money will go toward a promotional brochure that will list the events and venues within the district where ArtWeek happens.

A small portion of the grant will go to data collection and gathering the metrics to show how the cultural district is functioning, la Cour said.

The idea of cultural districts is for them to be walkable places with numerous cultural assets. In Amherst center, these include the Jones Library, Amherst History Museum and Amherst Cinema, as well the Emily Dickinson Museum and the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College.

All the signs for the district have gone up, with one on a pole near the Hope the Cow sculpture at Hallock and North Pleasant, another on the Collective Copies building on South Pleasant Street, a third free standing on Main Street in front of the Henry Hills Home and the final attached to the Amherst Cinema Building on Amity Street and near what may be the town’s most famous graffiti, “Save the Drake” and “For Willy, for humanity,” messages that refer to the former Drake hotel and its Rathskeller bar, where Willie Whitfield worked as a bartender.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at

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