Mass. Cultural Council Director Kicks Off Arts& Culture Event


L to R: Rae Lynne Mercer, Jamie Hellen, Jeff Roy, Michael Bobbitt, Kaye Kelly, Ted Cormier-Leger, Cobi Frongillo, Roberta Trahan, and Pandora Carlucci.

Arriving Saturday morning to the sounds of the Franklin High School Jazz Ensemble, and then serenaded by a classical ensemble, attendees at Saturday’s Metrowest Arts & Culture Symposium, organized under the guidance of Kaye Kelly and the Cultural Council, got the message loud and clear: arts and culture matter in Franklin.

In her opening remarks, Kelly said, “we know that bringing people together to experience arts and culture is an essential ingredient to thriving and inclusive communities. Today we meet in person after two years of separation, unexpected upheaval and incredible challenges.”

She noted that the pandemic had taken an economic toll on many cultural institutions but that those in Metrowest had fared better, specifically referencing new activities in Framingham, Medfield, and Milford. And, she highlighted the success of the Franklin Cultural Festival in the fall and hopes for the upcoming Art Walk. Above all, she stressed the economic importance of arts and culture, citing the hundreds of visitors to Franklin who come for events at the Black Box and elsewhere.

Town Administrator Jamie Hellen reiterated the many cultural initiatives underway in Franklin and noted that the town’s cultural district is one of only four in MetroWest –and also pointed out that the town has two adjacent Historic Districts as well.

Long-time cultural activists, Pandora Carlucci and Roberta Trahan also made brief remarks.

Then it was the turn of keynote speaker Michael Bobbitt, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Cultural Council, who recognized the Town Councilors in attendance, Ted Cormier-Leger and Cobi Frongillo, as well as State Rep. Jeff. Roy.

In his remarks, Bobbitt proposed that art and culture will be the leading force for change and also cited economic data suggesting that the “creative” economy is one of the most important contributors to the economy and is likely to be the largest sector of the economy in the future, suggesting that we are heading toward a kind of utopia.

“Think of the collective power in your community power --that you all have the power to reflect and project the world through art,” he said.

“The statues in our parks should be artists, the names of streets and rivers and towns should be artists,” he said. And, he asserted that “we cannot make the same mistakes in the future; art is a social justice tool--artists give voice to the voiceless.”

Quoting author Daniel Pink, he said the 21st
century is the triumph of right-brain skills – opening a new golden age of creativity. ”The world's problems can be solved with creativity, and artists are the experts,” he said.

After the conclusion of his remarks, he took question, some of which dealt with the mechanics of the arts grants his agency doles out and others were of a more general nature.

After a break, the event broke into clinics:

  • Building Community through the Arts – led by Kelly Grill Executive director and Founder of the Hopkinton Center for the Arts
  • Sharing your Arts Identity on Social Media – Led by Steve Sherlock if Franklin Matters
  • Festivals and Community Celebrations – Timothea Pham, program officer from Mass Cultural Council
  • “Equity” and Access in Arts & Culture
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