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Grants ‘a Big Win’ for Fitchburg Art Museum

October 4, 2018

Fitchburg Art Museum Director Nick Capasso, right, joins Mayor Stephen DiNatale and museum Development Director Rebecca Wright after Wednesday s grant announcement.

FITCHBURG -- The Fitchburg Art Museum announced Wednesday it received two grants totaling $300,000 from the Barr-Klarman Massachusetts Arts Initiative.

“Is this a big win for the Fitchburg Art Museum? You bet, this is huge,” said museum Director Nick Capasso.

Capasso was joined by Mayor Stephen DiNatale at the museum. Capasso said the foundation placed no limitations on how the museum can use the grant award, which will be rolled out over a period of three years.

In addition to the grants, the museum will receive training and technical assistance from TDC, a Boston-based consulting and research firm that advises nonprofits.

“With their advice, we’re going to figure out how best to spend the money to successfully move the museum into the future, and continue to serve the community,” said Capasso.

The Barr-Klarman Massachusetts Arts Initiative is the result of a partnership between two philanthropic organizations, the Barr Foundation and the Klarman Family Foundation.

Barr-Klarman on Wednesday announced news of a major investment in the arts -- it pledged $25 million to 29 arts and cultural institutions across the state.

That includes the Fitchburg Art Museum, the only organization in the North Central Massachusetts to receive funding from the Barr-Klarman initiative.

The initiative aims to ensure cultural organizations stay relevant and thrive in a rapidly changing society, according to a statement from E. San San Wong, director of Arts & Creativity for the Barr Foundation.

Capasso said the foundation invited 80 organizations to apply for funding, and chose only a select number of them.

“The whole point of this program was to invest in institutions they felt were important to help sustain for the long term,” he said.

That the foundation chose to invest in FAM demonstrates its faith in ability of city government, nonprofits like ReImagine North of Main and Fitchburg State University to work together to boost the arts and improve the downtown area.

“We’ve got what most cities don’t have, an art museum and a university,” he said. The foundation “want(s) a return on their investment, and they see this as the city that will give them that return.”

DiNatale noted several major projects underway on and around Main Street, including the hybrid residential-work space for artists that will take shape at the former BF Brown school, the Fitchburg Arts Community.

Exactly how the grant award will the spent has not been determined, said Capasso, but it will certainly help fund a selection of initiatives included in the “very ambitious” Fitchburg Art Museum Strategic Plan.

Included in that plan is the Fitchburg Arts Community and an arts-focused, after-school program for children.

“If we have a shortfall somewhere, this gives us an injection of capital that we can deploy strategically to help us move forward,” he said.

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