NORTH ADAMS -- The Minerva Arts Center will say its final good-byes to its home on Massachusetts Avenue, as the nonprofit theater group packs up the last of its equipment and supplies.
But it's not an ending for the group, as much as it is a new beginning, according to Christa Jan Ryan, arts center coordinator and a member of its board of directors.
"We're really spreading our wings," Ryan said Friday. "We're moving into two homes. We've entered into a partnership with Zumba of the Berkshires, which we will share space with at the Gateway building on Union Street. We're also in very early talks to put a satellite location in Pittsfield."
She said talks are ongoing with Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church on First Street in Pittsfield to rent three classrooms.
"[Founder and Artistic Director] Kathy O'Mara has been encouraged to put a satellite location in Pittsfield or to relocate the arts center completely for some time," Ryan said. "We have an unusual amount of tickets purchased by people from Pittsfield and we do a lot of networking at galleries and events in Pittsfield. The opportunity arrived for us to talk with the church, which has 400 seats and an amazing stage. There's also an opportunity to do some productions in a nearby park."
While talks are still ongoing, the group hopes to have something in place by June, she said.
While the group doesn't anticipate its shared space with Zumba of the Berkshires to be ready for its April production of "Cannibal!," there are plans to produce the musical at the Masonic lodges in North Adams and Williamstown.
Leaving the art center's current space on Massachusetts Avenue was a hard decision, but one precipitated by the group not being able to find resolutions to limited on-street parking in the Blackinton neighborhood and incorrect zoning for the building, coupled with the inability to reach a purchase agreement with the building's owner.
"We really love the Minerva Arts Center as it is, but so many new doors have opened for us," Ryan said. "We've been approached by Mayor [Richard] Alcombright about taking on space at the former Notre Dame Church. He's asking the three community theater groups -- Minerva Arts, Main Street Stage and Mill City Productions -- to re-examine the area's community theater needs and consider running under the auspices of a single group. It's something that's way down the road and would require some grant writing to take place."
In the meantime, Minerva Arts is focusing on its expansions and reaching its goals, which included the recent establishment of a board of directors.
"Kathy has always worn 100 hats when it comes to Minerva," she said. "She's entrusted some of her load with a new board of directors, which includes myself and general manager, Nate Samson. We've asked her to take off about 99 of those hats. We also have a financial advisor and bookkeeper, which will allow Kathy to focus on her passions of working with children and directing."
Ryan added, "We think this move will just reinforce how important the arts are in the community and that the only way for all of us to survive is to start working together and with the community."
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