State Grant Empowers Arts and Culture Nonprofits to Ignite Clean Energy and Climate Action
Wednesday, November 22, 2023
Wednesday, November 22, 2023
A groundbreaking collaboration between Western Mass arts and culture nonprofits and UMass Amherst Extension units has been awarded a substantial grant from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) to spearhead a transformative climate action project, entitled Clean Energy in the Cultural Sector. This dynamic partnership aims to address pressing environmental challenges, accelerate clean energy adoption, and water the seeds of a resilient, low-carbon arts and cultural sector in Massachusetts.
The collaboration, which includes Double Edge Theatre (Ashfield), Ohketeau Cultural Center (Plainfield), Paper City Clothing Company (Holyoke), the UMass Clean Energy Extension, and the UMass Arts Extension Service, represents a diverse array of experiences and expertise in the arts and cultural sector, ranging from racial and climate justice advocacy to clean energy and climate action planning. The generous EmPower Massachusetts (EmPower) Innovation and Capacity-Building grant, totaling $50,000, will fuel their joint efforts to develop comprehensive strategies for reducing climate pollution, promoting clean energy adoption, and fostering climate resilience across Western Massachusetts and beyond.
“MassCEC is proud to support organizations in Holyoke and Western Massachusetts helping underserved communities to gain access to clean energy benefits through innovative program models,” said MassCEC CEO Emily Reichert. “By participating in the EmPower program, the UMass Arts Extension Institute sets a great precedent for assisting arts and cultural organizations who primarily serve Environmental Justice populations, enabling diverse groups of Massachusetts citizens to take action against climate change and benefit from the energy transition in the process.”
"We want to bring our organization forward efficiently and sustainably, with as small a footprint as possible," said Rhonda Anderson, Co-Director at Ohketeau. “A stronger connection to other folks doing this work, and expertise to support it, is exciting,” said Adam Bright, Producing Executive Director at Double Edge Theatre. “We love our Earth, and having a hub to make these kinds of things happen [in Holyoke],” said Carlos Peña, Founder and Owner at Paper City Clothing Company.
The project will encompass several key components:
Framework Development: The project aims to develop and refine a framework tailored to the needs of small and medium sized arts and cultural organizations. Many smaller organizations are already embedded in frontline communities and are committed to climate justice, but need additional resources and support to make clean energy adoption and sustained climate action feasible.
Clean Energy Strategy Development: A major focus of the project involves identifying opportunities for the implementation of clean energy projects, such as energy efficiency retrofits, solar, and wind. The goal is to create tailored roadmaps for each partner nonprofit, including strategies for funding and financing, while articulating the needs and potential of the sector as a whole to engage in this work collectively.
Outreach and Engagement: Project partners will convene a public presentation and discussion to share their experiences and lessons learned, reflect on the potential for coalition-building to accelerate a Just Transition, and serve as peer resources for other arts and cultural organizations seeking to get involved in clean energy and climate action.
The grant not only provides financial support but also underscores the state's recognition of the importance of collaborative, interdisciplinary efforts in addressing climate change. The partners are enthusiastic about the opportunity to drive positive change and serve as a model for effective environmental and climate justice initiatives through the power of arts and culture.
For media inquiries, please contact:
Director, Arts Extension Service
About Double Edge Theatre
Double Edge Theatre is a cultural cooperative and ensemble collective committed to performance, visual, and multimedia work that embodies concepts of Living Culture and Art Justice. Located on a former dairy farm in rural Western Massachusetts, with international collaborators and audiences, Double Edge is cultivating dialogues with the land and with its communities through the power of creative imagination.
About Ohketeau Cultural Center
Ohketeau Cultural Center is a Massachusetts-based nonprofit organization committed to uplifting the voices of Native peoples and dismantling unjust frameworks, replacing them with accessibility, equity, dignity, and wellness for our Native communities. Ohketeau means ‘a place to plant and grow’ in the Nipmuc language, and it is the only Native founded and run cultural center in all of Central and Western Massachusetts.
About Paper City Clothing Company
Paper City Clothing Company is a Holyoke-based social enterprise committed to expanding creative and entrepreneurial opportunities for youth in Holyoke. By emphasizing visibility and economic opportunities for local emerging artists, prioritizing those who have historically been underrepresented in the art world, Paper City is making art experiences more accessible, welcoming, and sustainable for the Holyoke community.
About Arts Extension Service
The Arts Extension Service (AES), located at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, has been building art and community since 1973 by bridging artists, arts managers, and other professionals with best practices, the latest research, publications, and training programs. As part of the Clean Energy in the Cultural Sector Project, AES contributes expertise in arts and cultural engagement, sustainability, and climate action planning.
About Clean Energy Extension
The UMass Clean Energy Extension provides a resource to reduce market barriers and accelerate the adoption of clean energy for Massachusetts cities and towns, businesses, institutions, farms, low income and multiunit housing, and others. As part of the Clean Energy in the Cultural Sector Project, Clean Energy Extension brings expertise in clean energy assessment, evaluation, and implementation planning.
The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) is a state economic development agency dedicated to accelerating the growth of the clean energy sector across the Commonwealth to spur job creation, deliver statewide environmental benefits and to secure long-term economic growth for the people of Massachusetts.
About EmPower Massachusetts
EmPower Massachusetts is an initiative to support the exploration, development, and implementation of program models or projects that provide access to the benefits of clean energy for previously underserved populations in Massachusetts.