Davol leaves RiverCulture for Chamber job
Lisa Davol, seen here in Montague, is taking her river culture experience across the river to Greenfield, seen here in the background.
TURNERS FALLS — Having promoted arts, culture and the related economy in downtown Turners Falls for 7 years, Lisa Davol is headed off for similar work in a broader area.
Davol has helmed the Turners Falls RiverCulture project — responsible for everything from the annual Turners Fall Block Party to the fish-themed crosswalk on Avenue A and innumerable projects in-between — as director and essentially sole employee since its 2006 inception.
Today, Davol begins a job with the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce, taking over for events manager Becky George.
While she begins the new job this week, Davol said she is not immediately leaving her current position and will stay on to apply for funding for the coming year and shepherd through her latest, and crowning, project.
RiverCulture has won seven consecutive grants from the Adams Arts Program of the Massachusetts Cultural Council, establishing the project and providing about half its funding since, with the remainder split between the town and raised from business sponsors, individual donations and grants.
Davol said she will stay on for her usual 25 hours per week with RiverCulture through June 30, and then on an even more part-time basis as needed, and may even serve on the RiverCulture steering committee.
“I’m certainly not wiping my hands of RiverCulture, I will always be here to support it,” Davol said.
Going into her eighth year with the program, Davol said she has learned a lot about the arts as a tool for economic development and, through her involvement with the tightly interwoven local arts community, learned what people need in the county.
“It just seems like a natural move for me to be able to share what I’ve learned,” Davol said.
She also sees it as a natural time to leave RiverCulture to someone else.
“We’ve got the energy, we have the excitement, we have changed the perception of the downtown, all of those things were necessary,” she said. “Now we’re at a point where lots of things are happening, people are coming here, they’re doing their own thing, now we need to be the platform.”
Davol’s latest project is the nascent “Third Thursday” series, which she hopes will serve as a monthly outlet for artists who might otherwise only be seen during the town’s crop of large annual events, including the Franklin County Pumpkinfest, Montague Soapbox Race and Mutton and Mead Medieval Festival, all of which sprang up in recent years following the Block Party.
The first event in the summer evening festival of art, music and shopping in the downtown’s shops, restaurants and bars is scheduled for June 20 on the theme “knights, camera, action.” The theme is a reference to the Mutton and Mead festival that weekend and the inclusion of Hallmark School of Photography students.
In an example of what Davol hopes for from the project, three businesses have so far signed on to host the gallery shows, receptions and similar graduation events held at the school’s downtown gallery until its closure last year.
Chamber of Commerce President Ann Hamilton said she has worked with Davol through RiverCulture and is happy to have her.
“We interviewed 5 or 6 people and I think Lisa has the background in doing a lot of what we do, in terms of planning events and seeing that they come off well, so she seems happy about it and we’re happy about it,” Hamilton said.
Montague Town Planner Walter Ramsey, on the RiverCulture executive committee, said they will most likely be looking for a replacement for Davol’s position, assuming the project wins Massachusetts Cultural Council funding.
Selectman Patricia Allen, on the Board of Selectmen since before the RiverCulture project began, said she is disappointed to be losing Davol and excited for the Chamber of Commerce, praising her leadership of the program.
“She came in and she just owned that program; she really took a hold of it and she has really been able to push boundaries and get people to commit to help,” Allen said.
Allen said she feels Davol leaves the town and the project in a good position to attract a new director.
“She’s done a huge amount for the town, to help the town feel good about itself and have fun,” Allen said.
You can reach Chris Curtis at:
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