Artspace Executive Director leaving after nearly two decades

  • Cecilia Berger at ArtSpace in Greenfield. May 16, 2018. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Cecelia Berger is moving on from ArtSpace in Greenfield. June 22, 2018 Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Cecilia Berger at ArtSpace in Greenfield. May 16, 2018. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

Recorder Staff
Published: 6/26/2018 6:02:26 PM

GREENFIELD — After nearly two decades with the Artspace Community Arts Center, Executive Director Cecilia Berger has stepped down.

Berger was with the area nonprofit organization for 18 years, including the last three years as executive director. While with the organization, Berger was director for the popular Strings for Kids program, which introduced area children to classical music.

Berger said her exit is bittersweet, though she is confident Artspace will continue to flourish in her absence.

“I am excited about Artspace moving in an even a better direction,” she said. “It really is a jewel for Franklin County and for Greenfield.”

Berger said she is leaving to be with her husband, Joseph Berger, who has been in Boston since he was named the dean of the college of education and human development at the University of Massachusetts-Boston in September.

Berger started with Artspace in 2000, having come from New Orleans the year before with her husband, who took a job at UMass-Boston as an associate professor.

Berger said she has a bachelor’s in music and violin performance from Lawrence University in Wisconsin and a master’s in violin performance from Bowling Green University in Ohio.

She recalls being approached by Mary Kay Hoffman, then-director at Artspace, and being asked to teach at the center.

At first, Berger declined.

“I had three kids,” she said. “I said ‘not yet.””

But Berger said Hoffman was unrelenting.

“She called the next day and said, ‘I’m not taking no for an answer,’” Berger said.

And with that, Berger started as a violin and viola teacher with Artspace in the spring of 2000.

During Berger’s tenure as a teacher, the Strings for Kids program was developed in 2008 in conjunction with Greenfield schools, then-superintendent Susan Hollins and Hoffman. The free program provides children with opportunities to learn to play violin or cello.

Berger said she was one of the first teachers for that program, which has provided the Pioneer Valley Symphony’s Youth Orchestra with over 60 percent of its members.

Berger is now manager of the youth orchestra and is production manager and second violinist for the Pioneer Valley Symphony Orchestra. She will continue to work with the Pioneer Valley Symphony, she said.

Artspace future

Regarding the future of the center and its finances, Berger gave a vote of confidence for the 44-year-old organization.

“We are in a better financial position than we were last year,” she said. “And we’ve got some good ideas ... for sustainability.”

One such plan is hiring a grant writer, which the search is under way for, she said.

“Her main focus will be writing grants and looking at other ways of raising money,” Berger said. “That is something we have not done in the past, as far as having one person very focused just on that aspect.”

Berger said she established an exit strategy before she left, including training someone to maintain day-to-day functions and “to essentially be an office manager” until Artspace’s board of directors finds a replacement.

You can reach
Dan Desrochers at:

ddesrochers@recorder.com

413-772-0261, ext. 257




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