The Bedford Cultural Council hosted a celebration to honor the 68 FY22 and FY23 grant recipients at the American Legion on Sunday. The event was teeming with curiosity, enthusiasm, and plenty of “show and tell.”
As each grant recipient arrived, they were warmly greeted and directed to tables where they set up displays showcasing how they used their award money. When their stations were ready, many of them made the rounds, curious to see what other recipients had accomplished.
Welcoming speakers included Barbara Purchia, Chair of the Bedford Cultural Council, as well as State Rep. Ken Gordon and Emily Mitchell from the Bedford Select Board. Each one spoke about the importance of granting money to help make Bedford a more diverse and enriching cultural place to live.
In FY22, the Bedford Cultural Council gave grants to 32 applicants; 36 applicants received grants in FY23.
Several recipients spoke about their experience while introducing their projects. Here are a few of the highlights:
Laura Wallace, President of the Bedford Arts and Crafts Society, along with BACS member, Sylvia Mallory, presented a slide show featuring three art demonstrations that were made possible by grant money. One of the slides featured a watercolor painting process by Susan McFarlane.
Two other slides starred Emily Passman illustrating how to create a dynamic painting from an ordinary photo and Gretjen Helene showing how to make traditional Ukrainian Pysanky Easter eggs.
Additional slides introduced grant-funded workshops on topics such as floral arrangements, needle felting, and Smartphone photography.
BACS also received funding for the Bedford Arts and Crafts Service Project that supplied the materials to make knitted hats and scarves as well as cards and other items that were donated to the Bedford COA, the Bedford Food Pantry, and the Bedford VA Hospital.
Bedford’s free online news outlet/portal, The Bedford Citizen, was represented by arts and cultural reporter Doris Smith. This position is supported by a grant from the Bedford Cultural Council. Smith displayed a poster featuring articles published during the past six months depicting some of the arts and cultural events held in Bedford:
- “Looking for a Visual Arts Class that Meets in Bedford?”
- “Award Winning Poet Martha Collins Shares her Poetry at Middlesex College”
- “Tim and Maggie Bring Music of Appalachia to Bedford”
Smith also wrote stories about the Bedford Cultural District, as well as articles that showcased Bedford’s artists and the businesses that support the arts.
During Sunday’s reception, Lalitha Ranganath, a representative from the South Asian Association of Bedford (formerly known as Bedford Desi Club) said there are currently more than 100 South Asian families residing in Bedford. She noted that Bedford has been very accepting of their culture, and the group enjoys sharing their holiday traditions with the town. Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Lights, will be celebrated in November.
To learn more about the Holi Festival, the colorful celebration that welcomes spring, see The Bedford Citizen’s article about this year’s celebration.
According to a survey mentioned in a recent Superintendent’s Report published in The Bedford Citizen, there are nearly 50 languages (other than English) that are spoken in Bedford homes and schools. Thanks to one of the generous Bedford Cultural grants, the 50-year tradition of the annual World Language Celebration Week was held this spring. Students enjoyed this worldly celebration by sharing foods, playing games, listening to music, creating crafts, weaving flags, and other activities to recognize the numerous languages and cultures that enrich the community and its residents. Their table displayed some of the items from this project.
Local singer and environmentalist Neil Dale set up his laptop so attendees could view “Who is the Earth?” a presentation in story and song, which was performed at the free Earth Day Celebration this spring, now available on YouTube. Dale also exhibited a recent copy of “350 Lowell Coloring Book” for students.
Friends of the Job Lane House received two grants: one for a Job Lane Farm Museum Family Field Day and one for the Job Lane Farm Museum Student Docent Project (which trains students to become tour guides). Dhara Kaushik, a Bedford High School student who just finished her freshman year, took the training to be a docent at the Job Lane Farm Museum. Kaushik said that she enjoys being a guide; her favorite part of the colonial-era house tour is the kitchen and the outside area around it.
Members of the Bedford-Hanscom Girl Scout Troop 72147 described their Old Sturbridge Village Field Trip. Sturbridge is a recreated 1830s rural New England town where the scouts learned about the way the villagers lived during that time period.
Carol Epple, a musician who entertained the audience by playing a short flute piece before the presentations began, was also a recipient of cultural grants. Epple and her late husband, George, received the money on behalf of Kammerwerke. The Kammerwerke Double Wind Quintet recently presented a concert at the Bedford Council on Aging.
Epple said, “This was the first time I have attended the BCC reception for grant recipients. I was very impressed with the creative and imaginative presentations, the variety of grant projects, some on display in the room. The energy and appreciation among the Council members and recipients was clearly evident. This is a thriving organization.”
The showcase that garnered the most hands-on attention was the one from the Lt. Job Lane Lobby Math and Science Corner. In addition to seeing the sensory stations that had been purchased for students to learn about electricity, Sunday’s attendees could try to create their own circuits and switches.
Attendees were also invited to participate in a second sensory experience: to insert their hand into a paper bag, feel around, and try to identify the objects.
If you read The Bedford Citizen article about two guinea pigs at Lane School named Bonnie and Pearl, you will know how popular they have become. Thanks to the Cultural Council, there are two more guinea pigs at the Lane School.
Mural artist Sarah Scoville, who is also an art instructor in addition to being on the Bedford School Board, thanked the Cultural Council for their support of the Bedford Utility Box Mural Project, an effort to “brighten up Bedford in unexpected places,” that is now in its second year.
She has also reached out to other artists (of all ages) in town to join her on this project that brings bright and colorful designs to many objects around town. See how the utility box project has spread to Davis School in this Bedford Citizen article.
Artist Greg Vahan, showed a portion of his film “Mythology and Beyond” that his grant helped fund. He talked about how his inspiration came from his Armenian background and its myths, and his creative process that led to the making of this film.
Local photographer Jan van Steenwijk talked about how he put together his book “Ephemeral Moments.” He said that after more than 60 years behind the viewer, he stepped out and created a book using a collection of his photos that featured individual people who he found interesting. Some of those portraits are of Bedford residents.
The members of the Bedford Cultural Council provided an inviting collation of light foods for
Bedford Cultural Council chair Barbara Purchia said, “The reception was a wonderful treat! Our FY22 and FY23 grant recipients showcased their projects and delighted, inspired, and informed us. Seeing and hearing what the recipients have accomplished is so energizing.”
Current members of the Bedford Cultural Council include: Breena Daniell, Roberta Ennis, Dianne Grattan, Rebecca Hazelton, Julie McCay Turner, Angel Pettitt, Barbara Purchia, Michelle Puntillo, Erin Sandler-Rathe, Susan Schwartz, and Christine Wojnar with Emily Mitchell as Select Board liaison.
A full list of recipients for each year is available at: https://massculturalcouncil.org/local-council/Bedford/
The Bedford Cultural Council seeks applications every fall. Information and forms are available on the Mass Cultural Council website at https://massculturalcouncil.org.