Bellforge Arts Center launches summer programming with long-term creative vision
Sometimes places with a deep sense of history are the best sites for a creative long-term vision of the future. It is the purpose of the Bellforge Arts Centerat the heart of a sprawling 87-acre campus on the site of the former Medfield State Hospital, where ambitious plans have been put in place to establish a multi-arts indoor and outdoor recreation facility located in the MetroWest area about 18 miles southwest of Boston.
And the meaning of “then and now” was on full display last weekend, as Bellforge hosted a media and VIP launch party that not only launched his extensive summer series on the performing artsbut also showcased the wide open fields, historic cottage-style buildings that defined the former psychiatric hospital complex until its closure in 2003, and its central chapel, with its plans for transformation into a performance and entertainment venue. 300-seat special events (scenes from the 2010 film shutter island where it was filmed). Medfield State Hospital was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1994, and the site’s former infirmary, located near the chapel, will be converted into an arts education center, and a covered walkway will connect the spaces for a 24,000 square foot arts center. center.
The event, organized by Bellforge with Vanyaland publisher Redefined, featured live music from Will Dailey (pictured) and Dutch Tulips, and a panel on the importance of the arts featuring artist manager Ralph Jaccodine; Scott’s excellent booking agent, Carl Lavin; Cliff Note, founder and CEO of HipStory; and Jean Mineo, general manager of the Bellforge Arts Center.
“The arts have always been something you connect with emotionally,” Lavin said during the panel discussion, noting that people are in “an instant community” when they’re together in a live setting. “Having a venue that fosters that and organizes that is admirable.”
The same goes for Bellforge’s long-term plans, which will be dictated by a vote on June 21 at the Medfield Town Assembly. Mineo stressed the importance of city residents voting to allow Bellforge to continue with Trinity Financial, their preferred development partner, and allow the New York and Boston-based company to purchase a portion of the property to achieve its vision, with plans to be completed by 2026. Mineo says Trinity understands the value of arts conservation within the property and has experience working with historic sites to continue to receive grants and to properly maintain buildings before, during and after rehabilitation. Not all buildings will be preserved, notes Mineo, but saving the main buildings of the facility will help protect its historic value and transform the area into an arts haven.
In addition to performance space, Bellforge’s long-term vision, divided into phases, also includes music and visual arts classes, rehearsal space and artist studios, after-school programs and camps. summer, as well as a community wellness focus that offers craft fairs, farmers markets, yoga sessions, and more. The organizers predict that it could accommodate nearly 80,000 participants, visitors and visitors per year.
“Bellforge’s master plan vision is exciting and would add a desperately needed resource to local and touring artists,” said Gary Dunning, Bellforge Arts Center Board Member and Chairman and Executive Director of Boston’s Celebrity Series. . “It would also give more Massachusetts residents the opportunity to attend live performances, which always adds value to the economic and creative life of our community.”
Those on the panel echo similar sentiments. Note felt that “art is the by-product of creativity” and marveled at how the Bellforge space was a “blank canvas”.
Note will have a say in filling this canvas this summer. This Saturday (June 18), his HipStory House Party Holds Court on the lawn for a free event featuring Luke Bar$, Forté, Tricia Reed, ToriTori and DJ Mojo. The following weekend (June 25), Redefined starts his Summer Sounds Festival seriesa monthly showcase with events in July and August, with inaugural lineup featuring Note, as well as Blue Light Bandits, Zola Simone, Gatch, Kaylee Federmann, Paper Tigers and Salem Wolves.
Other events a Great Scott pop-up July 9; a Vanyaland comedy and music night in August (details to come) and a trio of BAMS Festival pop-ups through September. Get the full lineup and artist info here. As the summer season fades, the fall slate hosts a series of Oktoberfest events and a family event CultureFestin partnership with Medfield Together and designed to “bring our community together to celebrate and experience the customs, traditions, artwork, music and food of diverse people in and around our city”.
According Patch, the events over the next few months – 25 in total, all free and open to the general public – are made possible thanks to a $10,000 Arts & Culture grant Bellforge received from the Foundation for MetroWest, along with a $45 prize. $000 awarded by the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism (MOTT). “With Bellforge, we emphasize a place of creation, whether it’s art or friendships,” Mineo told the publication.
For both of these things, Bellforge Arts Center has a plan. It started last weekend and stretches well into the future.