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Mar. 2nd New England Public Radio Recognizes CATA!

New England Public Radio’s Arts & Humanities Award for Outstanding Organization recognizes those who have made a positive impact on the arts and humanities and brings awareness to the critical role played by musicians, artists, dancers, writers, teachers and cultural institutions in western New England. CATA is the first Berkshire organization to receive this award. Please join us at the award ceremony in Holyoke on May 10th, 2016.


NEPR is excited to announce the recipients of the 2016 NEPR Arts & Humanities Awards! This year, the distinction goes to two very worth individuals, Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Tracy Kidder, and the first Poet Laureate of Springfield Massachusetts, Maria Luisa Arroyo; and two outstanding organizations: Amherst Cinema, celebrating its 10th year as part of the Valley’s cultural landscape, and Community Access to the Arts of Great Barrington, Massachusetts, which celebrates the creativity of people with disabilities through shared experiences in the visual and performing arts.

Recipients will be celebrated at the 8th Annual Arts & Humanities Awards Gala, May 10, 2016 at the Log Cabin in Holyoke, Mass. Nick Spitzer, host of American Routes will join the celebration, taking questions live on stage from our own Kari Njjiri, host of Jazz Safari. Music and entertainment reflective of this year’s recipients will round out the festive evening. Tickets ($75) will be available beginning soon at Proceeds support the programs and services of New England Public Radio.

The 2016 Recipients:

Amherst Cinema AudienceAmherst Cinema
Now celebrating its 10th year, Amherst Cinema is an independent, nonprofit arts center that presents first-run independent film and world cinema on four screens and offers HD productions from internationally known theater and dance companies. In addition, Amherst Cinema creates film series unique to the theater, hosts filmmakers at screenings of their works, and serves school children through its education program, See-Hear-Feel-Film. In 2015, Amherst Cinema screened programs in more than 20 languages and drew over 112,000 audience members from throughout western New England. And as one nominator pointed out, “the new vitality of the Amherst downtown is further testament to the magnet that Amherst Cinema has become for western New England’s arts community, and the power of the “creative economy.” For more information on Amherst Cinema, click here.
MLArroyo at July 2015 MFA graduation María Luisa Arroyo
Multilingual Puerto Rican poet and educator María Luisa Arroyo is the inaugural Poet Laureate of Springfield, Massachusetts. Many of Ms. Arroyo’s poems, published widely in journals such as CALYX, and in anthologies such as Women Write Resistance: Poets Resist Gender Violence, negotiate the oftentimes hidden, ignored, or rationalized realities of childhood abuse and domestic violence. A 2004 Massachusetts Cultural Council Poetry Fellow, Ms. Arroyo had her first collection of poems, Gathering Words/Recogiendo Palabras, published by Bilingual Press (2008). Since 2004, Ms. Arroyo has facilitated community-based poetry workshops and readings regularly in partnership with the Springfield Public Libraries and has performed her work regionally and widely, including in Chicago, DC, Boston, and Puerto Rico. A proud product of Springfield Public Schools in an era when a well-rounded education automatically included the arts, Ms. Arroyo  went on to earn degrees at Colby (BA), Tufts (MA), and Harvard (ABD) in German language and literature; and in July 2015, she earned an MFA in creative writing at Pine Manor College. For more information on María Luisa Arroyo, click here.
JoanneCommunity Access to the Arts (CATA)
Now in its 23rd year, Community Access to the Arts (CATA) provides over 1,000 arts workshops annually to 600 individuals with disabilities across Berkshire County, Massachusetts.  With a mission to nurture and celebrate the creativity of people with disabilities through shared experiences in the visual and performing arts, CATA draws the public into its vibrant work through performances and exhibits, shining a light on the ability within disability. CATA’s arts workshops and public events give individuals with disabilities the chance to share their voices and their perspectives on the world.

Through CATA, art becomes a vehicle for social change – a powerful means of creating community and affirming our common humanity. As one nominator put it, “CATA’s message, one of inclusivity, one that recognizes the talents and abilities of ‘the disabled’ and promotes and celebrates the artist and performer, resonates and reverberates in our western Massachusetts communities.”  For more information on CATA, click here.
TRACY KIDDER author pic (c) Gabriel CooneyTracy Kidder
From his home in western Massachusetts, Tracy Kidder writes books that invite their readers to take a journey with him. Whether that journey is traveling to Haiti with Dr. Paul Farmer, a single-minded physician bent on improving the health of some of the poorest people on the planet in Mountains Beyond Mountains, or to Burundi where the incredible story of a young man named Deo begins in The Strength of What Remains, Kidder’s passionate and profound writings have inspired thousands of readers to think about the global issues that affect us all. Closer to home, his portrait of small-town life in Northampton, Massachusetts in Home Town, and the engaging peek into building a family home, from blueprint to the last coat of paint, invite readers to get close, to see the small, seemingly mundane, details of modern life in a new way. Winner of both The Pulitzer Prize and The National Book Award, Kidder’s most recent book, Good Prose: The Art of Non-Fiction, was co-authored by his friend and editor of more than forty years, Richard Todd, and is an inspiring manifesto on what makes good writing. He is currently at work on a new book that will be released by Random House this fall. For more information on Tracy Kidder, click here.

Established by the New England Public Radio Foundation, Inc. in 2008, the New England Public Radio Arts and Humanities Award has been recognizing the rich and varied arts scene in the region for six years and counting. The award recognizes the contributions of local talent, and brings greater public awareness to the critical role played by musicians, artists, dancers, actors, writers and teachers in western New England.

For more information on the Arts & Humanities Award, please contact Vanessa Cerillo at or call 413-735-6605.Information about sponsoring our Arts & Humanities Awards Celebration

Past recipients of the Arts & Humanities Award:


Community Music School of Springfield

Andrew Lawrence

Karen Skolfield



Jane Yolen

The Performance Project/First Generation

Easthampton City Arts+



Michael Mucci

June Millington

Pioneer Valley Symphony Orchestra and Chorus

Enchanted Circle



The Young@Heart Chorus

Josh Simpson

Gary Bernice



Peter Blanchette

Steve Hays

The Charter Oak Cultural Center, Hartford, CT

Aric Bieganek



Evelyn Harris

The Springfield Museums

Matthew Mitchell



Kevin Rhodes, Music Director, The Springfield Symphony Orchestra