May 1, 2020
Contact: Chris Watford
(413) 528-5485
Digital images attached

COMMUNITY ACCESS TO THE ARTS PRESENTS ITS VIRTUAL PERFORMANCE & GALA ON MAY 9—CATA launches a week-long celebration leading up to an online gala showcasing the talents of people with disabilities.

GREAT BARRINGTON, MA—Community Access to the Arts (CATA) presents its Virtual Gala and Performance on Saturday, May 9, from 5-6pm. The event is free to attend and takes place entirely online at Prior to the event, CATA launches a weeklong celebration with videos and digital performances beginning Monday, May 4. The celebration culminates in a gala evening, which includes the debut of a short film showcasing the talents of people with disabilities as well as a virtual paddle-raise auction to support CATA programs.

Each May for more than twenty years, CATA has presented a live performance and gala at Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, MA that shares the talents of artists with disabilities in acting, dance, singing, drumming, juggling, and more. When CATA suspended its in-person programs and rehearsals in early March due to the COVID-19 crisis, the organization quickly worked to reinvent their flagship public event as an online performance.

“Even in difficult times, our mission is clear,” says CATA Executive Director Margaret Keller. “To bring joy to people with disabilities through the arts—and to share their creative spirit with our community. We knew we couldn’t skip that. And the gala is a critical fundraiser for CATA—one-third of our annual budget comes from gala donations.”

Since the pandemic began, CATA has launched a series of dynamic online programs to reach people with disabilities isolated by the pandemic. Funds raised from CATA’s virtual gala will go to support those programs.

“These online workshops are vital to combating isolation for CATA artists,” says Keller. “We need our community’s support to sustain programs for people with disabilities, to keep them connected, inspired, and fulfilled. Without those donations, CATA simply can’t happen.”

For the gala evening, CATA has been working with local filmmaker Ben Hillman to reinvent their live performance as an imaginative film that will take viewers behind the scenes and share the talents of artists with disabilities. The film will be followed by a virtual paddle-raise auction to raise money for CATA programs.

“It’s a unique chance for our audience and supporters to see the work they make possible every day,” says Artistic Director Dawn Lane. “Our virtual gala will take viewers behind the scenes and connect them with CATA artists like never before.”

CATA’s virtual gala is free and open to the public. Attendees are asked to RSVP at

CATA is proud to acknowledge the following businesses and individuals who are standing by the organization as underwriters for the Virtual Gala:

LEAD UNDERWRITERS: Allegrone Companies, The Feigenbaum Foundation, Will Osborne & Mary Pope Osborne, The Claudia Perles Family Foundation, Emily Rechnitz, Leslie & Steve Shatz, Dr. Robert C. & Tina Sohn Foundation

UNDERWRITERS: Blue Q, Linda Greenhouse & Eugene Fidell, Greylock Federal Credit Union, Joan & Jim Hunter, Joyce Linde, James Marden & Jennifer Press Marden, Kate & Joel Millonzi, Linda O’Connell, Liz & Mark Williams

PRODUCERS: Sandra Baron & Gregory Diskant, Berkshire Bank, Berkshire Health Systems, Berkshire Magazine, Canyon Ranch, Jami & Ira Grossman, MountainOne, Linda & Frank Russell, The Schnesel Family Fund, Ben & Elaine Silberstein, Danielle & Dan Stern

SPONSORS: Apella Capital, Bill Wright Photography, Judy & Tim Boomer, Neil & Kathleen Chrisman, D P Kelley Painting, Anne G. Fredericks & Marc Fasteau, Heather Wells Heim & Matthew Heim, Ann & Peter Herbst, Jane & Charlie Johnson, Marisa Labozzetta & Martin Wohl, Lee Bank, Nina & John Lipkowitz, Mezze Catering & Events, Sharon A. Mozian M.D., P.C., Paul Neely & Susan Street, Elaine Radiss & Rich Petrino, Carol & Michael Riordan, Maria Sirois, Tim & Ana Suffish, Willow Investments for Loving Change

About Community Access to the Arts: Community Access to the Arts (CATA) nurtures and celebrates the creativity of people with disabilities. Through dynamic arts workshops and public events, CATA artists tap into their potential, explore new talents, and share their unique points of view with the wider community. CATA collaborates with 50 partner organizations to bring visual and performing arts programs to 800 people with disabilities across Berkshire County, Massachusetts and Columbia County, New York. Learn more at