Around Amherst: Cultural Council grants going out to wide variety of events, projects

By SCOTT MERZBACH

Staff Writer

Published: 02-01-2023 8:59 PM

AMHERST — A self-guided walking tour of stained glass in Amherst center, the return of the annual Odenong Powwow and a poetry vending machine are among projects being supported by the Amherst Cultural Council.

Matt Holloway and Julianne Applegate, who co-chair the Cultural Council, recently announced 73 grants totaling $61,983 to support various programs and events in Amherst and the region this year. Those include music and theater events, natural environment programs and visual artists.

Among the grant recipients are Amherst Cinema, Gallery A3 and the Amherst Historical Society, and programs will include Salsa con Tacos Latin Dance lessons and edible perennial gardening and landscaping. Events being put on in conjunction with Amherst Regional High School were awarded $6,320.

State Rep. Mindy Domb, D-Amherst, said in a statement that the council is providing funds for a diverse and extensive number of recipients.

“Once again, these community volunteers, after dedicating many hours, continue to demonstrate the immense value of local cultural council involvement in the review and funding process,” Domb said.

One of the major events the council is contributing financial support to is the Spring Block Party. The council is offering $7,500 to help fund the May 21 event with the Amherst Business Improvement District. More funding is expected through the state’s Festivals and Projects program. 

Statewide, more than $3.3 million will be distributed by local cultural councils this year.

Sixth grade move 

A decision on whether the sixth graders at Amherst’s three elementary schools will be relocating to the Amherst Regional Middle School will be made by the Amherst School Committee on Feb. 16.

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In a memo from Superintendent Michael Morris to the committee on Jan. 24, Morris recommended that due to space, staffing and budget issues, along with other considerations, the move of sixth graders should be delayed from next fall to the fall of 2026.

By delaying the move, the sixth graders would become part of the middle school the same year as a new elementary school, pending approval by town voters this spring, would open at the site of the Fort River School. That school would serve K-5 students who now attend both Wildwood and Fort River schools.

Before the School Committee vote, community feedback is being sought, including at a virtual forum Wednesday from 6 to 7 p.m.

To provide comments at any time, send email to Amherstschoolcommittee@arps.org.

Free tax assistance

The Amherst Senior Center at 70 Boltwood Walk is offering the AARP TaxAide program for this filing year.

The program is free and open to all taxpayers. Internal Revenue Service-certified TaxAide volunteers will be handling tax returns.

Appointments are available beginning Tuesday and will take place on all Tuesdays through April 11.

To schedule, contact the Amherst Senior Center at 259-3060.

Business and technical assistance grants

The deadline for applying for business and technical assistance grants through the Amherst Business Improvement District, which is collaborating with the town on the project, is being extended to March 1.

Applications will be reviewed using a scoring system and then by a committee. Funding will be released immediately upon award notice.

The BID is providing open-door assistance to anyone seeking help with the program. Help is available every Wednesday in February from noon to 1 p.m. at 35 South Pleasant St.

All-State Music Festival

Four Amherst Regional High School students will be participating in the two-day Massachusetts All-State Music Festival in early March, with a culminating performance at Symphony Hall in Boston, according to the weekly school newsletter.

James Hall, Aidan Bergeron, Willa Hudson and Cynthia Tian were selected to participate. They were among several students who auditioned for the event, which is put on by the Massachusetts Music Educators Association.

Meetings

MONDAY: Public Art Commission, 6 p.m.; Town Council, 6:30 p.m., Town Room, Town Hall.

WEDNESDAY: Cultural Council, 6 p.m.

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