Garlic and Arts Festival Keeps Giving

The North Quabbin Garlic and Arts Festival may be an annual event occurring only one weekend in autumn, but its support of the region and those who live and work there continues throughout the calendar year, with more than $10,000 in grants going to various community art and food projects.

“The funds come from festival income: admission and exhibitor fees,” Garlic and Arts co-founder and Seeds of Solidarity Education Center executive director Deb Habib tells the Advocate. “With a fully volunteer committee and no paid staff, we have been able to save some aside to give, in order to support North Quabbin projects that spread the arts, agriculture, and revitalization spirit of the festival year round.”

This year, over $5,000 in grants from $300 to $2,000 will go to seven separate projects, including As the World Turns, an exhibit of works by Ralph C. Mahar Regional High School students currently showing (through May 16) in the Hampden Gallery at Umass-Amherst; entertainers and artists—including a puppeteer who provides nutrition education—who perform at farmers’ markets in Orange, Athol and Petersham; and the Northern Routes Music Festival, which brings two days of electronic, experimental, folk and rock music to New Salem’s 1794 Meetinghouse this August.

Grants also support the purchase of outdoor screen equipment, helping the monthly downtown Orange film series Movies in the Park to continue operation, and the launch of the local artist studio tour Colors of the Quabbin, organized in collaboration with the Mount Grace Conservation Land Trust.

An additional $5,000 was given to the North Quabbin Community Co-op to advance outreach to low-income families and increase the availability of local farm products at its soon-to-come location in downtown Orange. A donation was also made to the North Quabbin Food-A-Thon.

“We are now trying to give $5,000 a year,” Habib continues, “plus an annual donation to the Food-A-Thon.”

The festival’s community grant-making group includes three members from the festival community, plus another four members representing different towns who were invited to partake in the process.

“Another really important part of the festival is [to] strengthen our passion as a committee,” says Habib. “Being able to give to others energizes and nourishes the festival committee as we see the ‘benefits’ of the festival infused in other programs and projects. It also makes transparent that this is a non-profit event with a goal of community revitalization. Not just one weekend of the year, but year-round.”

(Originally appeared in the Valley Advocate.)

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