Video Highlighting Exhibit Namesake Gunnar Schonbeck Premieres Following “Bang on a Can” Recital with Exhibit Co-Curator Mark Stewart
NORTH ADAMS, MA – July 19, 2023 – The Avangrid Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Berkshire Gas’ parent company Avangrid (NYSE: AGR), on Monday announced its continued support for the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) Gunnar Schonbeck Gallery with the premiere of the short film, “Please, Touch the Exhibit: Gunnar Schonbeck and MASS MoCA’s No Experience Required.” The film premiered following the “Bang on a Can” recital, during which co-curator Mark Stewart, who is also Paul Simon’s music director, performed on Schonbeck’s oversized instruments.
“At Avangrid, we know that supporting the arts is tantamount to supporting the social and economic well-being of an entire community, and this is especially true in the beautiful and historic region serviced by Berkshire Gas,” said Pedro Azagra, CEO of Avangrid. “With this innovative new Gunnar Schonbeck exhibit, MASS MoCA demonstrates once again that it is an asset to all of New England, and I am pleased the Avangrid Foundation has chosen to support the exhibit and its accompanying video, which so many museum visitors will see and enjoy.”
The partnership between the Avangrid Foundation, Berkshire Gas, and Mass MoCA began in the earliest concept of building a contemporary art museum, as business and political leaders considered redevelopment efforts of the Sprague Complex, which closed in 1985. Berkshire Gas provided considerable financial support in seed money for the creation of the museum and has continued to support new exhibits and programming in the decades since. Since 2016, the Avangrid Foundation has continued this legacy of support, and together Berkshire Gas and the Avangrid Foundation have contributed over half a million dollars to MASS MoCA.
“I’m proud of the Avangrid Foundation’s continued support of the cultural enrichment and education provided to this community by our friends at MASS MoCA,” said Pablo Colón, Executive Director of the Avangrid Foundation and Director of Corporate Citizenship at Avangrid. “The Gunnar Schonbeck Exhibit showcases the important message that everyone has artistic talent to share, and it’s rewarding to know that the Avangrid Foundation has played a central role in both the exhibit’s launch and today’s premiere of a short film that showcases the importance of Mr. Schonbeck’s work and this amazing space to explore creativity.”
In 2011, MASS MoCA worked with Bennington College, where Schonbeck taught from 1947-2008, to move Schonbeck’s surviving instruments from the college to the museum. With the restoration and renovation of Building 6: The Robert W. Wilson Building, MASS MoCA brought Schonbeck’s distinct approach to music-making to a wide audience, encouraging visitors and artists to play and experiment. Visiting musicians to MASS MoCA, including Bang on a Can’s Mark Stewart and Wilco’s Glenn Kotche, have drawn on Schonbeck’s instruments in their performances and projects. A gallery devoted to the musicologist feels like a high school music room — outfitted with a selection of Schonbeck’s instruments available to visiting artists, MASS MoCA visitors, and local school groups.
"We are so grateful for the continued partnership and support of the Avangrid Foundation and Berkshire Gas in telling this incredible story to the world," said Sue Killam, MASS MoCA's Director of Performing Arts and Film. "To be able to work with Mark Stewart in bringing Gunnar Schonbeck's instruments to life in our spaces for people young and old has been such a privilege. This exhibition inspires the musician in us all."
“I am proud of the members of the Berkshire Gas team who have worked closely with MASS MoCA to deepen our relationship and add to this wonderful community asset,” said Frank Reynolds, President & CEO of Berkshire Gas. “Our customers in Western Massachusetts and beyond will benefit immensely from the creativity stimulated by the innovative Gunnar Schonbeck exhibit.”
To see the Gunnar Schonbeck No Experience Required exhibit, visit MASS MoCA at 1040 MASS MoCA Way, North Adams MA 01247. Summer hours, through October 2, are Wednesday-Monday, 10 AM to 6 PM. Tickets are free for MASS MoCA members and $20 for adult non-members, and the museum encourages advance ticket purchases online. For more information, please visit www.massmoca.org/visit.
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About MASS MoCA: MASS MoCA is one of the world’s liveliest centers for making and enjoying today’s most evocative art. With vast galleries and a stunning collection of indoor and outdoor performing arts venues, MASS MoCA is able to embrace all forms of art: music, sculpture, dance, film, painting, photography, theater, and new, boundary-crossing works of art that defy easy classification. Much of the work we show in our light-filled spaces, on our technically sophisticated stages, and within our lovely network of late 19th-century courtyards is made here during extended fabrication and rehearsal residencies that bring hundreds of the world’s most brilliant and innovative artists to North Adams all year round. For more information, please visit www.massmoca.org.
About Mark Stewart: Mark Stewart is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, singer and instrument designer. In addition to working extensively with Paul Simon’s as his music director, Stewart is a founding member of the Bang on a Can All-Stars band and The Jerry Wortman Nonette. He has also worked with Anthony Braxton, Bob Dylan, Cecil Taylor, Meredith Monk, Philip Glass, Bruce Springsteen, Edie Brickell, Don Byron, Paul McCartney, Marc Ribot, and in the duo Polygraph Lounge with Rob Schwimmer, with whom he also contributed to Simon & Garfunkel’s “Old Friends” reunion concert.
About Avangrid Foundation: The Avangrid Foundation is an independent, nonprofit organization that funds philanthropic investments that primarily impact communities where Avangrid, Inc. and its subsidiaries operate. Since 2001, the Avangrid Foundation and its predecessors have invested more than $32 million in partnerships that focus on building sustainable, vital and healthy communities; preserving cultural and artistic heritage; advancing education; and improving people’s lives. The Avangrid Foundation is committed to advancing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in the United States. For more information, please visit www.avangridfoundation.org.
About Berkshire Gas: The Berkshire Gas Company is a subsidiary of Avangrid, Inc. Established in 1853 and based in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, Berkshire Gas operates 765 miles of natural gas distribution pipeline, serving approximately 40,000 customers across 20 Western Massachusetts communities. For more information, visit www.berkshiregas.com.
About Avangrid: Avangrid, Inc. (NYSE: AGR) aspires to be the leading sustainable energy company in the United States. Headquartered in Orange, CT with approximately $41 billion in assets and operations in 24 U.S. states, Avangrid has two primary lines of business: networks and renewables. Through its networks business, Avangrid owns and operates eight electric and natural gas utilities, serving more than 3.3 million customers in New York and New England. Through its renewables business, Avangrid owns and operates a portfolio of renewable energy generation facilities across the United States. Avangrid employs more than 7,500 people and has been recognized by JUST Capital in 2021, 2022 and 2023 as one of the JUST 100 companies – a ranking of America’s best corporate citizens. In 2023, Avangrid ranked first within the utility sector for its commitment to the environment. The company supports the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals and was named among the World’s Most Ethical Companies in 2023 for the fifth consecutive year by the Ethisphere Institute. Avangrid is a member of the group of companies controlled by Iberdrola, S.A. For more information, visit www.avangrid.com.