Ashfield’s Double Edge theater company gets creative economy grant


For the Gazette

Published: 05-21-2017 10:52 PM

ASHFIELD — A $140,000 state grant may allow a local theater company to expand further by converting a barn into an artists’ studio.

The Double Edge Theatre has just received a Cultural Facilities Fund grant that makes it possible to complete the initial plans.

The grant was among $9.3 million awarded Thursday by the Baker-Polito administration and Massachusetts Cultural Council for organizations that have expanded the creative economy.

This is the fourth grant awarded to Double Edge over the past decade, according to Stacy Klein, founder and artistic director of Double Edge. “It’s for the completion of the whole farm plan,” she said.

The grant, which requires $140,000 in matching money from Double Edge, will be used to convert a spacious barn on Double Edge’s property on Route 116 into a studio for emerging artists.

“It will be for people in the area who want to create new works, and also for people we have from around the world who want to create their own works.” Klein said the barn is behind a residence for emerging artists that has been used for storage up until now.

Some of the grant money will also be used to create an archive and research room for both Double Edge productions and works by its collaborators. Klein said the archive and research room will also include a public gathering space.

“The other big project is to make a kitchen for Double Edge,” she said.

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Klein said Double Edge got its first Cultural Facilities Fund grant in its earliest phases — just in time to fix a then-failing septic system.

“That was a lifesaver. Twice after, we got grants to develop the farm and repair buildings that were falling down,” Klein said.

She said the grant program is special in that it helps develop existing facilities. “People will come in and give you $1 million for a new building, but they aren’t interested in giving you money to renovate an old one.”

Klein said the renovations to be paid for with the newest grant will begin this summer, and that most of the matching money has been raised.

Referring to the Double Edge Spectacle and Culture Fair planned for June 3 in Ashfield, Klein said “We’ve worked really hard to get the facilities to a special place. Our ‘spectacle’ projects are pushing us at the seams. We have 100 to 200 people participating in this spectacle,” she said.

“There’s no shortage of people who would like to be here,” said Klein. “So we really need to be about to expand capacity. It also helps the economy of the area, so we can bring more people into the area.”

According to Gov. Charlie Baker, at least $100 million in Cultural Facilities Fund awards since 2007 have supported 772 building projects in the nonprofit arts, driving cultural tourism, job growth and community vitality. Over 10 years, these projects have created at least 2,092 new permanent jobs, supported another 8,512 full-time jobs and $492 million in wages.

“Massachusetts and its communities share a rich history and diverse culture that benefit residents and attract visitors from around the nation and the world,” said Baker at an awards ceremony. “These investments in our communities’ local strengths and landmarks drive growth in tourism, jobs and our economy across the commonwealth.”