Area art venues offer patrons a deal

Bennington Museum, other venues offer shared tickets in bid to draw more visitors

BENNINGTON — Bennington Museum has joined together with arts institutions in northern Berkshire County on a new ticket initiative designed to boost visitor engagement with the local arts communities.

Now, discounted combination tickets are available for a limited time for Bennington Museum, the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, the Clark Art Institute and Williamstown Theatre Festival.

The ticket initiative is an opportunity to attract more visitors to Bennington, clearly linking Bennington Museum with other area cultural institutions, said Zirwat Chowdhury, community development director for the town of Bennington.

"It will be lovely to see this particular opportunity bring more visitors to the area," she said. "This is obviously an excellent opportunity."

The initiative is part of ArtCountry, a collaboration consisting of Bennington Museum, Mass MoCA, the Clark Art Institute, Williams College Museum of Art and Williamstown Theatre Festival that came together in the winter of 2016-17.

Bennington Museum's involvement in ArtCountry, now in its second year, has increased ticket sales at the museum, said Robert Wolterstorff, executive director of the museum.

"It's raised our visibility," he said of ArtCountry. "It has lifted us up in to this higher area. For us, it's really good to be associated with institutions like the Clark and Mass MoCA."

One ticket option, a $50 ArtCountry Summer pass, went on sale June 1, and will be valid through Labor Day.

It provides discounted one-day admission to the Clark, Mass MoCA and Bennington Museum, and also offers a 20 percent discount on a regularly priced Main Stage ticket at Williamstown Theatre Festival.

The five-day ticket is meant to make the arts accessible to people coming up for long weekends or five days to see major sights quickly, in "an intense cultural package," Wolsterstorff said.

Also on offer is a four-way ticket, offered until Dec. 31, that provides discounted one-day admission to the Clark, Mass MoCA and Bennington Museum.

A three-way ticket, for $34, offers discounted one-day admission to the Clark and MassMOCA. It is also offered until Dec. 31.

All three options also offer a 20 percent discount in the Williams College Museum of Art's museum shop.

This summer, the Clark, MassMOCA and Bennington Museum are also making their individual admission tickets valid for two consecutive days at normal single-day prices. Admission to the Williams College Museum of Art is always free.

Bennington has been recognized as an artistic town by the broader world.

In 2017, Bennington was recognized for the second time by the National Center for Arts Research. That year, it was ranked #3 in the Top 10 vibrant arts communities for micropolitan areas.

Micropolitan statistical areas have at least one urban cluster of at least 10,000, but less than 50,000 in population.

"That was really revealing to the community," said Chowdhury of the ranking. "I think it's really mobilized us to undertake what we're now doing, which is the cultural plan."

The cultural plan, currently in the drafting phase, was made possible by a regional planning grant. It is a joint project of Bennington and Manchester.

The plan, when complete, will be incorporated into local town plans to strengthen, leverage and coordinate artistic and cultural resources that address community needs and opportunities, the Banner previously reported.

As an art historian by training, Chowdhury said she thinks the arts are critical to fostering imagination, creativity and critical thinking.

"Imagining things to be better, imagining things to be more vibrant ... I think that's really critical for a community to be open to change, to be able to protect its strengths," she said. "It's kind of an obvious commitment for me."

For Bennington, the arts are a significant part of the community, with artists making and selling art and spending money in the local community, Wolterstorff said.

"I think the arts are way deeper in Bennington than people realize," he said. "There are a lot of artists here. There is art going on right here, in a significant way."

Patricia LeBoeuf can be reached at, at @BE_pleboeuf on Twitter and 802-447-7567, ext. 118.


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