Turning a New Page in the Berkshires
The Mastheads is a writers’ residency and public humanities project in Pittsfield, MA that supports the production of new, creative work. The Directors of Community Engagement and Operations, Sarah Trudgeon and Chris Schlegel (not pictured) had been working on programming for The Mastheads for three years when someone told them about EforAll.
It just so happened that EforAll was having a caravan in Great Barrington the next day so they got to learn more. And they decided to enter EforAll Berkshire’s first Pitch Contest. According to Sarah, “It was wonderful! It was such a great networking experience, to meet people, to make connections. It also helped us figure out how to describe our project clearly.”
Sarah and Chris then applied for and were accepted to the free one-year EforAll Berkshire County Accelerator Program. “The joke we always made was that we were just two poets,” said Sarah. “The thing I never would have been able to do myself, or would have been difficult to learn, was the financial aspect. To think about the bottom line, costs and revenues. We were forced to do all this research we maybe wouldn’t have done.”
After completing the Accelerator Program, Sarah says “One of our goals during the Accelerator was to increase the profile of The Mastheads. Which we were able to do. We had three times the number of applicants to our program this year. We gained hundreds of followers on Instagram, we had a couple big media pieces. There were tangible results.”
Sarah said that before the COVID-19 pandemic, “We were going to buy land for a bookstore bar that would be able to fund our work.” Today, The Mastheads’ writers’ residency program is being offered virtually. “We’re still supporting artists during this time and trying to facilitate community even though we can’t meet.”