FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. – The Academy of Music was recently awarded a $34,800 state grant toward the design, construction and installation of an illuminated marquee to replace the one that was removed several years ago during building restoration work.

The grant, awarded by MassDevelopment and the Massachusetts Cultural Council, is among 22 Cultural Facilities Fund grants totaling $2.1 million given to organizations throughout the state for building projects that increase tourism and expand arts and cultural activities.

“The marquee was an iconographic symbol of Northampton’s rich cultural heritage,” said Andrew Crystal, president, Academy of Music Board of Trustees. “I look forward to the day when the red neon script will again illuminate the night to promote upcoming performances.”

Eight years ago, the marquee above the front entrance to the downtown historic theatre was removed to allow for necessary maintenance and restoration of the building. After it was taken down, neither the Academy nor the City of Northampton had enough funding to replace it.

Until that time, the marquee had provided the primary source of promotion for the films and live events at the Academy, according to Crystal. And, since then, two independent planning reports – Dulcie Gilmore Associates Business Plan Transition and Janice Barlow & Associates Report on Business Planning Process – recommended its replacement.

The Cultural Facilities Fund grant will cover nearly half of the cost of the marquee replacement project. The remainder is expected to come from other fundraising efforts.

The signage will help promote events, attract tourists into the City of Northampton and further brand the city as a cultural destination, said Crystal.

Within the past year, dozens of arts organizations have performed upon the magnificent Academy of Music stage, including Pioneer Valley Ballet, Commonwealth Opera, Pioneer Valley Performing Arts High School, Pioneer Art Center of Easthampton (PACE Theater), Pioneer Valley Symphony Orchestra, Northampton Arts Council, Young @ Heart Chorus, Springfield Symphony and WGBY.

In addition to spotlighting coming performers, the marquee is expected to illuminate the front entry stairs and the ornate carvings and details on the façade of the stone building.