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Berks County to Celebrate Women in the Arts

Jan 07, 2020
Berks Arts Council

Through a collaborative partnership of local arts organizations, education institutions and non-profit organizations, Berks Arts Council, Reading Symphony Orchestra, Reading Musical Foundation, Miller Center for the Arts and Reading Public Museum are planning a Celebration of Women in the Arts for 2020. The Celebration presents an opportunity to focus on female artists in all genres, feature works created in multi-disciplinary art forms and facilitate a greater collaboration amongst our community. The Celebration will include special exhibits, presentations and education programs from January to June 2020.

The concept of Celebration of Women was inspired by the Bennett Prize. “The Bennett Prize, created in 2018, awards $50,000 to a woman artist to create her own solo exhibition of figurative realist paintings, which will travel the country. The Prize will propel the careers of women painters who have not yet realized full professional recognition, empowering new artists and those who have painted for many years. The Prize will expand opportunities for the public, who may not be familiar with figurative realist painting, to learn more about the creative vision of talented women painters in this increasingly popular genre.”(www. ( We are excited to share that the Bennett Prize exhibit will be featured at the Reading Public Museum for a period of 12 weeks starting on February 22, 2020. As the centerpiece of Women in Celebration our local community has been asked to plan/schedule events that embrace this theme.

The Berks History Center will be presenting programs focused on the advancement of women in our society and culturally throughout the past 100 years to recognize the centennial anniversary of women’s suffrage. An important feature of the Celebration will be creating a balance of local, regional and national talent. Berks County has an above average number of professional artists, musicians, writers, etc… and should be positioned favorably to attract regional and national talent to enhance the Celebration events.

To support our female artists to explore and/or enhance their art form, the Celebration of Women collaborative offered grants for projects/programs that features women in the arts (of any discipline). Funding was made available for both individuals and organization applicants. Grants will be managed through The Reading Musical Foundation and the Berks Arts Council. Grants have been awarded to the following:

  • Alvernia University Performing Arts Series – Jill Haley Performance of Wind of Badlands and Woman Sense a jazz and percussive dance performance
  • Barrio Alegria – Rosa’s Dances with Wolves
  • Berks History Center – Centennial of Women’s Suffrage
  • Berks Sinfonietta – Heroes and Heroines
  • Berks Youth Chorus – Sisters and Brothers in Song
  • Clay on Main – Backstitching: Contemporary Need Art Exhibit and Workshops
  • Freedman Gallery at Albright College – Anne Buckwalter: Repeating X
  • Greater Reading Alliance of Community Theatres – Blonde Bombshell
  • Opus One – International Women’s Day Concert
  • Reading Choral Society – Spring Sing
  • Reading Pops Orchestra – Five Play Performance
  • Reading Theater Project – #Women Five-Minute Fringe
  • Yocum Institute for Arts Education – No Good Things Dwell in the Flesh

Program and grant funding have been made available through Berks Arts Council, Reading Musical Foundation, The Wyomissing Foundation, Inc, Tompkins|VIST Bank, Riverfront Federal Credit Union, Steven and Elaine Bennett and The Pittsburgh Foundation.

The goals of the Celebration of Women are:

  • To raise awareness of women artists, composers, authors, filmmakers, etc.. with the idea of creating a richer cultural environment by recognizing all gifted individuals regardless of gender, race, etc..
  • Providing Leadership Development and education opportunities to women artists and our next generation of artists about the contribution of women have made and continue to make in the arts and culture sector of our community.
  • Sending the message to young women pursuing a career in the creative arts that the sky is limit (partnerships with Girls on the Run, Olivet Boys & Girls Club, Junior League of Reading, Girl Scouts, Women2Womenlocal school districts, etc…)
  • Bring together local arts organization to collaborate on events and sharing their expertise in the areas with goal of building a stronger arts community.
  • Be an economic driver for the local economy
  • Bring regional and national attention to Berks County by presenting a relevant topic which brings our community and offers experiences not found in other areas.

The Celebration of Women will provide many opportunities for women across our business, nonprofit, and government sectors to become engaged in education programs, mentoring, planning programs, and sharing their knowledge, skill and expertise with each other and the younger generation.

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