Cultural Capital is a one of the seven major capitals in development. In North Adams Massachusetts, cultural capital is very interesting to discuss because of its rich history and its current growing art community. New England is home to many old mill towns that lost their residence, work force, and the local economy crashed due to the closure of many factories. North Adams is an example of one of these towns. In the late 70’s, North Adams’ main factories went out of business which caused 26 factory sized buildings to be abandoned and the loss of 3000 local jobs (NPR). In 2014 the United States Census Bureau found that 18.9% of North Adams residents live below the poverty Line, compared to the national of 14.5% (American Factfinder 9/30). North Adams has still yet to recover since its collapse in the late 70’s.
Yet while many locals saw this as the end, Joe Thompson saw this as an opportunity. Thompson decided to create one of the largest contemporary art museums in the world, MASS MoCA, to boost the local economy with new jobs and invite some of the best artist in the world to show their art in a small Berkshire town (NPR). Unfortunately after only providing 300 new jobs, MASS MoCA did not bring as much relief as expected. On a tour of the new museum, a former factory worker criticized Thompson for underutilizing the space, “Oh no. It’s terrible. It’s so light and empty and when we worked here, these windows were covered. There were bookshelves in front of them and parts bins, and it was dark and full of activity and jobs. And now it’s just light. And empty. (NPR)”
Although MASS MoCA did not have the impact people thought it would, some believe art is only way to reinvent North Adams. The Berkshire Cultural Resource Center is a nonprofit that supports local galleries (NPR). They have helped open two new galleries on Main Street. The needed reinventing of North Adams from an old mill town to an exciting art town will take a cultural change.
Ulaby, N. (2012, August 20). North Adams, Mass.: A Manufacturing Town For Art. Retrieved September 30, 2016, from http://www.npr.org/2012/08/20/159357612/north-adams-mass-a-manufacturing-town-for-art
Data Access and Dissemination Systems (DADS). (n.d.). American FactFinder – Community Facts. Retrieved September 30, 2016, from https://factfinder.census.gov/faces/nav/jsf/pages/community_facts.xhtml