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2015 Award Recipients

Congratulations to the winners of the 2015 Commonwealth Awards:


The Boston Conservatory logo.

The Boston Conservatory
Founded in 1867, The Boston Conservatory is an independent private college with fully accredited graduate and undergraduate programs in music, dance and theater, training exceptional young performing artists for careers that enrich and transform the human experience. Known for its multi-disciplinary environment and deep community engagement, The Boston Conservatory is internationally recognized as an innovative leader among conservatory programs, focused on elevating and celebrating every aspect of the performing arts, and presenting more than 600 performances each year. The institution has established itself as an important voice in the movement to make all forms of performing arts a more visible and valued dimension of communities here and abroad. For more information, visit 


Two women sitting in a Worcester Art Museum gallery.

Worcester Art Museum
Founded in 1898, the Worcester Art Museum serves Worcester and the broader region, promoting “art and art education…for the benefit of all.” The Museum’s encyclopedic collections chronicle the extraordinary history of human creativity through fifty-one centuries, representing most of the world’s major civilizations with distinguished examples. The 38,000 piece collection includes paintings, sculpture, arms, armor, decorative arts, photography, prints, drawings, and new media. For more information, visit 



Malcolm Rogers. Photo provided by the MFA.

Malcolm Rogers
Malcolm Rogers became Director of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), in 1994, a position later endowed as the Ann and Graham Gund Director. Rogers became the longest-serving director in MFA history in May 2014, and on September 1, he marked his 20th anniversary.

During his tenure, Rogers has created a legacy of “opening doors” to the Boston community and global audiences. He has transformed this world-class destination by expanding the Museum’s encyclopedic collection, presenting innovative exhibitions, enhancing arts education programs, enlarging the MFA’s campus and renovating and expanding the Museum’s historic building.

Rogers’ initiatives are driven by the MFA’s mission: to serve a variety of people through direct encounters with works of art. This has included renovating and reopening both of the Museum’s historic entrances, which had been closed to the public for many years. In addition, Rogers eliminated admission fees for children 17 and younger, extended the Museum’s hours to 7-days a week (among the longest of any American art museum), and instituted a series of free community days and cultural events. Approximately 1 million visitors a year are exposed to infinite possibilities for education and inspiration at the Museum.

Under Rogers’ leadership, the Museum underwent a transformative building renovation and expansion, including the Art of the Americas Wing and Ruth and Carl J. Shapiro Family Courtyard, which opened in 2010. Rogers also directed the renovation of the I.M. Pei-designed Linde Family Wing for Contemporary Art, which opened in 2011. Rogers has expanded the Museum’s encyclopedic collection with nearly 68,000 acquisitions, and more than 375 exhibitions have been presented during his tenure.

Rogers is a Great Benefactor at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and a member of the Board of Overseers of the Boston Lyric Opera. Prior to his arrival at the MFA, Rogers served as Deputy Director and Deputy Keeper at the National Portrait Gallery, London. Rogers is an authority on 16th-, 17th-, and early 18th-century portraits, and has written extensively on Van Dyck’s English period, on photography and on London and its museums.


Beverly Morgan-Welch. Photo by Craig Bailey.

Beverly Morgan-Welch
Beverly Morgan-Welch is the Executive Director of the Museum of African American History in Boston and Nantucket.  With three National Historic Landmarks, among which is the African Meeting House built in 1806 in Boston, under her leadership, the Museum received the National Trust’s Preservation Honor Award for its historic restoration. Creating new programming for children and adults through two Black Heritage Trails®, collections, exhibitions, educator institutes, lectures, and concerts, she presents the powerful history of New England’s 18th and 19th centuries black abolitionist and entrepreneurial communities.

Partnerships are hallmarks of the advancement of the Museum of African American History under her leadership. In 2003, the National Trust for Historic Preservation welcomed the Museum into their family of historic sites.  A partnership with the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston created two exhibits on Black Entrepreneurs of the 18th and 19th Centuries, while another partnership with Harvard University and the National Park Service, under the banner of Freedom Rising, presented a national conference and launched the Museum’s exhibit and year-long programming on the 150th anniversaries of the Emancipation Proclamation and the Massachusetts 54th Regiment, the first black troops from the North in the Civil War.  Continuing partnerships provide college-level Freedom Rising courses taught by Museum staff.

Beverly’s experience includes being Executive Director of the Greater Hartford Arts Council; Director of Development at the Wadsworth Atheneum; a Board Member and Chair of the Audit Committee of the Bank of Hartford; Manager of Community Relations at Raytheon and Connecticut Mutual Life Insurance Company; and Assistant Dean of Admission at Amherst College.

In 2007 and 2011, Morgan-Welch chaired the Inauguration of Massachusetts’ Governor Deval Patrick.  A graduate of Smith College, her awards include the Smith Medal (2009), an Honorary Doctorate for Public Service from Suffolk University (2014), the President’s Distinguished Service Award from Bunker Hill Community College (2014), and a “You Rock” award from Roxbury Community College (2014). She is a Member of the Antiquarian Society, Massachusetts Historical Society, Heritage Guild and Colonial Society of Massachusetts.


Creative Community

Sidewalk art sale in the Town of Plymouth. Photo by Denise Maccaferri.

Town of Plymouth
Plymouth, Massachusetts is known for its historic significance as the first permanent and sustaining colony in the New World. If Massachusetts invented America, then Plymouth invented Massachusetts. The largest town in the Commonwealth, Plymouth is teeming with nearly 400 years of history, natural beauty, outdoor recreation, and local arts and culture. Whether it be in the form of musical and theater performances, art shows and exhibits, Whale Watches out of Plymouth Harbor, or the immigration history realized in the Cordage Park complex and architecture, Plymouth stirs the imaginations of domestic and international visitors – over a million and a half annually.


Artists painting by the Gloucester Harbor.

City of Gloucester
America’s oldest seaport, the City of Gloucester is known throughout the world as an authentic, working waterfront community, a place of spectacular natural beauty, and home to a diverse population of about 30,000 residents. Gloucester is proud of its culture, where a rich maritime heritage and visual art, writing, theater and music have co-existed for centuries.

In recent years, Gloucester has been actively diversifying its traditional maritime economy while investing in its cultural economy. In 2012, Gloucester’s Rocky Neck Cultural District became one of the first cultural districts designated in Massachusetts.

The same year, the Gloucester HarborWalk was unveiled as a showcase for the city’s working waterfront, beloved cultural institutions and world-class artists. In 2013, Gloucester became the first community in Massachusetts to be granted two cultural district designations with approval of the Gloucester Harbortown Cultural District by the Mass Cultural Council. Gloucester received the prestigious designations because of its unparalleled setting along the boundaries of the working waterfront and its rich concentration of museums, performing arts spaces, studios, galleries, and unique locally owned shops and restaurants.


Creative Youth Development

John Macero & Trudy Macero

We honor John and Trudy Macero of Winthrop for their sustained commitment to providing children in Winthrop with quality arts education in school and afterschool. John Macero is Superintendent, Winthrop Public Schools; & Trudy Macero is the founder and Director of the Winthrop School of Performing Arts.

As Superintendent of Schools, John Macero has fostered the development of Music Matters, a non-profit bringing music back to the public school curriculum. Winthrop now has bands in the elementary school and a choral group in the high school, the “Vocal Vikings.” In his career as an educator and school administrator he has consistently emphasized the importance of the arts to learning

Trudy Macero is the founder and director of the Winthrop School of Performing Arts, where John had worked as the acting coach for many years. Trudy was a professional singer and dancer touring as a performer for the William Morris Agency. A mentor and role model to hundreds of children as director of her school, Trudy has also been a generous benefactor to the drama program at Winthrop High School. She has produced and directed several fundraising shows that resulted in the purchase of much-needed equipment, such as a new light board, sound system, and curtains. She has allowed the Winthrop Playmakers free use of her school for rehearsals and performing space. Also, Trudy served many terms on the Board of Directors of the Winthrop Chamber of Commerce, including two years as President, in which she ran several community festivals and cultural events.


Actors taking a bow.

Barrington Stage Company
Barrington Stage Company (BSC), founded in 1995, is a not-for-profit professional theater company in the Berkshires (MA), with a three-fold mission: to produce top-notch, compelling work; to develop new plays and musicals; and to find fresh, bold ways of bringing new audiences into the theatre, especially young people.  Embarking on its 21st season, BSC is now the fastest growing arts venue in Berkshire County, attracting more than 56,000 patrons each year to its performances, events and programs.

BSC has produced several award-winning plays and musicals, including its 1995 production of The Diary of Anne Frank, which won the Elliott Norton/Boston Theatre Critics Award and its 1997 production of Cabaret, which won two Elliott Norton/Boston Theatre Critics Awards and four Outer Critics Awards.  In 2004, BSC developed and premiered William Finn and Rachel Sheinkin’s musical, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, which took Broadway by storm and captured two Tony Awards and three Drama Desk Awards.  In 2013, BSC’s production of On the Town received rave reviews and is currently enjoying a Broadway run. Throughout our history, BSC has persisted in its dedication to new work and emerging talents and in its efforts to engage youth through its nationally recognized educational programs.

A mainstay in BSC’s commitment to education and to local youth outreach is our Playwright Mentoring Project (PMP), an intensive, six-month, out-of school program that uses theatre as a catalyst to help at-risk youth learn valuable life skills that can aid them in developing positive self-images.  Teens create an original performance piece based on their own stories in a safe and confidential environment where they can express themselves while developing conflict resolution skills.  PMP currently serves 70 young people across Berkshire County, including two court-mandated groups in association with Juvenile Court’s in Pittsfield and North Adams.  In 2014, the PMP program concluded with 25 performances in schools and community centers and reached more than 1,850 Berkshire County residents. Notably, in 2007, PMP received the national “Coming Up Taller Award” from the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, the nation’s highest honor for after-school and out-of-school programs.


Cultural Philanthropy 

Kids at a Highland Street Foundation program

Highland Street Foundation, Newton

For the past 25 years, the McGrath Family and the Highland Street Foundation have worked to enrich the lives of children and families in Massachusetts by investing more than $155 million in worthy nonprofit organizations in the areas of education, housing, mentorship, healthcare, environment and the arts. From its support of the TADpole Playground on Boston Common, providing tickets to sporting events to local nonprofits, building capacity through technical assistance to hundreds of nonprofit organizations, and increasing housing for those most in need through Home Funders, the foundation is dedicated to expanding opportunities for families in Massachusetts and beyond.

In addition to Free Fun Fridays, Highland Street partners with those who share its commitment to promoting the diverse arts and cultural sector that is such a vital component to the fabric of our Commonwealth by supporting significant events including First Night Boston and newer initiatives such as the Citi Performing Arts Center’s ArtWeek, which showcases some of the most unique and creative art experiences in Greater Boston.


Barr Foundation logo

Barr Foundation
Established in 1997, the Barr Foundation is one of the largest private foundations in New England. With annual grantmaking of nearly $60 million, Barr’s mission is to invest in human, natural, and cultural potential, serving as thoughtful stewards and catalysts. The Foundation’s grantmaking focuses on providing quality education, mitigating climate change, and enhancing cultural vitality. From Barr’s home in Boston, we principally support regional efforts, with targeted national engagement. Since 2010, the Foundation has also been exploring opportunities for global investments, predominantly in rural areas of Haiti, sub-Saharan Africa, and India. Barr’s goal for its arts and culture program is to enhance cultural vitality in the Boston region. Recent investments have been focused in four areas: 1) strengthening anchor organizations, 2) nurturing the next generation of artists and arts lovers, 3) promoting innovative practice, and 4) developing civic policy, leadership, and resources for arts and culture. Barr currently awards approximately $7 million annually in arts and culture funding. For more information, visit:



Mayor Martin Walsh

Mayor Martin Walsh, Boston

Mayor Martin J. Walsh, an accomplished advocate for working people and a proud product of the City of Boston, was sworn in as the City’s 54th Mayor on January 6, 2014. With a commitment to opportunity, community, and equality for every resident and neighborhood, Mayor Walsh hit the ground running to move Boston forward. After a year of historic firsts in public safety, economic growth, housing access, school reform, and government transparency, Mayor Walsh has set out his vision for Boston as a thriving, healthy, and innovative global leader of the 21st century.

Mayor Walsh believes the arts are crucial to both expressing and achieving this vision. In his first year in office, Mayor Walsh doubled community arts funding, by committing to match the Mass Cultural Council’s annual grant to the Boston Cultural Council; took steps to improve the artist permitting process; revived the poet laureate program, naming Danielle Legros Georges Boston’s Poet Laureate; and appointed Julie Burros the City’s first Chief of Arts and Culture in more than two decades, elevating the conversation about the arts to the highest level of City government. Over the next year and a half the Chief of Arts and Culture will guide a cultural planning process for the city, which will build a long-term strategy for enriching and strengthening civic life through the arts. Mayor Walsh is committed to making Boston the municipal arts leader of the 21st century.

Prior to serving as Mayor, Walsh was a member of the Massachusetts House of representatives, representing the 13th Suffolk district from 1997 until 2013. Mayor Walsh is a lifelong resident of Dorchester and a graduate of Boston College. He shares his life with his longtime partner, Lorrie Higgins, and her daughter, Lauren.


A Far Cry outside ArtsBoston BosTix booth in Copley Square, Boston.

ArtsBoston is a champion for Greater Boston’s arts and cultural community, and a collaborative partner for public, private, and nonprofit leaders who seek to engage more deeply with the sector. We believe active participation with our region’s artists, organizations and rich cultural heritage encourage us all to be more engaged citizens, and our programs enhance the sector’s capacity to transform lives, build stronger communities, and strengthen the local economy. With a membership of over 170 arts organizations of all disciplines and sizes, we are celebrating our 40th Anniversary in 2015.

The ArtsBoston Audience Initiative is the flagship of ArtsBoston’s growing work in the arena of cultural data and leverages a database of 1.5 million arts-going households. Its purpose is two-fold. It provides sector-wide context of audience participation regionally and it also helps arts organizations unlock the power of data to provide strategic direction, benchmarks of best practices, and measurable results for marketing and development efforts. The Boston Globe highlighted the Audience Initiative in its 2014 “Game Changers” issue celebrating the people and things making Massachusetts “a national leader in innovation.”

The first Arts Factor cultural impact report, released in June 2014, has quickly become a powerful resource for arts advocates and policymakers, and was listed as one of our region’s “20 best new big ideas” by The Boston Globe. It provides easy-to-share data and compelling case studies detailing the cross-cutting role the arts play in our regional identity, economic vitality, reputation for innovation, and community transformations.

In addition, ArtsBoston is a powerful gateway for millions of arts-goers each year. is the region’s most comprehensive arts calendar visited by half a million people annually, and amplified through engaging digital content and social media platforms. ArtsBoston’s Booths in Faneuil Hall Marketplace and Copley Square welcome over 20 million visitors every year to the City of Boston. BosTix discount ticketing, both online and in-person, provides affordable access to performing arts events to over 75,000 people each year. And ArtsBoston’s collaborative promotions like Mayor’s Holiday, presented in partnership with the City of Boston and the Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau, shine a bright spotlight on our vibrant cultural scene.



WBUR ARTery logo

WBUR, Boston

Launched in 2013, The ARTery is the region’s online arts destination presented by WBUR, Boston’s NPR news station. The ARTery showcases WBUR’s commitment to covering the richness of New England’s arts offerings with a mixture of reviews, news and features.

Along with its original content, The ARTery aggregates the best arts reporting from 90.9 WBUR-FM and from NPR. The coverage categories range from Sights, Sounds and Screens to Stages, Words and Experiences. While The ARTery’s primary focus is on the region, its coverage ranges across the nation.

The ARTery is powered by editor and critic-at-large Ed Siegel, along with reporter and critic Greg Cook, with support from an award-winning roster of arts journalists from the Greater Boston area. Notable contributors include WBUR Arts Reporter Andrea Shea, Pulitzer Prize winner Lloyd Schwartz, George Jean Nathan Award winner Carolyn Clay, Renee Graham and Amelia Mason, among others.


WBGY logo

WGBY, Springfield

WGBY connects the people of western New England with ideas, events and each other to fulfill their aspirations enrich their lives and improve their communities.  Through its local program production, education outreach and engagement of residents within diverse communities, WGBY positively impacts people of all demographics.

WGBY brings thousands of people into our studios and connects them with many, many thousands of people throughout our region and the world. Our programs are a platform for a multitude of diverse arts and educational organizations to inform the public about what they do and what it means to the community.  Our station also produces programs such as “As Schools Match Wits”, “Together in Song”, which celebrates, showcases, and engages the choral community of our viewing area.  With an estimated 42.6 million Americans singing in school, community, and church choirs, choral singing has become our nation’s number one form of arts participation.  “Connecting Point”, our weekday on-air magazine creates more than 50 segments per season devoted to local arts and culture.  WGBY is proud to collaborate with local arts and cultural partners including; Enchanted Circle Theatre, Springfield Symphony, Double Edge Theater Company, Academy of Music, Berkshire Museum, Springfield Museums and Hancock Shaker Village to name a few.  We also work with the local artist community including Josh Simpson, Frank Kitchen, and Tim Scull.



Enchanted Circle Theater logo

The Enchanted Circle Theater & The Hitchcock Center
Founded in 1976, Enchanted Circle Theater (ECT) is a non-profit, educational theater company, which engages, enhances, and inspires learning through the arts. Considered the regional leader in arts integration, ECT uses theater arts as a dynamic teaching tool on the stage, in the classroom, and in the community. They work in public schools, pre-schools, university classrooms, professional theaters, community centers, and with health and human service agencies with people of all ages and abilities.  ECT works closely with district leaders in Holyoke, Springfield, and Amherst, and collaborates with over 35 community partners.  They have been called “the antidote to the dropout rate.” ECT’s arts integration programs integrate theater arts – theater, dance, music, visual, media and literary arts – with academic and social curricula to improve academic achievement and support the development of social and emotional health.

Enchanted Circle Theater has earned area and national acclaim, performing in venues including the Smithsonian Institution, the John F. Kennedy Library, and at the Piccolo Spoleto Festival in Charleston, SC. In 2013, ECT received the New England Public Radio Arts & Humanities Award for Outstanding Organization. In 2011, ECT received the Arts/Learning award for “Outstanding Collaborative in Theatre.” Priscilla Kane Hellweg, Executive Artistic Director of ECT, was named Outstanding Artist-in-Residence by the Massachusetts Alliance for Arts Education. In 2014, Priscilla received a Civic Pride Award from the City of Holyoke, and a Milestone Award from the National Guild for Community Arts Education for her contributions to the field.

ECT has been infusing arts and science content in partnership with the Hitchcock Center for the Environment since 1995. Content areas include: Electricity, Magnets, Weather, Engineering Design, Storm Drain Art and Advocacy, and Animal Adaptations.  Their most recent collaboration, WORKING WITH WATER: From STEM to STEAM, is a training program for teachers at ECT’s Institute for Arts Integration.  The program focuses on the interaction between humans and water explores the water cycle, design, and technology through the arts.


Educator and student at environmental education program at the Hitchcock Center for the Environment.

Hitchcock Center for the Environment

The Hitchcock Center for the Environment, located in Amherst, Massachusetts, works to inspire people to learn about our natural world through innovative, hands-on environmental education programs. They help people explore the interconnections between human health and healthy ecosystems, reinforcing innate bonds with nature, and looking to natural systems as models and measures to improve our quality of life.

Their exceptional educators stay at the forefront of environmental and science education. They work at the Center, and across the wider Connecticut River Valley, to present activities in classrooms and communities. They also develop innovative, multi-disciplinary curricula to address the ever more urgent issues facing our environment.



Robotics demo at Cambridge Science Festival.

Cambridge Science Festival
The MIT Museum’s mission is to engage the wider community with MIT’s science, technology and other areas of scholarship in ways that will best serve the nation and the world in the 21st century. The Museum features ongoing and changing exhibitions, currently with an emphasis on robotics, photography and holography, kinetic sculpture, MIT student work, and current MIT research. The Museum produces and presents monthly STEAM programs that target middle to high school students and adults; school vacation week programs; and the annual Cambridge Science Festival in April.

The Festival, the first of its kind in the United States, is a celebration showcasing the leading edge in science, technology, engineering, art, and/or math in our region.  A multifaceted, multicultural event, the Cambridge Science Festival makes science accessible, interactive and fun, highlighting the impact of STEAM in all our lives. The Festival offers a wide range of STEAM-related activities – lectures, debates, exhibitions, concerts, plays, workshops, etc. – over 10 days in a variety of locations.  Modeled on art, music, and movie festivals, the Cambridge Science Festival makes STEAM part of the wider culture by illuminating the richness of scientific inquiry and the excitement of discovery. The Festival’s collaborators – The MIT Museum, Harvard University, the City of Cambridge, Cambridge Public Schools, Cambridge Public Library, and the Museum of Science – reach out to K-12 students, the general public, and the science community, to excite and ignite curiosity.

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