Hilltown Art & Thriving Community Happenings

H.A.T.C.H. was a pilot program designed to inspire, support, and help fund creative projects that engage the hilltown communities of western Franklin County. The program supported the development, refinement, and launching of projects brought forward by artists and other community members and is funded, in part, by a Massachusetts Cultural Council Adams Grant awarded to the Greater Shelburne Falls Area Business Association (GSFABA), the parent company of West County Arts & Culture.

During each round of H.A.T.C.H. there were multiple free workshops, conducted by Jane Beatrice Wegscheider of The Art Garden, and Phyllis Labonowski, her frequent collaborator.  Artists received feedback and guidance on their projects and applications. After all project applications were submitted, a team of judges reviewed each one and awarded seed money to the proposals most aligned with the goals of H.A.T.C.H. Then, each artist was given the opportunity to showcase their project and solicit help from the community at the H.A.T.C.H.ing Event.

H.A.T.C.H. 1 Winning Projects

The following projects were awarded funding during the 1st round of H.A.T.C.H.:


Bridge of Flowers Crosswalks by Rachelle Royer-Llamas
Rachelle will design crosswalks with images of flowers and bridge arches that will (literally and figuratively) "bridge" pedestrians across roads in the Village of Shelburne Falls and will ultimately lead people to the famous Bridge of Flowers. Over time, as supported by the community, Rachelle would like to add crosswalks which bring people to other points of interest in the village.

Sammy and the Grand Buffet at SYRUP: One Sweet Performing Arts Festival by Jonathan Mirin and Godelieve Richard of Piti Theatre Company
A Hilltown-inspired theatre performance featuring two-time Grammy winner Bill Harley and an all ages cast from our region. The premier will take place at Piti Theatre's 8th Annual SYRUP Festival on March 18 and 19, 2017.


Songbird Sings by Robin Lane
Robin's project will engage members of the community encompassing the GSFABA's 10 towns to write and record a song describing life in our community. The song will be professionally recorded, mixed, and mastered. It can then serve as both a promotional tool for the GSFABA, drawing in tourists and potential business owners, and as a sort of anthem for the community.

Memoir Maps: Remembering and Mapping Favored, Beloved and Local Places by David Arfa
David's project will allow elders to reminisce together and share stories of their favorite local field, forests, streams, and paths. In addition, simple maps will be created along with the stories to highlight the special reasons these sites are favored and beloved places.

H.A.T.C.H. 1 Winning Projects
H.A.T.C.H. 2 Winning Projects

The following projects were awarded funding during the 2nd round of H.A.T.C.H.:

Conway Rags to Paper Project by Jacqueline Gens and Madeline Liebling
The Conway Rags to Paper Project will collect, process, and beat cotton rags from Conway residents to create pulp which will then be used in making handmade paper specifically for the 250th anniversary of Conway. This paper will become the base to contain writing by participants and artist members related to the history, stories, and personal connection to the town of Conway, which will then be mounted in a variety of formats (ex. scrolls, mural, and folding books) for exhibition during the three-day anniversary.

Poetry in the Rain by Laurie Wheeler
This project is a subtle, hidden-until-it-rains one, in which poetry or prose by area writers is stenciled onto the sidewalks with a water-resistant adhesive that is only seen when it rains. When the weather is dry the words are not visible. The purpose is to help people find the sacredness of poetry, language, and landscape in everyday life, in the places where the natural meets the man-made.

The Shad Ladder Radio Hour by Sarah Kanabay
A community-driven, collaborative radio variety hour recorded live once a month, by and for the hilltown communities and Franklin County. The radio program will also be available as a podcast for listeners beyond our borders. Listen to the podcast here!


The Cuckoo Clock Master's Apprentice by Reed Arahood
Using a combination of puppets and human actors, this original play explores a parallel, magical reality in which the main character, Compass, leaves the security of their hidden home only to discover a world filled with prejudice. The audience follows Compass through the performance space on a journey to overcome discrimination, deal with grieft, and ultimately, find purpose in life.

The Listening Ear by Christian McEwen
Christian will create a giant papier-mâché ear and a small portable booth, and will offer 5 "open listening" sessions at the Ashfield Farmer's Market in May and June 2017. The Listening Ear will build on Ashfield's already well-established habit of chat, offering a venue where people have the chance to talk for longer and at greater depth than usual, and can focus on whatever matters to them most.


Exploded View, River by Edite Cunha, Trish Crapo, and Candace Curran
A community-engaged inquiry project of the West County Deerfield River watershed culminating in a multi-media public performace in Shelburne Falls. Eight dynamic women artist and writers will use stories, memories, and local knowldege about the River(s) gathered from residetns to weave eight unique, creative threads through the weft of "River."