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Pittsfield Council OKs Honorary Street Name for Theater Leaders
By Brittany Polito, iBerkshires Staff
05:15AM / Sunday, September 18, 2022
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An illustration of how the honorary street name will look on Union Street.

Maggie LaMee, general manager of Barrington Stage, speaks at the council meeting in support of the honorary designation.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Union Street will now honor Julianne Boyd and Mary Ann Quinson of Barrington Stage Company as "Boyd Quinson Way."

The City Council on Tuesday approved the city's first honorary street naming after Ward 6 Councilor Dina Guiel Lampiasi petitioned for such a process.

Lampiasi wanted to give Pittsfield an opportunity to highlight its strengths.

"We, like so many New England towns, have an incredible history, we are the sum of the people that have lived here and come from here and often times dedicated their life's work to bettering this community," she said during last month's council meeting where the petition was approved.

"So by adopting a mechanism to commemorate these people with commemorative street signs we are really telling our history and making sure we don't forget it but also educating not only the people that live here but visitors that come through town."

The councilor explained that these two women have contributed "enormously" to the downtown revitalization of North Street and bringing people into the arts.

Underneath the original street sign will be an brown and white honorary sign at the corners of Union and North Street and Union and Northrop Street.

Boyd founded the theater company in 1995 on a "shoestring budget" and BSC purchased the historic Berkshire Music Hall at 30 Union St. 10 years later.

The facility underwent a multi-million dollar renovation and was welcomed by the city in 2006 with a parade. It was named the Boyd Quinson Stage after the two stage company leaders.

Since then, BSC has purchased and renovated four additional buildings throughout Pittsfield and has become a staple for both tourists and locals, attracting around 60,000 patrons annually.

Its 2022 budget has grown to $5.5 million with 24 year-round staff members and 180 jobs for seasonal employees and artists.  

Boyd also has directed in the stage company's 10x10 New Play Festival and many other productions. She retired at the end of this season.

Quinson, who is referred to as "Minkie," is a founding board member and president for 19 years.

She is described as being "pivotal" in BSC's relocation from its original location in Sheffield to Pittsfield and her advocacy is credited with many positive aspects of the theatre.

Quinson has a master's degree in social work and has done a great deal in that field, working with multiple related entities and opening a private practice in 1993 before becoming the board president in 1995.

She is currently the chairman and is said to provide financial leadership, passion, and vision to BSC.

The street designation was unanimously approved and multiple community members attended the meeting to speak in support of it during an open microphone.

There was an outpouring of support for the organization and the two women.

BSC's general manager Maggie LaMee described the ways that the theater contributes to the local economy and said Boyd and Quinson helped to revitalize the Pittsfield arts community.

"A little-known fact is that Barrington Stage pays for housing for all of its seasonal staff and artists to the tune of over $600,000 in rental properties throughout Pittsfield in this season of 2022, not to mention the dollars spent by our staff, our artists, our cast members, in Pittsfield restaurants, and markets and shops," she said.

"BSC also purchases over $900,000 in materials and supplies for building theatrical scenery and costumes and the upkeep of our five facilities, from local merchants, from HVAC systems to boilers to the services of plumbers and electricians and roofers and masons.

"BSC attracts upwards of 60,000 theatergoers to the area as well and the benefits are too many to mention. BSC employees and staff and patrons spend $7 million annually in the Berkshires, clearly a huge influx of revenue to the local economy."

The stage's community engagement and EDI coordinator Sharron Frazier-McClain highlighted the two leaders' commitment to the community.

She pointed to BSC's playwright mentoring project, which uses theater to help teens with social-emotional learning and provides a safe space to talk about serious life issues and the Celebration of Black Voices Festival.

"Julianne and Mary Ann both recognize the power and importance of theater and have committed themselves over the past 27 years to making the arts accessible to all," Frazier-McClain said.

"A part of the BSC's mission is to engage our community with vibrant, inclusive educational outreach programs and under Julie's leadership, BSC has made a difference in the lives of Berkshire County's many people for the past 23 years."

General contractor Andy Schnopp, who owns a construction business, said he has been working with the stage since 2005 and that it would not exist without the commitment and dedication of Boyd and Quinson.

He also pointed to BSC's support of local contractors.

"Barrington Stage works with local contractors, subcontractors, architects, and engineers on the renovation projects that they have," Schnopp said.

"Barrington Stage recognizes the building experts and is committed to the code compliance and the upkeep of the buildings they have obtained. Five buildings within Pittsfield that have been brought back to life in a way that might otherwise be neglected, about 75,000 square feet being put to good use for the community."

He added that the company works closely to eliminate any financial risks to contractors and gives them year-round work.

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