Grant Writer Natalie Fondriest, at left, with Art Association Director Kate James. Photo by Betsy Levinson

Art Association receives major grant for Centennial Campaign

By Betsy Levinson
June 1, 2023

It was an exciting moment when Concord Art Association Director Kate James opened an email from the Massachusetts Cultural Council awarding the local arts organization $200,000 towards the building of a larger classroom space at the back of the historic building on Lexington Road.

“We all screamed,” said James. “It is a great feather in our cap for this campaign.”

Concord Art Association Director Kate James and State Rep. Simon Cataldo at a recent event. Photo by Betsy Levinson

Called the Centennial Campaign, owing to the association’s 100th anniversary, the addition will replace the outgrown and overworked classroom “with a much larger and more flexible two-classroom space, enhanced by smart technology, better lighting, multiple sinks and ample storage,” the prospectus stated.

The approved grant, from the state MCC’s Cultural Facilities Fund, was written by Art Association staffer Natalie Fondriest. It was her first grant. Ironically, her art teacher at Concord-Carlisle High School, Joe Pickman, was in the building when she found out her grant was funded.

James said the grant involved “lots of collaboration,” from architects at Battle Associates in Concord, members of the Art Association board, and “people from the arts community.”

James expects groundbreaking to start next year. The Centennial Campaign started a year ago, commemorating the association’s founding by Elizabeth Wentworth Roberts in 1922, whose paintings are hung on the walls of the building.

James said with the new expanded classroom space, the Art Association will be able to offer more classes to the public and to its 1,000 members.

“We are a teaching institution,” she said, “so we can try new things, not like you find at a museum. We are a small organization and we can let people try their hand at something new.”

The staff also face significant calls for rentals of their spaces, including the second floor gallery and patio at the back of the building. With the new classrooms, more space will be available. 

The multipurpose space will have a separate entrance and a window wall that opens onto a larger patio for en plein air classes. The new space will still be called the Loring Coleman classroom.