CATA Spring Newsletter 2022

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NEWS It’s SHOW-TIME! And we need YOU to make it happen! Spring 2022 CATA artist Freda and faculty Dan—ready for the spotlight in CATA’s Annual Performance

It’s SHOW-TIME for CATA artists. But we need YOU to make it happen!

It’s CATA’s biggest moment of the year. CATA artists share their talents in dazzling performances—and our community comes together to celebrate their creativity. YOU are the essential, final ingredient: you provide the audience—and your gala support makes our programs possible, pure and simple.

As people with disabilities recover from one of the most challenging periods in their lives, CATA artists need to feel their community coming together to support them. This year— to reach as many people as possible and raise critical funds to support programs—we’re planning TWO gala events: an in-person gala on May 7 AND a virtual gala on May 21. But we can’t do it without you.

“For many people with disabilities, the challenges of the pandemic have not let up,” says Margaret Keller, CATA’s Executive Director. “The trauma of isolation and loss have taken a heavy toll. CATA programs are especially important now so our artists can connect with each other and express themselves creatively.”

Right now, demand for CATA is at an alltime high. Every dollar you give brings life-changing arts programs to people with disabilities.

As a small nonprofit, CATA relies on funds raised at our gala to support our work: one-third of our budget comes from this one event. That’s why your support now is so important.

“CATA is like an essential vitamin or mineral,” say Gala Co-Chairs Mitch and Caitlin Nash.

“At CATA, artists can let loose and share who they are. We support CATA because everyone should be on equal footing in the world.”

“CATA provides pathways to creativity—and makes sure everyone has a way to flourish,” say Co-Chairs Eva and Kip Sheridan. “CATA has the formula for turning dollars into BIG impact. And that’s what it’s all about. Donors at every level make CATA possible.”


p CATA actors Ethan and Dan on set filming a scene from Shakespeare. Don’t miss their performance— plus music, juggling, dance, and more!

Your Guide to the CATA Gala:

Don’t miss CATA’s most exciting event of the year—featuring an electrifying new film and the chance to support CATA programs. Here’s how you can join in:

Gala Evening

May 7 @ 5pm

Presented at Shakespeare & Company

*Limited tickets!*

Please call CATA at (413) 528-5485 to add your name to our waitlist.

Whether you’re a ending in person or tuning in virtually, there is SO MUCH to look forward to at this year’s CATA Gala!

“The heart of this year’s event is an electrifying new film packed with breathtaking performances by CATA artists—in dance, acting, singing, drumming, comedy, juggling, and more,” says Margaret. “We’ll take you behind the scenes at CATA to see our workshops and hear from our artists.”

“This year’s gala theme—‘AND’—is a terrific springboard for CATA artists’ creativity. We’re working with filmmaker Ben Hillman to create a powerful celebration of inclusion. Show co-directors Kelly Galvin, Olivia Martin, and Stefanie Weber have scouted out inventive locations across the Berkshires, and with CATA faculty, they’ve directed CATA artists in unforge able performances.”

The gala will culminate in a lively fundraiser where you can show your support—whether you’re in the theater or tuning in from home. Get ready to be swept away in a cascading tumult of art and joy!


May 8 @ 1pm

Presented at Shakespeare & Company

Don’t miss this exciting film screening with performances by CATA artists!

Matinee tickets available through the Shakespeare & Company Box O ce. Call (413) 637-3353 or visit

Virtual Gala

May 21 @ 6pm (FREE!)

Tune in for our exciting new film with performances by CATA artists—and show your support in our lively fundraiser.

Visit to RSVP. Return to our website on May 21, sit back, & enjoy the show!

Make it festive by hosting your own “watch party!” Invite friends and family to tune in and support CATA.

Because of you...

CATA never stopped!

Your support helps CATA engage artists with disabilities across the community.

p Students at Taconic Hills Senior High School let their creativity fly. Le , artist Tom (Guidewire) shows off his painting in a CATA art show.

It’s Friday at the Dalton CRA. A group of teens and adults with disabilities are excited for their first CATA yoga workshop. CATA faculty Paula Boyajian welcomes each person with a warm smile, then invites everyone to join in a calming exercise. “Breathe in...and li your shoulders to your ears!”

Throughout the pandemic, donors like you have helped us deliver on our mission, day in and day out. Because of you, CATA never stopped—even when the going got (and stayed) tough.

“When COVID first hit, we heard from artists, partners, and families about how they needed a creative outlet,” says Kara Smith, CATA Program Co-Director. “Without missing a beat, we transformed our programs to reach artists online and hand delivered art supplies and care packages to people in isolation. In those most difficult days of the pandemic, CATA became a lifeline for so many.”

Last fall, 90% of CATA’s programs went back inperson. “Seeing CATA artists reunite with each other—at CATA’s beautiful new studios, and at schools, day programs, residences, and nursing homes—has been joyful,” says Kara.

Thanks to your support, CATA’s work has not only kept going during the pandemic—it’s grown.

“We’re working closely with artists and partners to learn about the challenges they’re facing and the creative opportunities they’re craving,” says Jeff Gagnon, CATA Program Co-Director. “We’re tailoring our programs to meet the needs of the community—expanding into new art forms and where possible, offering programs free of charge to make sure everyone can participate.”

Over in North Adams, CATA artists at UCP of Western Massachuse s are gathering for CATA’s songwriting workshop. When faculty Wes Buckley arrives, the artists share the names of their favorite pop songs. Wes strums the opening chords to “Jolene” and everyone joins in to sing.


p Anthony and Richard (BFAIR) tap into their musical talents in a drumming workshop—and Susan “Boothie” (Riverbrook Residence) smiles with her painting in CATA’s exhibit at the Berkshire Botanical Garden. Your support gives CATA artists an opportunity to share their creativity with the community.

“CATA is a safe space where UCP members can explore new interests,” says Jennifer Summers, Senior Director of Program Operations at UCP. “In CATA workshops, their social circles and community connections grow.”

“Some of our members are nonspeaking,” adds Jennifer. “They can’t tell you with words how the workshops make them feel. But they show you what it means to them through their artwork and the pride they have for what they’ve created.”

Back at the CRA, Paula leads the group in a final yoga pose. The workshop is part of CATA’s “Creativity Corner,” a new pilot program where CATA artists dive into a new art form each week—from acting and dance, to songwriting, storytelling, and yoga.

“Working with CATA is a win-win partnership,” says Alison Peters, Executive Director of the Dalton CRA. “The enjoyment that CATA provides,

the outlet for expression—it’s huge. Having access to new adaptive arts programs is so meaningful for our families at the CRA.”

Without the support of donors like you, CATA’s programs simply wouldn’t be possible. Your donations make it possible for us to be nimble, tenacious, and creative to engage artists with disabilities all across the community.

“When our UCP members do CATA, they feel joy and self-affirmation,” says Jennifer Summers. “CATA has a deep respect for the needs of every individual. They’re a truly inclusive organization.”

Your generosity brings life-changing arts programs to CATA artists in our community. Please give today and make a difference at CATA!


Supporters Evelyn and Frank LaRagione: “At CATA, the artists are always number one”

Evelyn and Frank LaRagione, longtime CATA supporters, say “CATA isn’t just a place—it’s an opportunity.”

During Evelyn’s career as a speech language pathologist in the Lenox Public Schools, she helped bring students with disabilities to CATA for weekly arts workshops. Their trips gave her students a creative outlet—and a way to practice life skills in the community.

“Every week our students would go to CATA for singing and drumming—and we made a whole day of it,” says Evelyn. “We took the bus into Great Barrington, practicing communication and social skills along the way. It was just amazing to see the students grow through that experience.”

Before long, Evelyn was on stage with her students, singing in CATA’s Gala & Annual Performance. Every year since, the CATA Gala has been a “must see” for her family.

“Every time I see a CATA show I’m just overwhelmed,” says Frank. “We have so many favorite parts—comedy, juggling, Shakespeare! We look forward to going every year.”

For students with disabilities, the transition out of high school can be full of questions and unknowns. “Where are they going to go? What are they going to do for fun, or for growth and learning?” CATA steps in to fill that gap. It fills Evelyn with joy and pride to see artists who were once her students, and are now adults, performing in the CATA show.

“I had a student who almost never smiled. And now, every time she’s on stage, she’s grinning with a big smile. At CATA, the artists just blossom.”

Having been involved with CATA for over 20 years, Evelyn and Frank have seen first hand how their donations make a difference.

“As CATA has grown, the artists are still always number one,” says Frank. “I know that our money is going to a great cause and to an organization whose core values are rooted in their mission.”

“CATA isn’t just a place,” says Evelyn. “CATA is an opportunity for people to fully participate in the arts. CATA faculty work with each individual where they are and build on their skills. The artists really look forward to it and they just grow so much. It’s such a great experience to be part of CATA.”

Join Evelyn & Frank LaRagione and make a gift to support the talents of CATA artists.

 Evelyn (right) with CATA artist Sonali (le ) in CATA’s 2009 Annual Performance photo by Richard Migo photo of Justin by Christina Lane

What CATA artists LOVE about programs YOU make possible...

“Singing at CATA and playing my favorite Beatles songs!” - Peter (Leander House)
“I like singing—it’s fun!” Justin (BCArc)
“CATA encourages me to be a better artist. I love playing instruments and making art!” George (W.E.B. Du Bois Middle School)
“I learned to juggle at CATA. I juggled three balls my first try!” Aiyana (BFAIR)
photo of Justin by Christina Lane

THANK YOU to CATA’s Gala Underwriters!

We’re grateful to the following individuals and businesses who are standing with CATA as gala underwriters. Without your support, our work simply can’t happen.


Berkshire Bank • The Feigenbaum Foundation

The Fontana Family • Linda Greenhouse & Eugene Fidell

Greylock Federal Credit Union

Will Osborne & Mary Pope Osborne

Claudia Perles & Gerry Fultz • Emily Rechnitz

Leslie & Stephen Shatz • Dr. Robert C. & Tina Sohn Foundation


Anonymous • Allegrone Companies • Donna A. Bernstein

Blue Q • Canyon Ranch • Neil & Kathleen Chrisman

Liz & Tom Costley • Fallon Health • Stephanie Gi leman

Ira & Jami Grossman • Joan & Jim Hunter • Sarah Hunter

James Marden & Jennifer Press Marden • Merit

MountainOne • Neuberger Berman • Eva & Kip Sheridan

Danielle & Dan Stern • Liz & Mark Williams


Sandra Baron & Gregory Diskant • Berkshire Health Systems

Berkshire Magazine • Virginia & James Giddens

Heather Wells Heim & Ma hew Heim Seth & Mary Nash • Ben & Elaine Silberstein


Apella Capital • Balance Rock Investment Group • Berkshire Property Agents Blue Spark Financial • Brava • Dana Bixby Architecture • Granville House LLC Guido’s Fresh Marketplace • Interprint, Inc. • Lee Bank • Martin & Oliveira, LLP Martino Glass Company, Inc. • Dr. Sharon Mozian, MD, PC • One Mercantile Park Square Financial Advisors of Raymond James


Jeannene Booher • Judy & Tim Boomer • Katherine Dean & Frederic Gordon Janet & John Egelhofer • Tom & Anne Flynn • Susan W. Gold • Ann & Peter Herbst Beverly & David Hosokawa • Jo-Ann & Jack Johannemann • Jane & Charlie Johnson Phyllis Pa i Klein • Marisa Labozze a & Martin Wohl • Laurie Gilden Lindner Julie & David McCarthy • Kate & Joel Millonzi • Elaine Radiss & Rich Petrino Carol & Michael Riordan • Linda & Frank Russell • The Schnesel Family Fund Maria Sirois • Suzannah & Pieter Van Schaick • Claudia E. Wells

In-Kind Supporters

Berkshire Mountain Distillers • Berkshire Photo Booth • Domaney’s Liquors & Fine Wines • Kwik Print, Inc. • Mahaiwe Tent Company • Township Four

CATA has a new

Please update


420 Stockbridge Rd, Suite 2

Great Barrington, MA 01230 (413) 528-5485 ·


Heather Wells Heim, President

Sharon Mozian, Vice President

Emily Rechnitz, Vice President

Ira Grossman, Treasurer

David Rice, Secretary

Sandra Baron · Liz Costley

p CATA artists Cathy (Oakdale) and Ma (Interlaken) tap into their talents at CATA. Your support makes our programs possible!


Beverly Hosokawa · Sarah Hunter

Mindi Morin · Rich Petrino

Elaine Radiss · Carol Riordan

Linda Russell · Stephen Shatz

Eva Sheridan · Ben Silberstein

John Whalan

Margaret Keller, Executive Director

Katie Clarke, Administrative Director

David Dashiell, Administrative Associate

Jeff Gagnon, Program Director

Kara Smith, Program Director

Norma Stobbe, Program Associate

Alexandra Heddinger, Development Director

Kate Harding, Development Associate

Chris Watford, Communications Director

Eleanor Stewart, Studio Workshop Assistant

Sandra Newman, Founder

all photos by CATA unless otherwise noted