CATA is a leader organization; its mission is embodied (embedded) in every interaction and activity I've witnessed between participants and their community. Core values of dignity, warmth and respect drive their work and their vision for artistic achievement. They strive to break down stigma and create community in which everyone is welcome; everyone's participation is seen as important and is celebrated. CATA is innovative and invigorating.. whether you're just there to watch, or to join in.
I first learned about CATA when I attended its annual Gala. The Gala has displays of CATA participant visual arts, but it offers as well the performances by many CATA participants in theater, dance, music and other performing arts. It is a spectacularly joyous event. The CATA artists convey clearly their pleasure in their art forms and their ability to share their art with the audience. We were completely emotionally engaged.
Since then we have attended many Galas, and other performance opportunities. I had been privileged to join in a workshop painting clay pots. I may have no artistic ability, but CATA artists in the room surely did. One was kind enough to mentor me in the effort, earning my gratitude and respect which she richly deserved. And we have had the opportunity to meet some of the CATA participants and hear from them what CATA meant to them.
CATA affords an astonishing array of opportunities for adults who may have few or no other options for artistic expression and whose abilities may otherwise be underdeveloped and simply overlooked. It is an organization that clearly enhances, and even changes, lives and makes so clear that ability to create and flourish in the arts exists in all of us.
My sister Cathy Crofut has cerebral palsy and is in a wheelchair. She is a talented visual artist, and has built a small business for herself selling her cards with her paintings on them. CATA has nurtured Cathy on so many levels; by providing her with opportunities to paint and to show her work, by offering her tremendous emotional and professional support as an artist, and by encouraging her to continue to pursue the irreplaceable outlet that is art in her life. Her flair for color is a metaphor for all that CATA has given her, and therefore all of us - her family, her staff and house workers, her friends, and our broader community.
We have been supporters of CATA for about four years. We have been impressed with the way we have been appreciated and welcomed into the CATA community. The staff are the most warm, loving, caring people we have ever met. We are sponsoring some the members of the community and have been invited to watch them in their classes. We have been able to see first hand how our contributions have helped others.
They have the BEST benefit in the Berkshires because it includes so many of the CATA recipients. It really makes you feel there are no limits to what everyone can accomplish if given the opportunity.
I ( Steffie) attended a workshop this summer with volunteers and members of the CATA community. We made a felt mural which will hang in a public location in GT. Barrington. The spirit of the whole team was so high and happy. I was teamed up with a woman named Betsy. It really made me feel so good to be able to work with Betsy and to get to know her and other participants.
We also attended a Jacob's Pillow show and there were many CATA members there. The spirit and inclusion of everyone is contagious. Thank goodness for CATA!!
Stephanie and Bob Gittleman
CATA is a well managed, effective organization dedicated to bringing the world of the arts to mentally challenged members of the Berkshires community. From creative writing and painting to dance and theater (yes, even Shakespeare), CATA is dedicated to participation and inclusion. Their annual showcase, a must-attend event, offers a sample of the unique talents of CATA artists. Awestruck audiences, regularly shed joyful tears after witnessing this special event. I know.
I have been volunteering in the CATA Direct workshops for a few years now, and it is the highlight of my week. There is such a sense of community as people of every ability gather around the workshop tables. Mostly, we have great days where we sing, laugh and tease one another, while creating beautiful crafts and works of art to share with the world. Once in awhile we have moments of tension that need to be worked through, and we do that with grace, compassion and true respect for one another.
CATA levels the playing field for all of us; in workshops, we are all learning new skills which may be easy or difficult for us. I can honestly say that I have learned as much from CATA as I have brought to the table, if not more.
I absolutely love being involved with this organization, and can only sing it's praises!
My experience with CATA is mostly as a volunteer. I had the privilege of working with CATA direct for 1 years. My community members that I brought to Cata were looking forward all week to their workshop, and did and still does consider this the best part of their week.
They learned felting, jewelry making etc.
Most wonderful though were the art classes. Having amazing artists as teachers who were able to discover and magnify their talents.
I love their work, and have quite a collection of their stunning oil paintings.
Grow and prosper CATA.
For almost 8 years I have had the privilege of serving on the Board of Directors for Community Access to the Arts. What I give of myself is so small in comparison to what I have received from this organization. The participants and the joy they bring to others through their art is so very heartwarming and important!!
I was lucky enough to intern at CATA for almost a full school year and witness the immense positive impact CATA programs have on all people involved. It only takes stepping into the office to feel welcomed and included, and to me this was the most special part of being in the CATA family - seeing people of all ability levels learn from each other, nurture each other and be nurtured. CATA builds a community that truly embodies its mission and does not turn its back on anyone. There are amazing workshops, teachers and a spirit that inspires creativity and appreciation for all things that are art. The kind of support found here is unlike that of any other non-profit, because it extends past the hours of CATA programs - the people here really love the work that they do and the people that they work for and with - and it shows. The artists with disabilities are valued members of the CATA team and treated with real respect. For me, it was really the first time I saw people with disabilities being treated as capable adults rather than children. One class I was in, I remember one of the artists saying, "I wish the rest of the world treated me like a person too." Really opened my eyes. What CATA does, at the heart of it, is simple - values individuals who aren't usually taken seriously by the rest of our society. What a beautiful job they do! Incredible environment, stunning art and writing and some of the kindest, most interesting people you'll meet. Everyone involved in this important work grows from the experience.
CATA's workshops at Blue Q continue to be amazing. We employ a staff of fifteen people through Berkshire County ARC, and we've learned through CATA everyone of them's a true artist in some manner. CATA's programming is creative and life changing, with wide-ranging benefits to our community at large.
CATA is also SO capably run, by a lean, resourceful, crazy-talented team that makes every dollar count!!
One of the most important arts orgs on the local map!!!
Community Access to the Arts has, over the years, provided an inspiring and enduring model to everyone who has come in contact with its artists, programs, staff, and volunteers, about what it means to be a caring and loving community. This community is built upon the belief that every person is precious and capable, regardless of circumstance. Imagine what our world would look like if there were a CATA in every community on the planet.