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Bing Arts Center offering 'First Friday,' film classes and more

Date: 1/13/2010

Jan. 13, 2010.

By Lori Szepelak


SPRINGFIELD -- The Bing Arts Center is slowly coming to life, thanks to the concerted efforts of the "X" Main Street Corporation.

Brian F. Hale, president of the corporation and creative director of the Bing, noted in a recent fund-raising letter that the renovation project has been "very challenging."

"We have undertaken a major renovation project while working to develop the only community arts center in Greater Springfield," Hale said. "The plans are in place, the immediate renovation funding has been secured and our initial educational programming is ready."

The Bing Art Center's programming will consist of exhibitions, events and education for the community with an emphasis on improving arts accessibility for everyone, according to Hale.

"The Bing Arts Center will make a positive impact on thousands of people, especially the many children lacking the opportunity to experience the transformative impact of art on a personal level," he added.

Event programming has commenced with First Fridays, a monthly series featuring live music, spoken word and screenings. Upcoming events include "The Magic of PJ" with Paul Pinsonnault Jr. on Feb. 5; spoken word and gospel by A. J. Baymon with a little help from his family and friends on March 5; a Children's Chorus of Springfield concert on April 2; and Rising Tide performing May 7. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. for all shows, with performances beginning at 8. Refreshments will be available for purchase. A $5 suggested donation will be requested at the door.

Classes for young people will also take center stage later this month, starting with "Exploring Arts in Many Cultures" from Jan. 23 to Feb. 27, and "Motion Picture Production for Kids" from Jan. 27 to March 3. Local filmmaker and screenwriter Marty Langford will teach the six-week motion picture course which is geared for ages eight to 12. Artist Merrilee Aurora Hale will lead the art class for ages eight to 12.

"These will be the first of many art and cultural education offerings at the Bing," Hale said.

Hale credits the Hampden Bank Charitable Foundation and the City of Springfield's Community Development Grant (CDBG) for allowing the Bing project to continue moving forward.

"In spite of the loss of state funding, progress has continued and we recently commenced part-time programming," Hale said. "Thanks to Mayor Domenic Sarno and a CDBG grant, we have secured the funding required to finish the initial phase of our renovations which will allow us to open for full-time public use."

Hale added that he hopes to resume construction this month, with an official opening this spring.

"Our goal is to provide the neighborhood, city and surrounding communities with an alternative venue for visual and performing and educational programming," Hale said. "The Bing will improve the quality of life for residents and visitors, serving as an effective catalyst for cultural and economic development."

For more information on events and programs at the Bing, call 731-9730 or visit