2016 The Bakelite Masterpiece Beneficiaries

WAM Theatre donated $5,500 to the Berkshire Immigrant Center and $3,500 to Suzi Banks Baum – New Illuminations, making a grand total of $9,000 which was from 25% of WAM’s box office proceeds of The Bakelite Masterpiece WAM/BTG co-production

Suzi Banks Baum will use her donation to pay women artists in Armenia a stipend for their work as visual artists. The arts are not an accepted field of work for women in Armenia, where they are culturally limited in how they can support themselves and their families. The Berkshire Immigrant Center will use their funds to help women from abused households navigate a path to citizenship in the United States.

About Berkshire Immigrant Center

The mission of the Berkshire Immigrant Center (BIC) is to welcome new immigrants and refugees and to provide them with the tools and services needed to integrate into the fabric of their new community. BIC serves 800 immigrants and their families each year.

Each year hundreds of thousands of immigrants seek assistance with humanitarian based immigration law. These are mostly women and children and they may be recently arrived or have lived here for a number of all years- what they all have in common is that they are seeking refuge and protection from violence they have experienced abroad or even here in the US at the hands of an abuser. Unfortunately BIC is not funded to assist these clients; they are often among the most vulnerable and regardless of whether an attorney is involved or not- often require the most help and are unable to compensate the Center for our services. The US- and the BIC- has seen a larger number of these heart-breaking cases than ever with the influx of mothers and children fleeing harm and even execution from Central America- the murder capital of the world.

For more information about the Berkshire Immigrant Center, please call (413) 445-4881, email info@berkshireic.com, or visit www.berkshireic.org

“We are excited to be able to keep helping these women and their families navigate a path to permanent residence and safety in the US; services that we will continue to be able to strengthen with the help of this much needed grant from WAM.”

Berkshire Immigrant Center

About Suzi Banks Baum – New Illuminations

Suzi Banks Baum is a writer, artist, actor, teacher, and community organizer. She is editor and publisher of An Anthology of Babes: 36 Women Give Motherhood a Voice. She lives in Great Barrington and produces Out of the Mouths of Babes: An Evening of Mothers Reading to Others for the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers.

In March of 2016, Suzi visited Gyumri, Armenia interviewing women artists through affiliation with National Geographic photographer, John Stanmeyer and 4Plus, an Armenian organization of female documentary photographers.

Suzi learned during her visit that the cultural expectations of women form a restrictive structure out of which they struggle to carve lives that include art making. Giving these women voice, telling their stories and empowering them to begin to tell theirs is essential to raising the value of Armenian women’s lives. Suzi’s project is blossoming into a residency in Gyumri in October 2016 to continue interviewing women, and leading a multi-disciplinary workshop to gather stories and teach the artists the ancient practice of book building.  WAM’s donation helps make this trip and compensation for the female artists possible. http://www.suzibanksbaum.com/

“New Illuminations was hugely boosted by WAM’S donation. As a beneficiary, I was able to pay 15 women artists a stipend to participate in the art and writing workshop for four full days, provide all the art supplies and lunch for each of them. Along with this, I also paid an Armenian woman photographer to document the whole workshop. Following the WAM model of feminine leadership, inclusive, collaborative, and uplifting, New Illuminations continues to touch women’s lives. I am filled with gratitude.”

Suzi Banks Baum