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Keeping the Hive Alive

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Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Reversing previous statements about its intention to step away from the massive effort of organizing Northampton’s annual First Night extravaganza, the Northampton Center for the Arts has just announced that the show will go on on December 31, 2013, and that the Center will once again do the staging.

Mayor David Narkewicz has led leaders in business and the arts in Northampton in talks about how to keep the event going; many promised support, but the conclusion, apparently, was that no one could do it like the Center. As Debra J’Anthony, director of the Academy of Music, put it, “They’re the face of the effort, the ones who know how to get the support to put this on.”

Beginning in June, veteran First Night organizer Penny Burke will at long last have part-time hired help to nail all the event’s moving parts—bands, fireworks and other elements—into place.

As the Advocate wrote in January, “How the city and/or other arts organizations approach the monstrous task of organizing First Night, whether it’s parcelled out or centralized, stands to make or break an important part of the cultural calendar that employs a massive number of musicians and other artists.” It also brings people in from out of town, and anchors Northampton’s reputation as a city that can put on a New Year’s Eve romp that saves revelers a trip to Hartford or Boston.•

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